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Putin, the wolf in wolf's clothing


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The Conversation

Luis Ángel Díaz

Professor at the School of Education and Psychology at the University of Navarra.

Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin may be many things, but in no case does he behave in an erratic or disturbed manner. On the contrary, those of us who deal with psychological pathologies can see that the Russian leader's behavior is linear and coherent (at least consistent with his understanding of the role that Russia should play on the international scene), largely premeditated and tested, comprehensive (since it encompasses various strategies and areas that are difficult for a confused mind to grasp) and accompanied by a group leadership that has so far won not a few supporters both within the country and beyond its borders.

A brief review of his biography shows us a person determined towards his personal goals, emotionally stable (at least that is what is clear from his life trajectory staff and professional) and predictable, common traits in mentally healthy people.

graduate with honors at the School law school, his whole life has been related to public service, either in the intelligence services (KGB), or in the service of the Leningrad mayor's office or later of the Russian president at the time, Boris Yeltsin. His mandate as President of the Government is the longest in the country, an aspect that also denotes perseverance and undoubtedly a know-how in national politics.

Putin has always expressed his intention to lead the country in his own way. The cases in which his vision of the state has led him to take unilateral and drastic decisions are well known and controversial: for example, his reorganization of the Russian legal system caused the imprisonment of businessmen (remember the president of the oil company Yukos, Mikhail Khodorkovsky) or the control of Russian television stations. He is, from the Western perspective, what we usually call an authoritarian leader.

The hostage-taking in Moscow's Dubrovka theater or the Beslan crisis tell us of a task-oriented leader (the country's security and defense, internal unity and cohesion) above all else.

Not to mention some unsolved deaths of dissident journalists or imprisonment of politicians from the civil service examination. Putin has always been like this and has never pretended to deceive about the image he wanted to convey.

Throughout his years in office he has cultivated a prototypical image of a Russian man with his sporting hobbies, his taste for hunting and wildlife and his appreciation for the moral values of the Russian nation. And that leadership has earned him the credit of Russian voters and oligarchs on repeated occasions, or at least that is what the official polls of the different elections show.

Putin's pretension to regain an important weight in the international space for his country is not new either. Not only did he maintain his influence over the extinct countries of the former USSR but, beyond that, he tried to make new approaches to Latin America (Venezuela or Brazil) and more recently even to his former enemy, China.

Putin is not fighting an ideological battle

With the West there was also a time of flourishing relations, especially after the 9/11 attacks in New York until relatively recently. The apparent change we observe in Putin today is pure pragmatism, where the cause (again the role of Russia, its security and defense) justifies the means. Gone are the old ideological battles. Putin is fighting for the primacy of his country.

On the other hand, we have been able to observe some recent innovations in the dignitary's manner that could be mistaken for weakness or feelings of social empathy towards the West. The large increase of expense in the media, mainly through the public channel RT, indicates a growing concern to convey the Kremlin's view of the world to international opinion.

Moreover, one of Putin's most recent speeches, the speech at the end of the year 2021 before the Western media, before agencies such as "Sky News" (British), showed a victimizing speech , which sought the empathy of the Western citizen in the face of the great threat that in his opinion was looming before Russia due to NATO. At that time, two months ago, some of us pointed out that these attitudes, far from the aggressive and militaristic speech , were surprising and showed a certain emotional manipulation of Western public opinion.

Today, sadly, these assumptions have proved to be true. The Russian army is advancing slowly but surely towards Kiev with an impressive machine of destruction. Putin's efforts to influence international opinion have fortunately had no effect except on clearly anti-NATO minorities.

And in view of the ineffectiveness of the surgical and rapid attacks of the Russian armed forces in the first days of the invasion, Putin is likely to return to his usual strategy: clear and concrete objectives, use of all necessary force and determination until the Russian homeland achieves its goals. At last, the wolf sample his wolf skin.