Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Window on Eurasia: Putin, Now Marginalized Internationally, May Become Even More Dangerous, Oreshkin Says

Paul Goble


            Staunton, November 18 – The G-20 meeting in Brisbane demonstrated that “the marginalization of Putin is a fait accompli,” that he has failed to split the West, and that its leaders have no intention of acting as Neville Chamberlain did in the late 1930s, according to Dmitry Oreshkin.


            The Moscow political scientist, who is a member of Putin’s own Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights, says what happened in Australia was “a misfortune for Putin and for Putin’s Russia because his entire policy has been based on the assumption that the West is liberal and therefore cowardly” (ruspolitics.ru/article/read/marginalizacija-putina---sostojavshijsja-fakt.html).


            Certain that the Western leaders “fear war” more than anything else, Putin has followed a strategy of “raising the stakes and constant bluff” in order to get his way.  But “now the West has given him to understand that it sees his bluff and does not intend to fall for it,” a shift away from how the West has been acting for several decades.


            This new reality leaves Putin with an extremely unattractive choice: he could fold, a step that would be “rational” but is impossible because it would be “accompanied by a loss of face” and potentially much more. Or he could exploit what has happened abroad as the basis for a new propaganda campaign at home and possibly new actions abroad.


            Russians will now be told, Oreshkin says, that “the world is on the edge of war, that they must unify, mobilize and resist.” Putin thus has no other choice remaining, and to sustain this emotional state in Russian society, he will have to constantly “blow up someone or kill someone.”


            But at the same time, it is becoming ever more obvious that Russia lacks the resources to confront the West, Oreshkin suggests. “One must note that now nothing is being said about anti-missile defense. This theme has disappeared from discussions in the press and internationally as well. That means that the West has understood that it must shift this from Iran to Russia.”


            And that in turn means that “Putin understands” what that means for his chances against the West.


            Putin has been miscalculating all along: He assumed that Europe would be intimidated and it hasn’t been. He assumed that ethnic Russians in Ukraine would welcome his invasion, and they haven’t. And he assumed that he could purchase time by turning to China and selling Beijing Russia’s oil and gas, but the prospects for that are far from as clear as he imagines.


            All this is coming to a head and “what is most important,” it is doing so “quite quickly:” The ruble is falling as is Russia’s “international prestige.”  As a result, the situation is quite dangerous because Putin is someone who is spiteful and touchy and sometimes is inclined to overrate his own resources.”




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