This supposed rebuttal of Putin, which "rebuttal" calls Putin's points spurious, is reframing the point to create a strawman to knock down. It does not actually rebut Putin's points.President Putin did not say no money changed hands. However, the damage done to the Russian economy by the neoliberal, unhelpful, counterproductive hand shoved into Russia while the unfortunate drunkard, Yeltsin, was "in charge" is deliberately not brought up by Leonid Bershidsky, the article's author.
Bershidsky says Russian nukes were still a threat, as if that defeats Putin's larger picture. Putin: "Once the condition of the nuclear complex, the armed forces and the economy had been seen, international law appeared to be unnecessary." You'll notice that Putin was referring to Russia's total situation. It was in zero shape to fight the US. Russia was in a severe, Western-induced depression and under chaotic leadership at best. Unlike the current shape of Russia, there was almost a complete lack of ability to use MAD as any sort of foreign or military stick.
Bershidsky says that Putin's expressed view about the 1917 Bolshevik revolution is spinning. If Bershidsky cares to debate Putin's view, I'm here. I can more than defend what Putin stated about that. I know he's exactly right, and I know how to explain it. Good historians and political scientists have known very well for many, many decades that capitalism was dragged kicking and screaming into the mixed economy with welfare-state aspects and the other aspects Putin mentioned while working overtime domestically and internationally to thwart the very cause they were so dragged: the competition socialism posed (and still does in its truly democratic form) for the hearts and minds of the masses.
Where Putin fails in his understanding and expression is that he avoids the subject of the right-wing within Communism versus the left-wing within socialism. Russia and the USSR were not democratic-socialist states/unions.
The rest of Bershidsky's screed is his imagination/speculation, his own sales pitch, spinning what he claims is Putin's spin.