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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

Saturday, Oct. 25


AVA Expo, the eighth edition of the event revolving around all things pop, returns to Lenexpo this weekend. Geeks, nerds, dweebs and dorks will have their chance to talk science fiction and explore a variety of international pop culture. Tickets for the event can be purchased on their website at avaexpo.ru.



Sunday, Oct. 26


Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the clubs website.



Monday, Oct. 27


Today marks the end of the art exhibit Neophobia at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).



Tuesday, Oct. 28


The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBAs Marketing and Communications Committees round table discussion on Government Relations Practices in Russia this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.



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