18 August 2008

Clumsy Bully Russia Isolates Itself Internationally

Russia's blundering invasion of Georgia has exposed Moscow's leadership for neo-imperialists and thugs. The good thing about Putin's miscalculation is how well it exposed the EU's "soft diplomacy" for the idiocy that it is. Putin respects the EU's soft diplomace as much as he respects doormats and toilet paper. But he would have been much more clever to make the EU think otherwise for a while longer.
The price that Russia is paying for the invasion of Georgia is increased isolation. The major regional powers of the modern world are the US, China, the EU, Russia, India and Japan. Since the Georgian invasion, Russia has had strained relations with the US and Europe, and no major friends. Russia is a large Asian power, stretching to the Pacific Ocean, but the three most important Asian powers, China, India and Japan, do not have close or trusting relations with it.

Of the six world powers, or groups of powers, Russia is seen as the least reliable, the least friendly.....Russia is increasingly isolated from its “near abroad”. To Georgians, Ukrainians or citizens of the Baltic states, Mr Putin's Russia appears to be following a “bad neighbour policy”. For the Russian voter, Putinism may appear to be reasserting Russia's position in the world; to its neighbours, Russia is now an ugly threat....

Russia has essential interests in common with the West. Global trade, a stable European market for oil and gas, resistance to Islamic terrorism, avoidance of military conflict, investment in modernisation. It was hoped that Russia and the West could build on these interests to cement good relations and strengthen the global economy.

The first European reactions to the invasion of Georgia showed that Europe hoped to protect this co-operative policy. Had Russia limited the Georgian operation to the protection of South Ossetian refugees, but kept troops out of Georgia proper, a co-operative policy might have been maintained. Instead, there has been broad Russian aggression against Georgian territory.

The delay in the ceasefire and the extension of the invasion far beyond the boundary of South Ossetia has created a very different climate, made worse by threats to target nuclear weapons against Poland and, it appears, Ukraine as well.

In a world of global trade, Russia cannot afford to be isolated. No doubt the Kremlin hawks are riding high now. Yet as Sir Robert Walpole said of a mid 18th-century war: “They now ring the bells, but they will soon wring their hands.” _Timesonline
Of course Putin is slicing off his own nose to spite his face. He is adding miscalculation to miscalculation. Is anyone in a position of leadership within Russia capable of recognising the increasingly suicidal course that Putin has set for the country? If so, they are afraid for their lives, so they remain silent.

Russia is underpopulated for the size of its territory as it is, but considering Putin's ambitions--on top of the crashing demographic decrease of ethnic Russians--and Russia will simply be unable to defend its borders within a few decades.

If Russia were a friend to anyone in the world, perhaps it could rely on its neighbors for mutual aid and protection, like Canada does with the US. But almost all of Russia's neighbors have been turned into enemies, except perhaps China. And China is only biding its time until it can seize Russia's immense Siberian mineral wealth.

And so we see the mindlessly self-defeating nature of Putin's macho gesture against the Georgians. The fallout is just beginning.

Previously published at abu al-fin


Bookmark and Share


<< Home

Newer Posts Older Posts