Missing in Action: “Chess Player” Putin

Imagine this:

A deadlier than average flu comes around so the leader of country X follows everyone else into hounding his people into their apartments and taking off points from the national GDP. This in a country that is already under a financial siege by powerful enemies that makes growth and recovery difficult. The forced mass home arrest doesn’t even work to cut elderly flu deaths, but arbitrary and unnecessary denials of non-flu care do contribute to the country recording some of the highest excess mortality rates in the world.

Soon after this leader escalates a war but ‘forgets’ (!) to pull his country’s reserves out of the banks of its enemies ahead of time. So the reserves that the country has spent years (!) living frugally to build up are confiscated by its enemies.

Now, trying to describe this leader, what words would come to your mind, and would “amazing chess player” be one of them?

I don’t know about you, but the words that would come to my mind would more likely be along the lines of “fool”, “bumbler”, and “OMFG I don’t even”.

Whether you believe that Putin was an “amazing chess player” up until early 2020 or not, I’d think you’d have to agree that evidence of any amazing moves since then has been sorely missing. On the contrary, we have seen at least two incredibly airheaded moves.

All that would have taken not to go down the lockdown path would have been to follow Lukashenko’s example. And all that would have taken to not get half of Russia’s FX reserves stolen would have been to phone Nabiullina ahead of the war and pick her brain for three minutes. She could have had those euros out of foreign banks if only she had been told to sanction-proof them.

These are just the two most egregious blunders, but the scary part is if he committed these two boneheaded errors what else may he have gotten wrong lately? (But perhaps in a less immediately obvious way).



PS.: Personally I always thought that presenting Putin as this uniquely brilliant godsend to Russia post-Yeltsin was bordering on the patronizing and selling Russia short. Yeltsin had brought the country to its knees. There was no way left but up. Anyone who followed who wasn’t drinking himself to death, and who had Yeltsin as an example of what not to do would have ended up presiding over a recovery of some kind. I never saw evidence that Putin did any better than could a number of patriots such as Primakov and Lebed. Are Russians really such dumdums that a run-of-the-mill pragmatic statist like Putin is one in 150 million?

In the international arena, Putin’s Russia has often pursued a course that has at once been more coherent and more nimble than that of western powers, but then decision-making is more centralized in Russia whereas in the US and the west too many cooks spoil the soup.

  1. Swede55 says

    Yes, overall Putin has been great, but not withdrawing the foreign exchange from western banks before invading Ukraine was idiotic. Also, going along with the Covid narrative was very stupid, but he is a lawyer not a physician.

    1. Drapetomaniac says

      Focussing on the action is always important but the reaction is more important.

      I would hope Putin would point out that the West has seriously violated the concept of international property rights as to money and since they don’t matter, expand it to include the property rights of patents, copyrights, trademarks, etc.

      The third world would really really benefit from that, heck, most of the world would.

      1. Kev says

        So you advocate more talking by Putin? The guy never stops and TBH the West really doesn’t give two damns about what he says.

  2. Ultrafart the Brave says

    Hey, even Iron Man gets it wrong sometimes – and he has a movie script to work from.

    The Russian government’s not just one man – in Putin’s own words, it’s the court that makes the king.

    Granted, it’s hard to overlook the folly of Russia playing along with the Corona Chan “pandemic”, with all the attendant economic and social damage.

    But on the latest sanctions and international piracy, FWIW, I read somewhere that the debts owed by Russian interests to foreign nations on Russia’s just-minted naughty list amount to some $450 billion – and those debts aren’t likely to be paid back any time soon now that they’ve done the dirty on Russia.

    So perhaps there’s more to this than meets the eye… the calculus might be more convoluted than we think.

    1. SteveK9 says

      There are also a large amount of assets in Russia held by Westerners that can and some will, be confiscated. If you think Putin did not think ahead, it is NOTHING compared to the lack of thought by the West.

      Suppose Putin (Russia) decided to turn off energy exports to Europe … 100% … tomorrow.

      1. Helga Weber says

        I hope he has all the gold reserves in his homeland and not in an english bank

    2. Drapetomaniac says

      True, but can’t the FED replace the $450 billion with a few keystrokes?

      1. Cooky says

        All those zeros of money added eventually makes the fiat worthless.

      2. Ultrafart the Brave says

        True, but can’t the FED replace the $450 billion with a few keystrokes?

        I don’t profess to have any real clue about the subject, except to observe that Russia’s foreign debt obligations are allegedly spread around quite a few foreign currencies – all of which can now be legally repaid by Russia in Rubles (there’s that “keystroke” concept again) instead of the originally denominated currency, and further, held in Russian accounts pending the Russian government’s approval of transfer of payment of those Rubles to the creditors.

        It sort of sounds like whoever decided to steal a shitload of Russia’s money forgot that Russia can do the same thing right back – only worse.

        If the privately owned banking entity known as the FED decides to print their way out of it (figuratively speaking) then that’s only going to spread that loss across all users of the American currency – one more (substantial) nail in its coffin.

        But (it seems to me) nothing the FED does is going to spread the pain for all those other currency holders waiting for their payments from Russia (in Rubles, assuming they even get that).

