What business and government leaders need to know about Putin’s declared intent
Putin’s annexation speech of 30 September 2022 (see Kremlin website) included declarations of his view of the world that make it clearer than ever that he wants all of Russia to believe the West is at war with them. He also made his best case for other nations globally that Russia is on their side in opposition to an evil alliance of Western powers led by the US.
It is propaganda, but insightful for business and government leaders seeking to understand global geopolitical risks. Here are key points:
He used the speech to spell out his views that the West is the cause of all the world’s problems. But Russia, he declares, is different. It is a great nation with a rich history who will defend the world against the colonial powers.
The collapse of the Soviet Union is considered a tragedy. Putin has been consistent on this point for the last 15 years. In this speech he paints the collapse of the Soviet Union as an attack against the people, including all the people of the former Soviet republics who found themselves cut off from their homeland.
“When the Soviet Union collapsed, the West decided that the world and all of us would permanently accede to its dictates. In 1991, the West thought that Russia would never rise after such shocks and would fall to pieces on its own. This almost happened. We remember the horrible 1990s, hungry, cold and hopeless. But Russia remained standing, came alive, grew stronger and occupied its rightful place in the world.”
He sees the current leaders in Kyiv as being puppets of the West and declares he wants all to know that the people of Donbass, Zaporozhye, Kherson and Lugansk have forever become Russian citizens. As for the true, most evil nation, he comes right out and pins that on the United States.
“The West is ready to cross every line to preserve the neo-colonial system which allows it to live off the world, to plunder it thanks to the domination of the dollar and technology, to collect an actual tribute from humanity, to extract its primary source of unearned prosperity, the rent paid to the hegemon. The preservation of this annuity is their main, real and absolutely self-serving motivation. This is why total de-sovereignisation is in their interest. This explains their aggression towards independent states, traditional values and authentic cultures, their attempts to undermine international and integration processes, new global currencies and technological development centres they cannot control. It is critically important for them to force all countries to surrender their sovereignty to the United States. “
He tells his people and all who will listen that the US wants to destroy Russia, saying:
“Meanwhile, the West continued and continues looking for another chance to strike a blow at us, to weaken and break up Russia, which they have always dreamed about, to divide our state and set our peoples against each other, and to condemn them to poverty and extinction. They cannot rest easy knowing that there is such a great country with this huge territory in the world, with its natural wealth, resources and people who cannot and will not do someone else’s bidding.”
He trashes the concept of Western rules and a rule-based order.
“Where did that come from anyway? Who has ever seen these rules? Who agreed or approved them? Listen, this is just a lot of nonsense, utter deceit, double standards, or even triple standards! They must think we’re stupid.”
The speech goes on and on, picking out some horrid truths from humanity’s darkest days and blaming them all on today’s Western institutions. He paints himself as the great leader who prevented Russia from being a colony of the West after the breakup of the Soviet Union and holds himself up as the leader who can keep the West from dominating all the rest of the world.
He underscores that the US is the only nation to have ever used nuclear weapons, creating a precedent, he says. He blames the us for the destruction of major German cities during world war II, saying it was done without necessity with the goal of intimidating Russia. He calls Japan and South Korea and Germany occupied nations.
He calls all western leaders “totalitarian, despotic and apartheidistic” and calls all who oppose Russia racist.
He lies about Western objectives in World War II, lies about Western intentions regarding biologicla weapons and lies about US actions regarding Ukrainian grain.
He wants to close a deal with any who will listen, including any like-minded friends in Western countries and any anti-colonial movements anywhere in the world. He calls the fight one for a fair world.
“Today, we are fighting for a just and free path, first of all for ourselves, for Russia, in order to leave dictate and despotism in the past. I am convinced that countries and peoples understand that a policy based on the exceptionalism of whoever it may be and the suppression of other cultures and peoples is inherently criminal, and that we must close this shameful chapter. The ongoing collapse of Western hegemony is irreversible.”
As he sometimes does he calls out to lead those that think like him in the West:
“As I have already said, we have many like-minded people in Europe and the United States, and we feel and see their support.”
What Does This Mean?
Although the big themes of the West being wrong about everything and the Soviet Union collapse have been part of Putin’s speeches for decades, this articulation of the threat and importance of the entire world standing up to the US and the West is different. It reads much more like a declaration of war, not just the hot war in Ukraine, but a new Cold War that will create a new bi-polar world where nations align with the West or with Russia.
Considerations For Your Business Strategy
Geopolitical tensions have long been under pressure due to Covid and economic crisis, and for 6 months the unprovoked war of Russia against Ukraine has been increasing tensions. Now Putin has doubled down and is clearly making a play not just for the hearts of Russians but for any globally who will oppose the west. Global businesses should factor this into assessments. Here are other considerations for strategic planners:
- Since we are in a period of fast action and dynamically shifting situations, look at ways to optimize your own decision-making, with an eye towards speeding up your processes (think of your own OODA Loop). Accelerate your review of internal corporate decision-making by reviewing our special series on the Intelligent Enterprise, which provides advice and recommendations relevant to businesses of all sizes on topics like intelligence support to operational decision-making. This is also a good time to review corporate approaches to training staff and executives on critical thinking, training on how to counter misinformation and disinformation.
