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How the West Helps Putin Fulfill His CIS Strategy

Published: April 7, 2014 (Issue # 1804)


Western democracies fear Russia's power so much that the U.S. and the European Union are actively striving to prevent President Vladimir Putin from reintegrating the Commonwealth of Independent States countries into a Eurasian Union. Fully aware of the competitive nature of today's multipolar world, Washington and Brussels do not believe that Russia can be a reliable, significant and responsible contributor to international security and order. Russia, in turn, demands that Western powers behave as equal strategic partners in the global arena.

Indeed, the Russian factor plays a key role in the unfolding security situation in the CIS region. Despite outside strategic concerns like the ongoing crises in Ukraine, the North Caucasus and other parts of the former Soviet Union, Russia has so far taken a proactive stance in CIS affairs, trying to convince the West that the Kremlin has major potential in resolving security issues in their own backyard.

More recently, Moscow has succeeded in strengthening ties with Yerevan and Baku, with the West progressively losing ground to increasing Russian economic, military and political advancement in the South Caucasus, as evidenced by Russia's military agreement with Armenia and growing energy ties with Azerbaijan. Similar steps have been taken toward Central Asian states where incumbent regimes do not want the West to interfere in their internal affairs. Moscow is trying to create strong new content-based relations with CIS countries, and all the latest political steps by the Kremlin have been aimed at enhancing Russia's geopolitical position in the post-Soviet Eurasia.

Russia's successful foreign policy in the region also results from the failure of other international players in the area, or at least the systemized weakening of their stances. U.S. President Barack Obama's shortsighted policy has seriously weakened U.S. strategic objectives in the CIS. Washington's failure to craft any coherent vision as to how the post-Soviet territory fits into broader U.S. strategy has allowed its role to be increasingly defined through the prism of Russia. The lack of a meaningful U.S. response to the challenge presented by the protracted conflicts in Nagorno-Karabakh, Abkhazia, South Ossetia and the self-proclaimed republic of Transdnestr not only highlights the low level of U.S. engagement in the conflict-torn regions but also casts doubt on the U.S.' ability to be an effective player in international organizations like the United Nations and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Wednesday, Jan. 28



Feel like becoming a publishing mogul? Stop by the Freedom anti-cafe at 7 Ulitsa Kazanskaya today at 8 p.m. where Simferopol, Crimea-based founder and chief editor of the Holst online magazine will talk about creating an internet magaine, including what stories to cover, how find an audience and build a team, where to find inspiration and how to stand out from the crowd. Admission is the normal price of the anti-café — 2 rubles per minute, which includes tea and snacks.



Learn everything you always wanted to know about wine, and perhaps a bit more, at the Le Nez du Vin seminar for wine lovers. Held at the WineJet Sommelier School, 100 Bolshoy Prospekt Petrograd Side, at 7:30 p.m., the event will cover wine production, the basics of wine tasting, the concept of terroir and the various countries where wine is produced. Tickets are 750 rubles and include a wine tasting. Register by calling +7 921 744 6264.



Thursday, Jan. 29



Attend a master class on how to deal with complicated business negotiations today at the International Banking Institute, 6 Malaya Sadovaya Ulitsa. Running from 3 to 6 p.m., Vadim Sokolov, an assistant professor at the St. Petersburg State University of Economics, will introduce aspects of managing the negotiation process and increasing its effectiveness. Attendance is free with pre-registration by telephone on 909 3056 or online at www.ibispb.ru



Celebrate what would be writer Anton Chekhov's 155th birthday at the Bokvoed bookshop at 46 Nevsky Prospekt. Starting at 5 p.m., the legendary author will be feted with readings of his stories and short performances based on his plays by various St. Petersburg actors. Chekhov's books will also be offered at a 15% discount during the event.



Friday, Jan. 30



The Lermontov Central Library, 19 Liteyny Prospekt, will screen 'Almost Famous’ in English with Russian subtitles at 6:30 p.m. Cameron Crowe's Academy Award-winning comedy from 2000 stars Billy Crudup, Kate Hudson, and Patrick Fugit, and tells the story of a budding music journalist at Rolling Stone magazine in the 1970s. Admission is free.



Meet renowned Russian poet, journalist and writer Dmitry Bykov, famous for his biographies of Boris Pasternak, Bulat Okudzhava and Maxim Gorky, and winner of 2006 National Bestseller Award. Bykov will read old and new poems as well as answer questions about his works at the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, Main Hall, at 7 p.m. Tickets start at 1,000 rubles and are available at city ticket offices and the from the Philharmonic website www.philharmonia.spb.ru.



A retrospective of the films of Roman Polanski starts today at Loft-Project Etagi, 74 Ligovsky Prospekt, with a screening of ‘Repulsion’ at 7 p.m. and ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ at 9:15 p.m. The series runs through Feb. 4 and will include Polanski's eminently creepy ‘The Tenant,’ the cult comedy ‘The Fearless Vampire Killers’ and ‘Cul-de-sac’ among others. Tickets are 150-200 rubles and the complete schedule is available at www.vk.com/artpokaz/



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