Make no mistake, Vladimir Putin's blog, published today on The Huffington Post, is a very clear statement of intent from a man who believes that he is president in waiting. It is also one from a man who knows that his first term in office as president is largely remembered as a period when Russian military pride began to be restored after the self immolation of the Soviet Union.
When I was a teenager, the military of the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact allies were stationed roughly as Winston Churchill famously predicted they would be when he talked in 1945 of an "iron curtain falling across Europe"; from "Stettin in the Baltic, to Trieste in the Adriatic".
The Soviet fleet straddled the globe, and Moscow could count on sturdy allies from Angola to Somalia, Cuba to Vietnam, and often with the deep water bases to go with them. Up until 1989, Warsaw Pact forces faced its Nato opponents across a divided Germany, whose borders were those created from the ashes of the Second World War.
When Vladimir Putin promises to build a professional army earmarking 23 trillion Roubles to do so over the next decade, he is at last doing what many in NATO always thought would be the logical step for the Russian military to take.
Clearly the days of the conscript army are drawing to a close, and Putin sees the need for a professional army that is equipped with modern equipment and which is able to move swiftly in a new global disorder which he refers to as "new areas of instability and deliberately managed chaos". Where Western political and military leaders may take fright is when Putin refers to "determined attempts are being made to provoke such conflicts even close to Russia's and its allies borders".
There can be no mistaking the fact that Putin is referring directly to, amongst others, Russia's long time ally, Syria, especially when he goes on to say that "the basic principles of international law are being degraded and eroded especially in terms of international security". There is no question that Russia, along with China, is deeply suspicious of anything that pertains to 'humanitarian interventionism', believing, post Iraq, that this is cover for further US expansionism.
If there is conflict it comes in the juxtaposition of Putin's statement that in a "world of upheaval there is always the temptation to resolve one's problems at another's expense through pressure and force". But then he goes on to make it clear that the country under his leadership would not allow Russia's interests to be threatened, when he says that "It is no surprise that some are calling for resources of global significance to be freed from the exclusive sovereignty of one nations". This says Putin "cannot happen to Russia, not even hypothetically."
Yet Putin speaks a language that few Western politicians would be brave enough to admit to, when he says: "The huge resources invested in modernising our military industrial complex... must serve as fuel to feed the engines of modernisation and growth". If Stalin had his belching steel mills and Stakhavonite workers, the brave Russia of Putin's future will have it's anti-missile factories and aerospace defence industries.
All of this, says Putin has to be done in order to "develop our economy and strengthen our democratic institutions". The trouble is that Putin's attachment to democracy is largely based on him winning elections, never losing them. Of all the arguments that Russia's President uses to justify his next great leap forward, this seems to be the least believable.
Mark Seddon is the former UN Correspondent for Al Jazeera English TV
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