From a Russian language website elsewhere on the web, I found an analysis from an anonymous Polish diplomat who attempts to explain why Moscow toys with and often beats the European Union, and by extension, the West.
The following text is not about the Crimean crisis in Ukraine in particular, and not even about policy in general, but about the psychology of policy. I have attempted to translate from the Russian as best I can, so please read on. Now his analysis:
First I’ll create gossip and explain the logic behind it ( 1), and then tell you why I do not want to believe this rumor (2). Then I will explain the origin of the gossip (3), Then the basis of Vladimir Putin’s power ( 4), Where his power come from (5). how to deprive Putin of his power (6). And finally, why it will not succeed.
1. The Gossip. Information exists that Moscow developed a plan to send troops to Ukraine not to occupy Crimea and Donetsk or even Kharkiv and Kiev, but rather to occupy the presidential administration building, several key ministries, state television and the airport with the objective of returning Viktor Yanukovych to power. This scenario involves the use of forces already in Kiev, those loyal to the ousted president, as well as the Ukrainian “Berkut” and Russian special forces. Yanukovich will keep the agreement on early presidential elections and even to resign. Thus, a democratically elected president would be returned to lawful power. This scenario would be advantageous for the Kremlin over all others meaning that Moscow is betting on beating Ukraine through a return to the old status quo.
2 . I [ed. the diplomat] do not believe the gossip. It seems to me that this scenario has one fundamental flaw that makes it, in my opinion, unrealistic. I can imagine its implementation, but have no idea how to manage to subdue a Russian crowd of several hundred thousand, and perhaps a million people, that the next day would rush to the Maidan. I do not think that the Russians would want a massacre of their own people in the city center .
3 . Where do these rumors originate? The answer is simple, really. Year after year, Russia becomes more convinced of the general weakness, corruption and stupidity of the West. It is equally convinced that it will be Moscow and not the West that will endure. It is possible to give examples, but there are so many of them that it is not worth the effort.
4 . What is the basis, in my view [ed. the diplomat], of Vladimir Putin’s power? It’s this simple: if the West has ten scenarios, but the implementation of five of them requires courage, then Putin knows that the West has only 5 scenarios. If Putin, in turn, has ten scenarios, and the implementation of five of them requires courage, we know that Vladimir Putin has 10 scenarios. This means that the West has five scenarios to fear.
5 . So what is the source of Vladimir Putin’s power? I apologize for the wording, but politically correct language has no words that can adequately convey what I mean. So, Vladimir Putin has ( to the EU’s regret ) eggs. [ed. “eggs” is a Russian euphemism for what we call “balls”]
6. So how might we neutralize Vladimir Putin’s power? Teach him to bow to political correctness? Maybe force him to attend “gender studies courses” which would make him more aware of his feminine side and the gentle side of human nature? Perhaps coax him to switch to a vegetarian diet?
7. Why will this effort to neutralize him fail? For the most banal reasons. I have the impression that the entire Russian political elite, including Putin himself, runs on adrenaline and on testosterone too. People who visit the East quickly come to know and understand this. It is because living there and working for Poland (i.e. playing a rival team ), you feel their power. Returning to Poland or elsewhere in the West, you don’t feel anything like that power at home. This feeling tormented me when I returned from Russia , and later from Belarus on our holiday. Similar, if not identical feelings, are felt by colleagues who were ambassadors of other EU states. This feeling does not come from observation of high politics, it is simply a reflection of something deeper. Something that I will try, perhaps inadequately, to express.
In Moscow, they ride along Kutuzov Avenue, in the heart of the city, at 150 kilometers per hour. In the EU we find it frightening to exceed 50. In Moscow, they smoke cigarettes when and where they want to. In the EU we have to hide. In Moscow, they drink the very best alcoholic beverages. In the EU we drink (even those who can afford better ) average drinks.
In Moscow, you can be an intellectual and at the same time be a tough guy. With us, you’re either an intellectual, or a tough guy. In the East, there is simply no concept of an indecent joke. In the West, we better be careful. In Moscow, PR is a secondary matter, but in the West it is paramount . In Moscow, women walk in high heels and short skirts, and men openly and without embarrassment behind them signal their appreciation. In the West, somehow this is not accepted.
I do not know if I manage to ” call a spade a spade,” but I have the impression that the problem is in the West’s relations with Russia – not in Moscow, not the intelligence agencies, and last but not, Putin with his aforementioned “cojones”. The problem we have in the West is that we have no eggs.
P. S. To be absolutely clear, I believe that Russia is a colossus with feet of clay, but I would like to avoid the perennial debate about the weakness of Russia. Russia was weak for 300 years, and it is still there. I simply reflect on things the way they are. Despite Russia being an economic shadow of the European Union, Moscow knows how to leverage its strengths to successfully compete with it and often beat its larger rival.
This article was edited for clarity. My apologies for any translation errors.
The original was published in Russian at this link: http://www.km.ru/world/2014/03/05/protivostoyanie-na-ukraine-2013-14/733968-russkaya-elita-edet-na-adrenaline