Editor’s note: Frida Ghitis, (@fridaghitis) former producer and correspondent for CNN, is a world affairs columnist. She is a weekly opinion contributor for CNN, a columnist for The Washington Post and a columnist for the World Politics Review. The opinions expressed in this comment belong solely to its author. See more opinions on CNN.
(CNN) — The world woke up this Wednesday morning with the latest threat of the former president and former prime minister of Russia, Dmitry Medvedev.
On Twitter, Medvedev, the current vice president of Russia’s Security Council, attacked the UK as Russia’s “eternal enemy” and accused it of leading an “undeclared war” against Russia. Advertisement menacingly that “any of its public officials… may be considered a legitimate military target” by Moscow.
Medvedev, who has a long history of outlandish statements, was responding to a comment by UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly, who claimed that Ukraine has “right to project forces beyond its borders” as part of his self defense. Cleverly said he was referring to military targets in a broader sense, but his remarks came just after drone strikes were launched inside Russia. Ukraine has denied any direct involvement.
In case there was any doubt that Medvedev’s words amounted to a threat, Russian state-controlled media RT, which tries to pose as a legitimate news organizationreported that Medvedev had “issued a warning” to London.
For years, the behavior of the Russian authorities has resembled that of a mafia organization more than that of a normal state. And Medvedev has become the man who makes the exaggerated threats of the regime.
He does it by trafficking in fear. He’s like the fictional character who appears out of nowhere, stares straight ahead with an expressionless face and slowly draws his finger down his throat—a not-so-subtle message from the boss. For those who receive Medvedev’s invective, in the Ukraine and the West, the question is how seriously his threats are to be taken. Are you looking to curry favor with Putin with his rudeness? Or does he speak on behalf of the President of Russia?
Scare tactics against London are by no means Medvedev’s most outrageous. He has repeatedly warned, for example, that Russia could use nuclear weapons. When Putin warned last year that Moscow could take such a step, the statement earned it a Stern warning from China’s leader, Xi Jinping, the only friend you can’t afford to lose. So it seems the Russian leader has delegated much, if not all, of the threat-making to Medvedev, who rages on social media, a ventriloquist number, while Putin tries to maintain a relatively statesmanlike countenance.
In January, for example, Medvedev wrote on Telegram: “The defeat of a nuclear power in a conventional war can trigger a nuclear war.” The following month, he warned on Twitter: “Ukrainian gang of drug addicts must understand that [atacar Crimea] will be met with inevitable reprisals using weapons of any kindAnd in May, Medvedev noted on Twitter that the more destructive the weapons the West delivers to Ukraine, “the closer the possibility of the nuclear apocalypse”. Medvedev also previously stated that “Poland should not exist” (earning a brief ban from Twitter) and that Ukraine could soon disappear from the map.
On Telegram, Medvedev threatened to Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina when he visited Kyiv and praised US support as money well spent. Local media misrepresented Graham’s words, claiming that he had said that killing Russians, not US aid to Ukraine, was a good investment. Medvedev countered, grimly noting that people are regularly killed in the United States, and listing US politicians who have been assassinated.
Evidence abounds that the Kremlin is indeed dangerous. For years, those who have dared to criticize the regime have been killed both on Russian soil and abroad. and the rhythm of mysterious deaths it appears to have accelerated since Putin launched his unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, though the Kremlin has long denied involvement.
Last weekend, the Deputy Minister of Science, Piotr Kucherenko, 46, fell ill in mid-flight while returning from a trip to Cuba. Shortly before he died, he had described Russia’s war against Ukraine as a “fascist invasion.” The cause of death remains unexplained.
countless others they fell out of the window after criticizing Putin or his war. And those who survive assassination attempts allegedly by the regimesuch as opposition leader Alexey Navalny and human rights activist Vladimir Kara-Murza, they land in prison camps with sentences of decades. As it has done in other cases where Kremlin critics have been targeted, Moscow has denied it played a role in the poisoning of Navalny and Kara-Murza.
However, this is not just a case of Putin, the puppeteer, speaking through his former prime minister. Medvedev’s social media posts seem almost like declarations of loyalty. He may be trying to regain favorite status from him at a time when tensions in Moscow are running high, and his actions are nowhere near as high as they used to be.
There was a time when Medvedev enjoyed the absolute trust of Putin and was seen, at least in the West, as his successor. potentially more moderate. When Putin ran into presidential term limits in 2008, he nominated Medvedev for president, while he became prime minister.
Putin didn’t have to worry that his loyal supporter decided he wanted to nudge him and stay in power. In 2012, both changed jobs, and Putin became president again. Putin later had the constitution changed so that he could remain president for many years.
But over time, Medvedev’s star faded. In 2020, I quit to the post of prime minister, in what some observers considered his inevitable fall from grace. The Kremlin leader had become a kind of a laughing stock. She had been seen dozing off during Putin’s speeches and had become a social media meme. Navalny and his followers they mocked him endlessly, posting videos of Medvedev asleep in the front row of Putin’s monotonous speeches. That sure wasn’t to the boss’s liking.
Then came a devastating documentary of the Navalny Anti-Corruption Foundation, which has already been viewed 46 million times on YouTube. Navalny and his team document what they allege is evidence that Medvedev embezzled $1.2 billion, becoming the owner of mansions, yachts and even a vineyard in Italy. Some observers say that was the final blow for what they called an act of batman and robin by Putin and his once faithful crony, who had to resign, even though he has strongly denied the accusations.
With the war in Ukraine a pivotal moment in Russian history, Putin remains at the center of the mafia government he has built. And Medvedev knows that he needs to keep his trust.
He may try to look tough, threatening British officials and US senators, and raising the prospect of nuclear armageddon, to impress the boss. But Medvedev knows that, above all else, he needs Putin to see him as unequivocally loyal and useful. Anything else could prove disastrous.
Source: CNN Espanol