  3. Hostage (Raptar) Driver says

    This was all part of the calculation, the Russians know what they’re doing.
    On the surface it seems like a mistake but it is not.

  4. SteveK9 says

    Those are mistakes, but I do think Putin is a remarkably intelligent person (all those long speeches and press conferences were not read off a teleprompter) with a good character, and those leaders are not common at all.

  5. Cooky says

    Never blame the thief – blame the one who didn’t secure his assets. Putin probably thought that the west was not what the west is. Thieves and liars. Now like the citizens of the west he can look at the elites not as a peer but as a citizen. Where are all our taxes going? It is never enough.

    1. Helga Weber says

      That is a good question, where are all the taxes going, now we know, in all these wars and a lot into Ukraine. Not into education or healthcare for sure.

  6. Mr Reynard says

    If you look, those sitting on the left play Poker ??
    They hold only a pair of Deuces in their hands & try to bluff, that they hold a Royal Flush ??

  7. ken says

    Following the covaids script was really stupid and he lost much credibility.

    He shutdown the embassy on Feb 22. The military option started on Feb 24. Not sure how long it would take to withdraw those billions but one day probably would not have been enough. I’m kind of thinking he just made a snap decision….. pure speculation on my part.

    Trying to limit loss of life, which is commendable, he has slowed down plans to a crawl. Only history will determine the right or wrong of his strategy.

    IMO he was correct to start the operation just on the basis of the thousands killed in the donbass over the last 7-8 years. The West has zero concern for life,,, just look at the US invasions. Add that the US/West funded Bio-labs and the US likely was assisting Ukraine’s nuclear ambitions Ukraine announced just before Russia’s incursion.

    The West is in panic mode as it’s likely Russia may find evidence of Ukraine and US collusion on biologic and nuclear WMD.

    1. iconoclast says

      perhaps putin knew all along about the zio-ukes secretly “manufacturing” a russian-specific strain of a covid-like illness in zio-uke bio labs?

  8. Ilya G Poimandres says

    Yes, us Slavs don’t like a soft touch.

    Putin is soft, he is compromising, he offers over and over a way out for “partners”.. maybe a few hundred years ago this would have been seen as Christian, I don’t know.

    But as much as I wish to be more aggressive than him, were I in the seat, I respect and prefer his path.

    As for the $300bn – two can play that game, the economies of Russia and the sanctioned nations are intertwined, let’s see what the counter sanctions bring..

    In the end, the West wants to destroy Russia, no less than Hitler wanted to, so if you’re pissy about a bit of money when your life is at stake, sorry, your priorities are wrong.

    1. Helga Weber says

      Not only Hitler, twice Germany with England pulling the strings and Napoleon too

  9. Victor says

    Even Grand Masters make stupid moves occasionally. Putin made a couple of stupid moves, but he is well ahead of the West and has brought Russia back from hell to a position of power and pride. As for where things could have gone for Russia after Yeltsin, well, I can only say this – Russia could still be in the grip of the Jewish oligarchs, living in extreme jobless poverty – so to answer the author’s question “Where else was there to go but up?” – that’s my answer, for what it is worth. 

  10. Peter says

    If they will nationalize and cancel int, prop. patents… they were brilliant. And cleaning up the press is finally done. He should get the Nobel prize.

  11. anon says

    Putin obviously needs to get control of the WEF sberbank and the mendicants running it, no doubt these are the fifth column behind both the virus nonsense and of course the siezure of Russian assets… of course jewish atlanticists and mobsters work with them as they constitute the neo-liberal blob… all this could point to more grand theatre than a grand game of chess…

    presuming that things are as they are presented, there are means of clawing back the cash.. siezure of foreign assets, more profitable commodity prices… more substantial markets eastwards etc etc..

    and of course good old threats… turn of the spigot..

    The Anglo Zionists are keen for war, but not really with Putin they want to destroy their own nations, this being their primary objective for the jewish financiers that own them (and the old money they work for)….

    in preparation for their corporate feudalist ‘reset’..

    1. Swede55 says

      OK, I will admit that there are means of clawback which appear to be promising.

      Checkout this article at The Saker on Russian strategy.
      The opinion of a professional about the special operation in Ukraine (MUST READ!) | The Vineyard of the Saker

  12. XSFRGR says

    If Putin had withdrawn all assets from foreign banks it would have confirmed that a Russia invasion of Ukraine was imminent. By leaving the money in the banks he kept that West guessing. Also I think that the majority of the money remains in the banks of nations that will return Russia’s money after they determine that the wind is blowing from the East.

  13. Noah says

    Have you heard of Hegel’s dialectics? Everything is going after the script, nothing is by chance… Life is not a Hollywood movie with good character and bad character! That’s not about Putin and the west, but about us. This is the planned stage of the “grand reset” with energy crisis, cyber attacks, food shortages, “you name it” shortages. Stay tuned, next on “grand reset”!!!

  14. Cap960 says

    This writer is about Russia wrong, Putin wrong. West good.
    This is not journalism it’s BS. Good site. Wrong writer.

  15. Arthur says

    Putin’s reputation as a geopolitical master rests mainly on the utter incompetence of his western counterparts.

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