I'm a bit late posting this. Mark Ames's main point, that "all politics is local," was made by moi two weeks earlier than he in the post, "Ukraine's 'most dangerous 10 days'...and beyond."
Others have made Ames's point, that Putin's Ukraine policy is really all about boosting his popularity at home, not about defending Russia's interests:
This is a long background way of getting to the point that I want to make about understanding Putin by way of “all politics is local.” Putin lost the crucial big city yuppie class. They’re gone for good. There are a lot of ways an autocrat in a nominally democratic country can respond to that. Putin has chosen a new politics appealing to the Russian Silent Majority, and that means appealing to their resentments, heating up the culture wars between liberal Moscow and the slower, fearful masses in the rest of those eleven time zones. To exploit the huge differences between the Moscow liberals and yuppies opposed to Putin, and the rest of the country that resents them.[...]And that brings me to Putin and Ukraine. It goes without saying that Putin didn’t plan this crisis to happen — he already had his man in power in Kyiv. But Putin did exploit the situation, turning a major humiliating defeat in February into a massive political victory within Russia by doing what the Silent Majority would’ve wanted Putin to do: Redress grievances, air out resentments nonstop against the West and against west Ukraine fascists, and screw whatever the West thinks.There’s not much comfort here for any side in the West when you frame Putin’s actions through local politics.
Indeed, respected Russian pundit Andrei Piontkovsky argues that Putin is fighting for his actual life (not just his political life) in Russia! (Putin, says Piontkovsky, doesn't want to end up someday like Gaddafi.)
Although I do agree that "all politics is local," I don't agree with Ames 100%, especially when he throws the "fascist" label at all Ukrainians, or even the majority, who were on Maidan; and when he repeats the tired old lies that some indirect grants to journalists, pollsters and human rights groups somehow translated into a "Western-sponsored coup" in Ukraine. If only it were that easy! Then the USA would be handing out grants in a lot more countries!....
By Mark Ames
May 14, 2014 | Pando Daily