What will be Putin’s next move?
By Muhammad Ali Baig
Will Putin strike again or will he rest and let Trump “Make America Great Again”? Who could have imagined the creation of Abkhazia and South Ossetia? Who knew that Putin will take away Crimea from Ukraine? No one thought that Putin alone will halt the US-led invasion of Syria and circumvented the removal of Assad Regime with authority. And now Putin is warning Trump about any military adventure against Kim Jong Un.
Importantly, why have Sweden and Lithuania imposed the military draft isn’t it Putin? These questions, although they reflect different situations with different connotations, have a pattern of behaviour. There are a few people who are bestowed with a natural tendency and will to restore and clean-up the mess; President Putin is a perfect example.
Almost 17 years ago, under the leadership of President Boris Yeltsin, Russia was drowning and even the government was not able to pay the monthly salaries of its employees. It was Putin who resurrected Russia and brought it back again on the stature of a great power.
People may criticize him for his policies internally and externally and especially for supporting the brutal Assad Regime, but no one can deny the fact that Putin alone has turned the tide of international politics and put an end to the perceived unipolar world and not in favour of a bi-polar one; but a multi-polar one.
Trump’s strike on Syria in April is a clear precedent that Putin has successfully dragged America into the Syrian debacle. Now Trump would not be in a position to concentrate his efforts on internal matters (as it was his election manifesto) in its pursuit of ‘Make America Great Again’.
Apparently, Putin alone defeated America on almost every front. The testimonies of FBI and NSA confirming the hacking of 2016 American Presidential Elections reveal the skill and prowess of Putin flanked by his determination and Russian strategic culture.
It is understandable that Putin alone has forced the US and NATO to go back a little but there is still a huge amount of work that needs to be done. Putin is an unpredictably wise man and like Stalin’s Winter War against Finland in 1940, Putin will wage a war against the Scandinavians and the Baltic Region as he did to Ukraine and Georgia. Unfortunately, war has always been the decisive factor in international relations and a defining element in the fate of the nations.
War may sound bad or be an ugly aspect of the state to state relationship but its inherent attribute of ‘make or break’ and ‘win or lose’ makes it a permanent subject of politics and history. It is important to scrutinize the actions of Putin from the perspective of international relations while remaining above ethnic, regional and even religious connotations. Putin had missed the opportunity to save the Libyan dictator Gaddafi. Had he acted in the same manner with Gaddafi as he is acting now to save Assad, Putin would have
1. i) more influence in the Middle East,
2. ii) have another foreign ally,
iii) The entire Middle East would have been more stable, and
1. vi) Islamic State would have been deprived of Libyan fighters. Putin’s pre-emptive and preventive attempt to save Gaddafi could have saved numerous precious lives.
It is a fact that President Vladimir Putin has asserted himself in such a forceful manner that he has altered the ostensible unipolar world order into a multi-polar one. Journalists like Steven Lee Myers authored a book by the title ‘The New Tsar’ (2014) and compared Putin’s policies and personality with the historically brutal rulers of Tsarist Russia. Myers may call Putin a ‘Tsar’ but the Russian President’s determination and concentration has turned the tide of international politics. In 2016 Forbes magazine declared him to be the most powerful man in the world.
Putin’s audacious actions in Syria makes one thing clear; he has bigger aims with broad objectives and envisages a bigger share in world politics. Putin’s conquest of Crimea was not merely an acquisition of a piece of land but his action had its roots in its history. Russia can put an end to the ongoing Civil War in Ukraine by calming down the Russian speaking population but Putin is adamant to punish Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko for his leanings towards NATO and the West.
According to The Atlantic a renowned political magazine, Sweden and Lithuania have again imposed military conscription to meet the arising defence and security needs. The people of Sweden are now more inclined towards joining NATO due to the perceived Russian threat. Foreign Policy magazine published an article in May 2014, urging neutral Sweden and Finland to join NATO. Putin’s annexation of Crimea has brought alarms in Scandinavia but it remains uncertain whether he is going to strike and in what exact manner.
The writer is a freelance columnist based in Islamabad and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
‘Courtesy Daily Times’.