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Putin’s Response to Star Wars 2.0 will Be Different than Gorbachev’s But Just as Destructive of Russia, Portnikov Says

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Paul Goble

Staunton, August 10 – After US President Ronald Reagan announced his strategic defense initiative, commonly referred to as Star Wars, Soviet leaders first sought to counter it, but then Mikhail Gorbachev realized Moscow couldn’t afford to and began the concessions foreign and domestic that led to the end of the Cold War and the end of the USSR.

That is how Vladimir Putin is likely to view the new American initiative to extend its defense perimeter into space and to cause him to behave in exactly the opposite way than did his Soviet predecessor: spending money Russia doesn’t have and threatening its existence in an even more radical way, Ukrainian commentator Vitaly Portnikov says.

In a comment for Espreso TV, he notes that just as was the case with Reagan’s Star Wars program, “some experts will say that for the time being Trump’s plans look like science fiction” but Putin just like Gorbachev will take them seriously even if he responds in an opposite way (

For Putin, even more for Brezhnev, Chernenko and Andropov, a Russian role in space is one of his main obsessions and even justifications for “the existence of a Russian imperial myth in the absence of a Russian empire.”

“Three decades ago, President Ronald Reagan caught the Kremlin gerontocracy with his ‘star wars’ program. The Soviet economy was hardly breathing, but the Kremlin decided to throw all resources to secure military parity with the United States. The results were remarkable: the Soviet Union expired and ceased to threaten the civilized world.”

Today, Portnikov continues, “the Russian Federation doesn’t have even half the possibilities of the USSR. However, there is the opportunity to frighten the civilized world with the help of oil dollars and new technologies. Therefore, the collapse of Putin’s Russia will become a significant event for all orderly people.

“If anyone thinks that the Russian leadership is capable of learning Reagan’s lesson” – as Gorbachev ultimately did – “he is mistaken. For those like Putin, the collapse of the USSR occurred because the Kremlin in Gorbachev’s times did not oppose America in a sufficiently energetic way.”

For Putin and those like him, “General Secretary Andropov and Defense Minister Ustinov died and spies and collaborationists came to power.  So that the only way out is to spend as much money as possible on the army, to create one’s own space forces and to show the Americans that this time Russia will not give in before an enemy.”

In short, “Andropov, Ustinov and Putin – together to the end!”

Ukrainians and others threatened by Russia should wish Putin every success in his policy because its consequences will be the exact opposite of what he wants. Indeed, Portnikov concludes, “we are interested in this even more than is Putin himself.”


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