In a classic move ripped straight from Sun Tzu's "Art of War" -- the bible for military and espionage strategy -- Putin is also leveraging his opponents' inherent disorganization against them. Sun Tzu wrote: "When the general is weak and without authority; when his orders are not clear and distinct; when there are no fixed duties assigned to officers and men, and the ranks are formed in a slovenly haphazard manner, the result is utter disorganization." He calls disorganization a "calamity" to which an army is exposed.
The protesters have asked to meet with Putin to discuss their concerns. He responded that he can't meet with protest leaders because he doesn't know specifically what they want or who has any authority among them: "[They] should formulate some kind of common platform and common position, so that it's possible to understand what people want. Is there a common platform? No. Who is there to talk to?" He has found their precise Achilles' heel -- something President Obama failed to do, or intentionally overlooked because it nicely served his agenda to attack the wealthy.
Occupy Wall Street characterized itself early on as a movement without a single cause or goal, preferring instead to represent a collection of gripes. Rather than putting the onus on OWS to define itself concretely, Obama preferred to shadow-box, responding to the protesters by proposing student loan reforms that would save each debtor about $8 a month, according to research by The Atlantic. We see the result of responding to something undefined with lip service: The protests continue.
Putin insists that the protesters differentiate between leaders with authority and simple participants in the movement, and he requests that they define their platform. It's not a bad idea, since we may discover that most of the alternatives are far worse than Putin, and that true Russian democracy would be a poisoned chalice for the West.
And it's a good bet that as soon as these targets come into focus -- if they ever do -- they'll be addressed using the same strategies that prove Putin to be an excellent master of subversion.