If Vladimir Putin — the Russian strongman who currently enjoys a whopping 80 percent approval rating in his own country even as the west worries that Putin plans to unleash World War 3, ever loses his grip on power — the cause probably won’t be a military misadventure, or a strategic move by the American president.
The cause of Putin’s fall, if indeed he does ever does fall, will likely come, analysts believe, from an internal threat, and not a very sexy one at that. The continuing collapse of Russia’s currency, the ruble, appears to be the only true threat to the Vladimr Putin regime.
Ruble Hits All-Time Low On Vladimir Putin’s Watch
In international currency trading last week, the ruble — which as been plummeting for most of 2014 — took its worst beating yet, dropping below a rate of 45 rubles to the dollar, the ruble’s lowest rate ever.
When a currency loses its value, a country runs the risk of runaway inflation and other economic ills that can lead to widespread public discontent, as people watch their wealth dry up and their ability to purchase even basic products and services disappear.
Putin Has Exactly One Weapon Against Damage From The Ruble’s Fall
But the fall of the ruble is one problem Putin cannot solve by military might, by dispatching a team of assassins or by imprisoning dissidents. Yet so far, Putin has employed perhaps his best and only weapon against popular discontent caused by the ever-increasing worthlessness of Russia’s money supply.
That weapon is propaganda.
Most economists agree that one of the chief reasons for the decline of the ruble is the strong economic sanctions imposed by the United States and Europe against Russia, in retaliation for Putin’s aggressive moves against neighboring Ukraine. Those sanctions would go away if Putin gave up his territorial ambitions in Ukraine.
Bur rather than change his military policy, Putin has used his state-run television to persuade the Russian people that sanctions are actually good for Russia. An opinion poll taken in October showed a majority of Russians amazingly agreeing that increased sanctions on Russian by the West would have a beneficial effect on the country’s flagging economic fortunes.
Putin Propaganda So Far Proves Effective, Shielding President From Blame
The pro-Vladimir Putin government TV networks, which are where most Russians get their news, discuss the fall of the ruble only occasionally, and never cite Putin’s policies as a cause for the Russian currency collapse. Instead, the networks tend to promote conspiracy theories of foreign interference and other external factors as the causes of the ruble’s slide.
So far, the propaganda strategy is working. The Russian public’s approval of Vladimir Putin remains sky high. Only when cracks appear in Putin’s media operation will there be a chance that he could lose public approval — and the world may finally see the fall of Putin himself.