All the Kremlin’s Men | Михаил Зыгарь

Summary of: All the Kremlin’s Men: Inside the Court of Vladimir Putin
By: Михаил Зыгарь

Introduction

Prepare to delve into the enigmatic world shaped by Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin’s men in the book summary of ‘All the Kremlin’s Men: Inside the Court of Vladimir Putin’. Unravel the intricate network of Putin’s inner circle and understand how Russia’s actions on the international stage are dictated by a collective, tactical mindset rather than a single strategic vision. Discover how Putin’s relationships with Western leaders evolved over time, his ever-changing domestic policies, and what motivated his unwavering support for Bashar al-Assad. This engaging summary will keep you informed about the complexities of Putin’s Russia, and what lies beneath the facade of a country controlled solely by one man.

Putin’s Shadowy Brain Trust

Vladimir Putin’s rule over Russia is not a one-man show, as his shadowy brain trust continuously works to determine how he can maintain his popularity and keep his grasp on power. Despite their self-delusion of logical and strategic decision-making, Putin and his advisors’ moves are strictly tactical, short-term responses to outside stimuli. They believe that Putin’s widespread popularity could vanish at any time, resulting in them never fully trusting polling data and approval ratings. From this perspective, Putin’s actions are a necessary and inevitable response to the threats posed by ruthless foes in Washington and NATO’s encroaching power.

Putin’s Complicated Relationship with the West

When Vladimir Putin became president of Russia in 2000, he immediately began courting Western leaders. However, his alliances with Tony Blair, George W. Bush, and other Western leaders quickly fell by the wayside as he became increasingly disenchanted with American interference in world affairs, NATO’s expansion, and Western treachery. Putin’s early reforms were widely accepted by Russians, but his mishandling of a crisis involving a sunken nuclear submarine and his hostile views on independent media ultimately led to his long war against the press. Despite being beloved by some leaders, such as Silvio Berlusconi, Putin’s relationships with Western leaders have always been complicated.

Putin’s Rise to Power

Putin’s reign in Russia was characterized by consumerism and financial competition among the oligarchs. However, as time progressed, Putin and his team became more interested in their own wealth accumulation. Despite the potential for democracy in 2012, Putin’s opposition revealed their dissatisfaction with his rule in large rallies. In response, Putin held his own gatherings of government employees to display loyalty. The promotion of a worker to presidential envoy in the Urals Federal District showed Putin’s keen eye for loyalty. Putin realized that the middle classes and the intelligentsia were unappreciative of the prosperity he had provided them and considered the groups untrustworthy. During the 2012 campaign, Putin won 64% of the votes, and his foes were easily defeated. Putin’s opponents were arrested and prosecuted regularly by the end of 2012. Putin’s reign was kick-started by the Kursk tragedy, which began his rivalry with the manipulators of public opinions, i.e., the non-state-controlled media.

Putin’s De-Medvedization

After appointing Dmitry Medvedev as prime minister, Putin began a campaign to humiliate him. The Duma reversed Medvedev’s liberal policies, and Moscow’s propaganda machine turned against him. Putin purged the regime of Medvedev’s loyalists and enacted laws counter to his public stances on issues such as gay rights. Medvedev’s missteps in Georgia were detailed in a documentary titled The Lost Day, which attributed the death of a thousand people to his cowardice. Putin’s move was seen as an assertion of power and a warning to those who cross him.

Putin’s Absence and the Power of Loyalty

Putin’s rule is based on the principle of his word being law, which poses a problem when he becomes unavailable. Such an instance happened in 2012 when Putin was secretly recovering from an injury and his advisers were faced with a dilemma. They eventually made a move to bar Americans from adopting Russian children, which Putin later signed off on. This decision was a warning to officials not to influence Putin’s decisions. Loyalty also played a key role in Putin’s relationship with Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, who pleased Putin with his abject loyalty, leading to more funds for Chechnya. Putin aided Kadyrov in eliminating political rivals and critics. The 2014 assembling of Chechen forces as “Putin’s foot soldiers” drew attention, but Kadyrov’s implication in the murder of an opposition leader led to a breakdown in Putin’s relationship with him.

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