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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, 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 Rosemarys 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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