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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

Friday, Oct. 31


Put your grammar and logical thinking to the test in a fun and friendly environment during the British Book Centers Board Game Evening starting at 5 p.m. today. The event is free and all are welcome to attend.



Saturday, Nov. 1


The men and women who dedicate their lives to fitness get their chance to compete for the title of best body in Russia at todays Grand Prix Fitness House PRO, the nations premier bodybuilding competition. Not only will men and women be competing for thousands of dollars in prizes and a trip to represent their nation at Mr. Olympia but sporting goods and nutritional supplements will also be available for sale. Learn more about the culture of the Indian subcontinent during Diwali, the annual festival of lights that will be celebrated in St. Petersburg this weekend at the Culture Palace on Tambovskaya Ul. For 100 rubles ($2.40), festival-goers listen to Indian music, try on traditional Indian outfits and sample dishes highlighting the culinary diversity of the billion-plus people in the South Asian superpower.



Sunday, Nov. 2


Check out the latest video and interactive games at the Gaming Festival at the Mayakovsky Library ending today. Meet with the developers of the popular and learn more about their work, or learn how to play one of their creations with the opportunity to ask the creators themselves about the exact rules.



Monday, Nov. 3


Non-athletes can get feed their need for competition without breaking a sweat at the Rock-Paper-Scissors tournament this evening at the Cube Bar at Lomonosova 1. Referees will judge the validity of each matchup award points to winners while the citys elite fight for the chance to be called the best of the best. Those hoping to play must arrange a team beforehand and pay 200 rubles ($4.80) to enter.



Tuesday, Nov. 4


Attend the premiere of Canadian director Xavier Dolans latest film Mommy at the Avrora theater this evening. The fifth picture from the 25-year-old, it is the story of an unruly teenager but the most alluring (or unappealing) aspect is the way the film was shot: in a 1:1 format that is more reminiscent of Instagram videos than cinematic art. Tickets cost 400 rubles ($9.60) and snacks and drinks will be available.



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