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What Russia’s game is all about?

Enviado por en 21 diciembre, 2013 – 14:02Sin comentarios



This year was big for Russia. Snowden, Syria, Ukraine – the number of important diplomatic victories has led Forbes to name Putin as most powerful personality of 2013. And maybe the main reason of such victories was the unexpected behavior that showed Russia on all three episodes.

Currently it’s not very difficult to make political forecast on short term. When some politician announce any new measure, we know almost with 100% certainty what would be a reaction of the adversary. For example, if any government announce some labor market reform, we can predict with high level of precision what trade unions would say about it. The same happen to be true for international relations. Based on well-known interests of each country, we may predict what would be a reaction to any given event. In this case, the USA are maybe the most predictable country, since their interests are clear and they do like to split the world into “good guys” and “bad guys”. This essentially has led to their defeat in these three episodes this year – their obviousness.

Russia, by the other hand, was everything but predictable. Everybody in western world thought that Russia would assist Assad by any means. Although it was clear that for Russia Assad was not a friend, in western world diplomats has missed completely the point Russia was trying to explain. Actually, they didn’t missed it, they just didn’t believed in it. It looks like US politicians believed their own mass media, who, far away from trying to reach the real intentions of Russia, did their best de delegitimize this country (a usual habit of most western media and in many cases with good reasons to do it). US closed themselves in their own believes and didn’t handled the situation with open and clear mind. Finally Russia surprised everybody. The decision to work on dismantlement of chemical weapons of Assad just put US on the worst possible position. They were caught by surprise and didn’t know how to react, they didn’t expect this.

The episode with Snowden is also interesting. When Edward Snowden appeared in Moscow airport, everybody thought Russian spies recruited him. Then, when this idea has gone, everybody believed (myself among these) Russia will squeeze this guy for all and every information he has and then turn over to USA. This is why US diplomats were forcing Putin to let him go to US ASAP. McCain was jumping out of his chair stating that Russians has organized al this because “Putin goes out of his way to stick his finger in the eye of America.” But the true is that nobody from Russian secret service has approached Snowden as source of information. Actually, Putin established an obligated silence to Snowden as one of the conditions to stay in Russia. America behaved as hysterical small country while Russia was calm in his greatness.

Ukraine crisis, now fought between Russia and EU, has showed similar pattern. While good number of EU and US politicians was doing everything to intervene in situation (especially through unacceptable on-site support of Maidan by high officials of these two blocks), Russia changed everything with unexpectedly gentle proposal to Ukraine. While EU and US politicians was doing exactly what foreign politicians should not do ever – try to change a political situation in a country by direct involvement, Russia won the game fairly and transparently. Bravo!

The final play of this year were just magisterial. The amnesty to Khodorkovsky was not expected by anybody. As clearly states The Economist, this amnesty was really needed to Putin, no to Khodorkovsky, because actually the term of imprisonment almost has ended and Putin didn’t wanted this guy to exit the prison just like this. Khodorkovsky refused to ask for amnesty for ten long years, but Mr. Putin managed to convince him in the very last months to do that. Now, Putin positioned himself as benevolent leader, who cares even about his enemies. And Khodordkovsky became an old school leader from 90ths – years considered in Russia as the worst period of its history.

So, what’s the game Russia playing. The announcement of Khodorkovsky amnesty was just like new iPhone show up, when Steve Jobs was telling that there is one more thing remaining for the conference, and it’s happen to be the main one… Russia want to surprise, this country try to win by doing unexpected things in the right moment. Would West be able to adapt to this new strategy? Would US understand what are the concessions that Russia would make in order to take advantage into their hands? Or maybe it’s not necessary, since they’ll never achieve the flexibility Russia has. Maybe west should keep being predictable since to play the game Russia plays you need a single decision maker and very confident in his position. This is what Putin has and no other democratic counterparts do. The game Putin can permit himself, no other leader can. What West can do now is only wait, until Russian President will change. And maybe (most probably) Russia will have the same fate as Apple Inc. – still Apple, but not like it was with Steve Jobs…

For the time being, lets enjoy the new and unpredictable geopolitics, which is way more interesting than the cold war confrontation and Yeltsin style drunk management. At least now there’s some strategy on it.


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