It is said that to understand President Vladimir Putin it is first necessary to understand Aleksandr Dugin’s way of thinking.
The analyst and strategist, known for his ultranationalist views, he is considered by some to be Russia’s most influential thinker.
And because of his ascendancy over the Russian president, some call him Putin’s Rasputin in reference to Grigori Rasputin, the mystic who captivated Russia’s imperial court a century ago.
Dugin is believed to have been the mastermind behind Putin’s 2014 annexation of Crimea. Years ago, he also argued that military intervention in eastern Ukraine – which he calls Novorossiya (New Russia) – was necessary “to save the moral authority of Russia”.
And now, as the world watches the Russian invasion of Ukraine, many are revisiting Dugin’s ideas and his influence on Putin’s actions.
The “Eurasian Empire”
Dugin’s Philosophy known as Eurasianism.
He maintains that Orthodox Russia is neither of the East nor of the West, but a separate and unique civilization, a “Eurasian empire” engaged in a battle for its rightful place among the world powers.
And the primary mission of this civilization, Dugin believes, must be to challenge the domination of the United States in the world.
His theories have received wide support both among the “new right” in Europe and in the “alt-right“(alt right) from USA
Born in Moscow in 1962, Dugin worked as a journalist before becoming involved in politics shortly before the fall of communism.
In 1987, during the second year of Mikhail Gorbachev’s rule, Dugin joined the leadership of the notorious anti-Semitic Russian nationalist organization Pamyatand during the following years he served as a member of the Central Council of the group.
In the early 1990s, when the Soviet Union was close to collapsing, Dugin began to take on a more high-profile political role.
He formed an association with “statist patriots” in the communist camp and was, for a brief period, close to Genadii Zyuganov, the leader of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation.
In an article on the Stanford University Center for Europe website, Russian political expert John B. Dunlop writes that in 1991, when the USSR collapsed, Dugin met a leading neo-fascist writer with ties to elements of the Russian military. , Aleksandr Prokhanov, whose magazine give’ it served to spread the ideas of the “red-brown opposition” (socialist-fascist).
“Dugin soon emerged as one of Den”s main ideologues,” notes Dunlop.
Shortly thereafter he began editing his own magazine, Elementyand founded the Arktogeya publishing house.
But, according to Dunlop, it was in 1998 that Dugin’s career gave a jump being appointed geopolitical adviser to Gennadii Seleznevwho was chairman of the Duma and a major player in Russian politics.
A year later, Dugin founded the Geopolitical Experience Center in Moscow.
In an article in his magazine, he explained that the center could become “an analytical instrument of the Eurasian Platform for, simultaneously, the Presidential Administration, the Government of the Russian Federation, the Federation Council and the State Duma.”
His ideas and strategies seemed to take hold in 2000 when he met Gleb Pavlovskii, one of the main ideologues in the government of then-newly elected President Vladimir Putin.
And everything seemed to be clear when that year Putin publicly declared that “Russia has always perceived itself as a Eurasian country.”
Dugin later said that Putin’s admission was “historic, grandiose and revolutionary” and that it changed “everything”.
Dugin has since served as a professor at Moscow State University, has planned courses for Russian military institutions, and often appears on major Russian television channels.
In 2015, the US government sanctioned him for his proximity to the Kremlin and his apparent influence in the annexation of Crimea the previous year.
The text book”
Dugin founded the Eurasia Party in 2001. to promote his Eurasian ideas.
He then said the movement would emphasize cultural diversity in Russian politics and oppose “American-style globalization, and also resist a return to communism and nationalism.”
It was in 1997 when he published “The Basics of Geopolitics: The Geopolitical Future of Russia”, a seminal book in which he lays out the details for Russia to rebuild its power globally.
Some analysts assure that this book marked Putin’s vision of Russia and its place in the world and that every general in the Russian army reads it at some point.
In it he writes that, to achieve its geopolitical goals, Russia will need “disinformation, destabilization and annexation.”
In addition, he points out that Russian agents should foment racial, religious and regional divisions within the United States while promoting isolationist factions in that country.
It also indicates that in the UK psychological operations should focus on exacerbate historical ruptures with continental Europe (2 decades ahead of Brexit), and separatist movements in Scotland, Wales and Ireland.
Dugin also argues that Western Europe should be drawn to Russia for its natural resources: oil, gas and food, while NATO collapses from within.
Dugin also wrote that one of the targets of Russia’s annexations should be Ukraine. His idea is that an independent Ukraine stands in the way of Russia becoming a transcontinental superpower.
“Ukraine as an independent state with certain territorial ambitions represents a huge danger for all of Eurasia,” he writes, and “without solving the Ukrainian problem, it generally makes no sense to talk about continental politics.”
Many see Russia’s actions in recent years – meddling in US elections and the Brexit process, and with conflicts such as those in Georgia or eastern Ukraine – as an example of the influence of Dugin’s Eurasianist ideas about Putin and his collaborators.
The “Russian truth”
To achieve this “new Russian reality,” Dugin has relied on a carefully constructed philosophical framework in which the truth seems to have been cast aside.
“Truth is a matter of belief,” Dugin said in an interview with the program Newsnight from the BBC in 2017.
“Postmodernity shows that in every supposed truth the only thing that counts is what you believe”.
“So, we believe in what we do, we believe in what we say. And this is the only way to define the truth. So we have our special russian truth and you have to accept it,” he said.
He added: “If the United States does not want to start a war, it must be recognized that the United States is no longer a single master.”
“Y [con] the situation in Syria and Ukraine, Russia is telling him: ‘No, you are not the boss anymore.’ That is the question of who rules the world. Only war can really decide.”
As David Von Drehle wrote in Washington PostDugin’s work “can be summed up in one idea: the wrong alliance won World War II.”
“If only Hitler hadn’t invaded Russia, Britain might have broken up. America would have stayed home, isolated and divided, and Japan would have ruled ancient China as Russia’s junior partner.”