Staunton, October 29 -- Convinced that international law and human values are either nonsense or “a manifestation of liberal hypocrisy,” Vladimir Putin has acted in ways to return the world to a kind of Jurassic Park in which victory goes to the strongest, Aleksandr Golts says. But the Kremlin leader’s strategy has a problem: Russia is far from the strongest dinosaur.
As a result, the independent commentator argues in Yezhednevny zhurnal, Moscow not only does not achieve as much as it expects but often finds itself in a losing position because other countries even if they feel compelled to play by Moscow’s rules gravitate not to Putin but to the leaders of more powerful states (ej.ru/?a=note&id=34337).
This past week, for example, the Kremlin leader discovered that all the media hype notwithstanding, neither his Russia-Africa summit nor his agreement with Turkey’s Erdogan had the results he expected. The Africans pocketed Russian largesse but continue to look to China, Europe and the US as more important and powerful players.
And the Russian-Turkish agreement on the Kurds, which Moscow and some international media celebrated as the embodiment of Realpolitik and even “’a new Yalta,’ quickly turned out to be something else entirely because, in Golts’ words, “the Kremlin hardly has the influence n the participants of the process Putin was certain he did.”
The Kurds said they would ignore the agreement, and the Turks responded by saying they would attack. That leaves Russia and its battalions on the ground in a position where “without doubt, each of the sides will accuse the Russian military for any breakdown in the agreement” rather than living up to its terms.
But the most important way in which Putin’s Realpolitik in Syria broke down came when US President Donald Trump gave an order for US forces to maintain their control over the oilfields in precisely the area Putin hoped to move Russian forces in to take the place of the American ones.
And despite its obvious displeasure at Trump’s move, there was nothing Moscow could do: Putin’s press secretary simply conceded that “the news could not elicit a negative reaction on the part of the Russian authorities.” Thus, as Golts puts it, Putin achieved only “the doubtful satisfaction of standing between Turks and Kurds” and Washington got Syrian oil.
‘Bismarck or Stalin would have had a good laugh about that, if they had learned about the achievements of Vladimir Putin in Realpolitik,” the independent Moscow commentator says.