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Blackmail Is a Bad Policy to Advance Russia's Interests

Published: May 14, 2014 (Issue # 1810)




  • Photo: Presidential Press Service / Kremlin.ru

While President Vladimir Putins short-term goals in Ukraine are discernible, his strategic objectives remain largely a mystery.

In Ukraine, the Kremlin aims for the Bosnification of Ukraine a loose confederation, with the eastern and southern regions forming a Russia-dominated statelet like Respublica Srpska, which one of two political entities in Bosnia and Herzegovina. This would in theory give Russia veto power over Ukraines membership in NATO or the European Union, while still preserving the option of one day reincorporating historic Russian lands into Russia. Whether this includes what Putin calls New Russia or even more territory is debatable.

Bosnification would logically need a new Dayton, a negotiated solution in which great powers dictate to Ukraine its new constitutional setup one that matches Moscows vision. Whether a new Dayton would emerge from pre-emptive Western diplomacy or a civil war will break out in Ukraine with Russia leading a peace-enforcement operation depends on the intensity of Ukraines pushback.

Strategically, though, it is unclear where Putin is heading. The Kremlin talks vaguely about revising the post-Cold War order to recognize Russias geopolitical interests in the post-Soviet space. According to the Kremlins vision, the West should not encroach on Russias sphere of interests in its backyard. It also should retrench in some places where it had advanced when Russia was too weak to block it.

Russia seeks formal recognition of its status as a global power on par with the U.S., including de facto veto power on U.S. and NATO military action. Moscow assumes the world is tired of Western global dominance and would readily welcome Russias lead to challenge it across the board.

Although ambitious, this does not add up to a viable strategy. Blackmail and a refusal to play by the rules are inadequate tools to secure your interests. There has to be a positive platform other nations could support.

Here Putin comes short, offering no specifics on what new world order he wants to usher in. Few have signed on to vacuous initiatives like the pan-European security treaty or the Lisbon-Vladivostok free trade zone.

The president seems more interested in disrupting the existing international arrangements than in promoting new ones. Unpredictability has become his principal foreign policy asset.

Vladimir Frolov is president of LEFF Group, a government relations and PR company.





 

ALL ABOUT TOWN

Wednesday, Sept. 3


Although the Peter and Paul Fortress sand sculptures are more central and therefore more visible to the throngs of tourists, the 300th Anniversary Park of St. Petersburgs own collection closes today. The World Collection of Sand Sculptures that have been on display at the park reaches its final day, so fans of the classic beach activity should get there while they can.



Thursday, Sept. 4


Vladimir I. Danchenkov, Head of Baltic Customs, will be in attendance during AmChams Customs and Transportation Committee Meeting convening this afternoon at the organizations office near St. Isaacs Square at 3 p.m.



Friday, Sept. 5


Scrabble lovers and chess masters get their chance to assert their intellectual dominance at the return of the British Book Centers Board Game Evenings tonight. Held weekly on Friday nights, the event gives both board game lovers and those hoping to improve their English the chance to meet, greet and compete. Check out the centers VK page for more details.



Saturday, Sept. 6


Athletes will relish the chance to get the latest gear and try out something new at I Choose Sport, an annual event at Lenexpo forum that plans to welcome more than 30,000 people this week to the international exhibition center. Not only will visitors get to try their hand at various athletic endeavors but they will also be able to peruse equipment that can fulfill their dreams of becoming a champion.


Local KHL team SKA St. Petersburg open their season this evening at home against Lokomotiv Yarovslavl at the Ice Palace arena next to the Prospekt Bolshevikov metro station. See their website for a full schedule and available tickets.



Sunday, Sept. 7


Check out retro and antique cars at Fort Konstantin on Kronstadt Island in the Gulf of Finland at FORTuna, a yearly car festival that highlights the eccentricities of the Soviet automobile industry. A car race, contests and a stunt show will give visitors a chance to rev their engines.



Monday, Sept. 8


This evening marks the opening of the two-week ballet festival High Season at the Mikhailovsky Theater. Check the theaters website for more details about performances and featured dancers.



Tuesday, Sept. 9


Discuss the latest news and issues at the AmCham Hazardous Waste Management Roundtable this morning in the Tango Conference Hall of the Sokos Hotel Palace Bridge on Birzhevoy Pereulok. Starting at 9 a.m., planned topics include the Krasny Bor landfill and waste transportation between Russia and Finland.


Learn more about the citys modern architectural trends at the SPIBA Real Estate and Construction Committees meeting on the topic Contemporary Petersburg Style: What is It? Participants will get the chance to discuss whats in-demand with RBI Holdings Irina Petrova and Lubava Pryanikova, and the current state of the local real estate market. Please confirm your attendance by Sept. 5 through SPIBAs website if you wish to attend.



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