Proliferation Press

A webpage devoted to tracking and analyzing current events related to the proliferation of WMD/CBRN.

Worldview Clash on Russia: PINR & Commentary’s contentions

Posted by K.E. White on February 14, 2007

Putin grabbed headlines with his weekend speech in Berlin deriding unilateral American foreign policy, earning himself a polite, but stern rebuttal by Secretary Robert Gates.

So is this Cold War II, or World War V? (That latter reference considers the Cold War and the War on Terror as WWIII and WWIV respectively.)

To get some insight on Russian foreign policy and its ramifications, Proliferation Press brings you two worldview snippets.

But before we get there, The Boston Globe offers this response to Putin’s speech.

Two Viewpoints on Putin’s Russia

 

 

PINR’s Yevgeny Bendersky:

 

 

Moscow has been closely observing U.S. hegemonic practices since 1991, and has extracted several important lessons. The level of influence exercised by the United States throughout the world is costly and problematic, even if it yields important short-term results. Superpower status also has its limitations, as the U.S. invasion of Iraq demonstrated both the scope and ability of its armed forces and initial political pressure, as well as the need for extensive alliances in the medium and long run. The said invasion also showcased Russia’s ability to launch at least a partially successful challenge to the United States in tandem with France, Germany and China. Thus, Russian foreign policy can be expected to utilize extensive alliance-building, covering as many “bases” as possible without damaging its international credibility.

It would be difficult for Russia to rise once again as a global superpower in the absence of an ideology capable of polarizing the international community into two camps, thus aiding alliances and constructing independent economic and political spheres of influence. The world in the coming decades will still be dominated by the United States, but will undergo a transformation, as more countries will assume greater economic and political clout.

Therefore, Russia will seek to build “alliances of convenience” with these countries — whether they be China, India, the European Union, or even Indonesia or Brazil — in order to extend its influence around the world. This is premised on the fact that Russia’s foreign policy will follow Putin’s doctrines, for he is expected to step down in 2008. Much can take place after that year if his successors will not be able to sustain the country on a track launched by him when he took office in 2000.

Nonetheless, Russia can be expected to continue its policy of “superpower on the cheap” — that is, building credible alliances to share the costs of global influence, instead of paying these costs themselves, as the Soviet Union did in the Cold War. This approach can potentially allow it to increase its global influence and status without extensively damaging its domestic and international standing. Russia may even end up as an ally of the United States if the right opportunity presents itself. Its foreign policy could stay as one of well-calculated pragmatism, making it a very important international player in the coming decades.

 

 

Joshua Muravchik from Commentary’s blog contentions:

 

Move over, Borat. The hottest new voice in comedy is Vladimir Putin, otherwise known as the man who saved Russia from freedom and democracy. Putin convulsed his audience at the Munich Conference on Security with this sparkling one-liner: “Nobody feels secure any more, because nobody can take safety behind the stone wall of international law[,]”…

Putin is understandably peeved that the expansion of NATO has already diminished Russia’s security by depriving it of its historic freedom to invade its neighbors. Now, adding insult to injury, Washington is considering placing anti-missile systems in Poland and the Czech Republic. This would mean that Russia could not even fire rockets at these countries just to send them a message about, say, the advantages of buying more Russian gas at higher prices.

Putin has been forced to parry further assaults on Russia’s security, waged by American NGO’s that have set up operations inside Russia to promote democracy and human rights. “Russia is constantly being taught democracy,” he protested.

Is this how we repay Putin for all that he has done to enhance our security? He has furnished Iran with nuclear technology in order, so he explained, to make sure that Iran does not “feel cornered.” He has gone to great lengths to protect us from the likes of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Anna Politkovskaya, and Alexander Litvinenko. Above all, is this the reward that Putin deserves for having worked so hard to keep the world safe from Chechnya?

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