Putin-Medvedev Politics and Russian Foreign Policy
-DR. ABDUL RUFF
Russia has inherited the Soviet legacy so far as governance is concerned and Putin has made best use of the Russian psyche that only strongmen like Putin who killed Chechens stock and barrel to come to power in 2000 alone can save Russia. There is a strong opinion that there is a need in Russia to change presidents more often.
It is now a foregone conclusion that Russia's strongman Vladimir Putin would return to presidency next year for a third term, probably also to continue for another two consecutive terms allowed by the constitution.
Historically, Russians are made to think of a strong leader like Ivan Grozny or Peter the Great to advance external manoeuvrings for a new empire building by using Russia's veto handle on notorious UNSC. The decision to return Putin to the presidency in 2012 also highlights growing nervousness within Russia over the international situation, in particular Russian relations with the US.
Sept-11 hoax has benefited, like USA, EU, India and Israel, greatly Russia as well in pursuing its ever-exceeding interests globally and outsmart the leaders of the Chechen freedom struggle by employing terrorism ploy against them. Moreover, Moscow has now the support form USA and Europe for its state terror operations in Chechnya and other Muslim nations forcefully incorporated earlier by Russian empire.
Upon killing and silencing the Chechens, Putin also keeps the Russian dream for an empire like the former USSR, alive. As part of his poll campaign he already launched his pet theme Eurasian Union. He is eager to recreate Soviet Union in a different format. The Eurasian Union would be one of Putin's "key priorities" during his next term as president. In a rare and lengthy newspaper piece published on Oct. 4, Putin announced his desire for Russia to again lead a multinational bloc of tightly bound former Soviet republics. But major obstacles stand in the way of Putin's project and the prospects of a new Eurasian Union emerging anytime soon in the former Soviet space are small.
Putin has called for a "Eurasian Union" of former Soviet republics along the lines of the European Union. However, he denied proposing to re-create the Soviet Union, saying a new bloc would have different values. Eurasian Union, Putin says, would be a close integration based on new values and economic and political foundation is a demand of the present time. It would "build on the experience of the European Union and other regional coalitions. Putin said the aim was to "create real conditions to change the geopolitical and geoeconomic configuration of the entire continent and have an undoubtedly positive global effect".
The Kremlin has long called for stronger co-operation between ex-Soviet nations. Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan have already formed an economic alliance that removes customs and other barriers. Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan have said they are studying the possibility of joining the scheme. But earlier attempts at forging closer ties have failed because of sharp economic differences. Many ex-Soviet nations have also looked to the West and have remained suspicious of Moscow's intentions.
A big brother Moscow for the former Soviet republics has not been in good terms with some of the former Soviet states, like Ukraine, Georgia. Natural gas, in particular, became a source of permanent crisis between Russia and Ukraine. No longer interested in subsidizing a state ruled its putative political opponents, Moscow attempted to withdraw longstanding subsidies on gas shipments to Ukraine. With its grossly inefficient and highly energy-intensive economy, Ukraine sought to keep the supplies of cheap gas flowing, and since it controlled virtually all of the transit routes to European markets for Russian gas, it possessed the leverage to resist Russian pressure. As a result, the years between 2005 and 2009 were marked by seemingly inevitable annual "gas wars," in which Russia would demand a hike in rates, Ukraine would turn off the pipes and Europe would shiver as negotiations dragged out.
Putin’s return to the presidency in 2012 signifies a reassessment on the Kremlin’s part of its rapprochement with the White House, and renewed concerns over conflicting interests between the two countries world wide. Both Russia and USA, world's largest nuclear powers with largest conventional weapons arsenals, attach too much importance to influence each others policies but their ties, strained or otherwise, have been a serious concern for the world and humanity.
In order to bully the Americans in its won way, the Kremlin deliberately presented a bipolar opinion about USA in order to purse its global interests, including in USA and EU. Even as Medvedev pursued the “reset” with Washington, Putin continued to make critical statements about US policy.
The past several years, especially since Sept-11 coax, have seen a rapprochement between Moscow and Washington, with Medvedev playing a leading role in what has been called the “reset.” In particular, the two countries have cooperated in Afghanistan, with Russia providing NATO forces with access to key supply routes across Russian territory. Russia has also deepened ties with leading US oil companies, part of its plan to boost oil and gas extraction in the Arctic.
Nonetheless, the two countries remain at odds over a number of critical issues like on nuclear disarmament and Georgia. The war in Libya saw open disagreements between Moscow and Washington over the removal of Libyan President Col. M Qaddafi. Russia’s objections were rooted in concerns over the fate of Russia’s extensive energy interests in Libya, as well as anxiety over the speed with which Col Qaddafi, who had recently reestablished positive relations with the US and other Western powers, was tossed aside and his rule subverted.
Putin and Medvedev themselves publicly split on the matter. In March, differences arose between the two over whether to veto UN resolution 1973 that paved the way for NATO intervention. Putin advocated a veto, while Medvedev, seeking to appease Washington, carried the day with his position that Russia should abstain in the Security Council.
Furthermore, there are ongoing differences between Russia and the US on Syria, Palestine and a host of other matters. The scramble for control over the Arctic, which Russia views as a region key to its geopolitical and economic interests, is also a looming flash point in relations between Moscow and Washington. Furthermore, the US-backed “color revolutions” in Ukraine and Georgia, which saw the substitution of regimes friendly to Moscow with those allied to the US, has not faded from the Russian ruling elites’ memory.
The Cold war is still on albeit in a frozen format!
Even as USA target Moscow for being anti-USA in real terms, an over ambitious Russia is already consolidating its recently formed Customs Union with Belarus and Kazakhstan, which will take effect next year. The intent now seems to be to expand the number of its members and to enlarge its functions and powers.
Anti-Islamic platform which Russia shares with USA, Europe, Israel, India and in fact entire world has kept the Russian regime crisis free at least thus far. Moscow, like all other terrocracies around the world, including USA, India and Israel, employed the terrorism ploy to pursue global interests.