A former speechwriter for Vladimir Putin says a declining Russia combined with Putin’s own past as a KGB agent led to the invasion of Ukraine.
Abbas Gallyamov, who served for three years as Putin’s speechwriter since he was first elected in 2001, told Radio National Australia that the Putin he knew two decades ago is antithetical to who he has become.
“He is not a politician; mentally he is still a KGB agent and these guys, they’re not setting the goals…When the threat appears, he starts fighting this threat,” Gallyamov said. “That’s why he’s always reacting to external threats which are appearing and solving those problems, and when there are no problems he’s just drifting along, just allowing the river to take him away. He’s not a strategist at all, that’s why he’s trapped now.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu (L) attend a wreath-laying ceremony at the Eternal Flame and the Unknown Soldier’s Grave in Alexander Garden during an event marking Defender of the Fatherland Day in Moscow, Russia on February 23, 2023. A former Putin speechwriter of three years said that Putin has escalated aggression in Ukraine to avoid dealing with domestic problems and a loss of political influence.
PAVEL BEDNYAKOV/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images
Friday will be one year since Putin ordered his military to invade Ukraine, causing a prolonged conflict that has heavily involved not just Eastern European nations but essentially all of NATO and the West.
Putin doubled down on the aggression during a two-hour national address on Tuesday, in which he blamed Ukraine for becoming a “hostage of the Kyiv regime and its Western masters.”
His verbal jabs at the West were abundant, also blaming “elites” for allegedly perpetrated lies that fueled and escalated the ongoing war.
He also said Western citizens were responsible for the destruction of families, of cultural and national identities, and perversion resulting from child abuse and pedophilia.
Gallyamov called Putin a “chameleon” who upon first gaining national power was more self-confident and didn’t require aggressive tactics to extol political authority—differentiating him from former Soviet leaders like Joseph Stalin, who “enjoyed torturing people.”
That mindset and ideology began to shift around 2016, Gallyamov said, due to Russians focusing more on domestic issues rather than foreign policy involving the U.S., Ukraine or NATO.
They included concerns about a decline in quality of life, a poor economy, degrading social systems like healthcare, and corruption.
“He was really losing legitimacy and he needed to change the context of perception of Russian politics,” Gallyamov said. “He needed to get people to start thinking about foreign policy and foreign enemies.
“That is why he needed escalation. I’m absolutely sure if there had been no Ukraine and no NATO, he would have found some other enemy he needed to consolidate [his] nation around him.”
Putin has gone from running an authoritarian regime to a totalitarian state, he added, calling the ex-KGB agent “a brilliant tactician but poor strategist” similar to Adolf Hitler.
On Wednesday, Gallyamov told German media outlet Deutsche Welle (DW) that Putin “doesn’t have a plan B” even as “100 percent of Russian elites and half of the Russian general population…understand in general that the situation is going in the wrong direction.”
“The Russian military, who theoretically can arrange this through the Russian special services, they are ruined, literally—their identity is ruined, their self-esteem is ruined by the Ukrainians, by the Ukrainian army,” he said.
Putin continues to escalate nuclear tensions by promising missile launches this year, at the same time he has temporarily discontinued his country’s participation in the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START).
Analysts have estimated that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has already cost more than 9 trillion rubles, with another potential year of war resulting in larger expenditures of Russia’s entire budget. » …