This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Rising From Frustrated Impotence to Global Power

"Yes [Putin] is authoritarian, yes he uses extralegal methods to put down opposition and dissent, but it's small potatoes to what our allies do on a daily basis."
Norman Pereira, Russian historian, Dalhousie University

"The Russian mantra is that Russia is a great power [which is actually somewhat dubious -- land mass and nuclear weapons aside], and the Kremlin has been able to project that image on the international arena."
Jeanne Wilson, Russian foreign policy expert, Wheaten College, Wheaten, Illinois
Vladimir Putin answers questions from the press at the October 2016 BRICS Summit. Wikimedia Commons/Kremlin.ru

"Due to the consequences of the Ukrainian crisis, the new Concept now includes a special point that covers Moscow’s readiness to oppose any attempt to using human rights as an instrument of political pressure and interference in the internal affairs of any state in order to unseat legitimate governments."
"Over the past four years, Russia has taken a number of steps to limit various organizations activities on its territory. For example, a law on “foreign agents” was passed, according to which any organizations that are engaged in political activity, operate on the territory of the Russian Federation and receive funding from abroad will be registered in a separate list."
"These organizations are required to provide a report on their activities and on the composition of their governing bodies twice a year. In addition, large sums of transferred money are also to be controlled. Besides that, the activity of the United States Agency for International Development is now completely prohibited in Russia."
The National Interest
Russia was bereft of its friends and allies, all of whom hastily dissolved their relationship with Russia on the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The former satellites of the USSR took little time in abandoning the sinking ship of the grimly controlling nation that assured them that all were equal under the aegis of the USSR, even while they were being manipulated and forced to abandon any thought of reverting to their previous status as autonomous sovereign nations, held firmly in the grip of a superpower.

While Russia was left to mourn the sudden collapse of its eastern European empire, the freed nations got on with being who they were untrammeled by the status they had so long chafed under, as appendages of Russia. Finding itself alone, little wonder Moscow was bitter and resolved to get on with its own future, stumbling badly on the way before recovering itself as a reinvented Greater Russian Federation. Made all the more greater by availing itself of parts of Georgia and Ukraine.

The Kremlin's assertiveness in world affairs signalled a resolve to return to the days of USSR influence as a reborn world power. One which, despite a flailing economy still focused on re-building its military arsenal and deploying its troops in what it considered to be troublespots where a Russian presence could guarantee growing influence and prestige. Succeeding where others failed, as for example, Syria. That their president chose to invest in the military despite economic problems at home sat surprisingly well with most Russians.

Their pride and their honour, after all, were being restored. They too, like their president, yearned for a return of their influential past where pride and honour resided; easy enough to forget the hardships and disappointments and fears of the past, as though the threat of the Siberian gulag never existed. Of course, influence was still there, in the permanent Security Council seat alongside China, France, Britain and the United States, where Russia could exercise its censure options alongside China, its uneasy partner in roguishness.

As for Russia's destabilizing effect in eastern Europe, one could convincingly argue that this is Russia's neighbourhood, the near-abroad, so that the presence of NATO, reassuring the Baltic states that they would be defended against Russian incursion is as popular with Russians as a Russian presence in Canada would be to the United States; similar in fact to the Russian presence in Cuba, abutting the United States and we know what happened then in nuclear diplomacy.

Russia never managed to doff the mantle of  'Cold War enemy status' despite a brief initial love affair that never solidified with the United States when George W. Bush declared that looking deep into Vladimir Putin's eyes he could see someone he would have no problem getting along with. Obama and Putin have no such love affair. And that is a matter that may change in the very near future when Obama is no longer in the Oval Office and a Putin-collegial Trump will be.

Fort Russ News

Mr. Obama's expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats as an expression of piqued retaliation for alleged Russian interference in the American election which failed to secure Hillary Clinton the presidency to ensure the prolongation of the Obama doctrine in foreign affairs was coolly received by Mr. Putin of whom Mr. Obama once said: "The truth is, actually, Putin, in all of our meetings, is scrupulously polite, very frank", but which failed to result in a cementing of good relations between the two seems on the cusp of turning full circle.

If Vladimir Putin was able to convince his American counterpart that working together on the Syria file by sidestepping red lines and failing to arm Syrian rebel groups sufficiently to allow them to successfully challenge the vicious brute who presented himself as the only alternative in Syria to terrorism by slaughtering a half-million of his own people as terrorists, the incoming American president should be putty in his hands.

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