- Larger companies should hire or appoint a senior liaison for working with the US Department of State, Department of Commerce and Department of Homeland Security to ensure your company is as informed as possible on government actions and intentions in regards to the threat, and to ensure your corporate interests are known by government.
- Besides this appointing of a senior liaison, firms of all sizes should ensure they are connected to the right entities for sharing information on cyber conflict. For most this means joining an appropriate information sharing and analysis center or organization (ISAC or ISAO). C-Suite leaders should track this closely and put themselves in a position to ensure information received from these sharing organizations is as actionable as possible. And remember, sharing is a two-way street. Sharing back information to these organizations can help in trust building and improve collective defense.
- Strategically assess your entire supply chain. In today’s interconnected world this can be easier said than done, but it is important to know not only where your facilities are, but, depending on your industry, where your supplier facilities are, where manufacturing is done, and where raw materials are sourced from. After an initial mapping of your supply chain assess critical paths and critical components, and use scenario based planning to and determine if alternate supply sources need to be established.
- Re-assess your markets to know which markets can be influenced by China or Russia and determine how important these markets are to your organization.
- Understand that no IT system can be totally secured, but all IT can be hardened. Take steps to move your organization to a more resilient architecture that can make it harder on nation states to gain unauthorized access to your systems and detect them if they do (our favored approach, a Zero-Trust Architecture).
- Know your communications dependencies, including long haul communications and also space based communications. Understand your backup plans should the need arise.
- Also on the subject of communications, ensure your entire C-Suite has an out of band, secure way to coordinate together (we use Wickr and it has our strongest recommendation for this purpose).
- C-Suite leaders should work to improve their ability to deal with further disintegration in internal discord in the US and other open societies and how that can impact business models and also Human Resources strategies. Firms should consider ways to mitigate the threat of internal extremists and even workplace violence.
- Ensure your entire leadership team is staying aware of global threats. One way to do that is to subscribe to our OODA Daily Pulse. This foundational level of intelligence can help keep the entire team aware of key events and threats. Others on your team may be in need of more focused cyber threat intelligence or human intelligence or other dedicated sources. Contact us if you need insights into the best way to do this.
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- Global Risk and Geopolitical Sensemaking page: Focused reporting on geopolitical topics including what the C-Suite needs to know about Russia, China, Iran, DPRK.
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- America’s Most Critical Infrastructure is also Our Most Neglected Infrastructure: Our thesis is that America’s most critical infrastructure is our cognitive infrastructure. This is also the most attacked and least defended. In short, our most important infrastructure is also our most neglected infrastructure.
- Mitigating Risks To America’s Cognitive Infrastructure:This is the second of a series on our nation’s most neglected critical infrastructure, our cognitive infrastructure. The first post dove into the nature of the challenge and why it is so important for our future that the threats to our cognitive infrastructure are understood and addressed. This post flows from that one and suggests ways the nation can mitigate many of these risks.
- A Practitioner’s View of Corporate Intelligence: Organizations in competitive environments should continually look for ways to gain advantage over their competitors. The ability of a business to learn and translate that learning into action, at speeds faster than others, is one of the most important competitive advantages you can have. This fact of business life is why the model of success in Air to Air combat articulated by former Air Force fighter pilot John Boyd, the Observe – Orient – Decide – Act (OODA) decision loop, is so relevant in business decision-making today.
- Useful Standards For Corporate Intelligence: Discusses standards in intelligence, a topic that can improve the quality of all corporate intelligence efforts and do so while reducing ambiguity in the information used to drive decisions and enhancing the ability of corporations to defend their most critical information.
- Optimizing Corporate Intelligence: Actionable recommendation on ways to optimize a corporate intelligence effort. It is based on a career serving large scale analytical efforts in the US Intelligence Community and in applying principles of intelligence in corporate America.
- An Executive’s Guide To Cognitive Bias in Decision Making: Cognitive Bias and the errors in judgement they produce are seen in every aspect of human decision-making, including in the business world. Companies that have a better understanding of these cognitive biases can optimize decision making at all levels of the organization, leading to better performance in the market. Companies that ignore the impact these biases have on corporate decision-making put themselves at unnecessary risk.
- Operational Intelligence for Strategic Decision-making: In this OODAcast, OODA Network Expert Jen Hoar interviews noted cybersecurity and intelligence professional Bob Gourley, CTO of OODA LLC, diving deep into what makes him tick. Jen asks Bob about his career, including the constants and dynamics in his professional life, starting with a deep background in operational intelligence as a naval intelligence officer. She explores his strengths and weaknesses and how he makes decisions in domains of overwhelming information. Jen asks Bob for advice for others on ways to keep learning.
- Potential Future Opportunities, Risks and Mitigation Strategies in the Age of Continuous Crisis: Now more than ever, organizations need to apply rigorous thought to business risks and opportunities. In doing so it is useful to understand the concepts embodied in the terms Black Swan and Gray Rhino
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