Finland, Ukraine and a new “ Moscow Peace Treaty”?
Recently, more and more publications have appeared in the Ukrainian media comparing the current Russian invasion and the forgotten Soviet-Finnish war of 1939-40. Recall that then Stalin wanted to move the border away from Leningrad, secure sea approaches to the city, and ideally create a Soviet republic in Finland. In the harsh winter, the Russians had to break through the fortified “Mannerheim Line” in the forehead, since the Red Army could not get to the rear of the Finns along the narrow forest roads. The war ended with the “Moscow Peace Treaty” – Stalin received all the territories he wanted, but Finland remained independent and after a year and a half, Finland, together with Hitler, attacked the USSR.
Comparison of two wars, of course, it cannot be the same. No one fled from Finland, the population rose to defend the country. In addition, the Finnish army did not fall into the “cauldrons”. However, there are indeed two surprising similarities. Firstly, both the Finns and the Ukrainians hoped for the allies, but they did not send troops. Secondly, the Finns (who had a fortified line covering the direct road to their capital) and Ukrainians (who still have, but are already running out of an extremely combat-ready group in the Donbass) understood well that they could not win the war. At the same time, although Moscow put pressure on Helsinki 80 years ago and on Kyiv now, it offered quite sane conditions so as not to start a war. Although in both cases the Kremlin has placed its interests above international law. Nevertheless, Moscow’s position can be understood, because it cared about national security and acted as an aggressor out of desperation.
However, in the Ukrainian media, they constantly mention not so much the course of hostilities itself (in its own way, more successful for the Finns than for the Ukrainians), but the “Moscow Peace Treaty“, which ended the war. However, the Finns, due to their resistance, managed to save the army, and if they had gone to negotiations a little earlier, perhaps now the border between Finland and the Russian Federation would have passed a little to the east, in favor of Finland. The President of Ukraine, Mr. Zelensky, has already stated “we are fighting for where the new border will pass,” although his representatives are not even ready to recognize Crimea and the independence of the Luhansk and Donetsk regions. However, it is obvious that the planned defeat of the Donetsk group and the lack of direct support from NATO will make them more compliant. However, due to the international situation, Stalin was in a hurry then, just like Putin is now.
Such historical comparisons in the media associated with the Mr. Zelensky team are not accidental. Ukrainian media continue to speak about the “terrible defeats” of the Russians, however they are happening further and further in the depths of Ukrainian territory. Like the Finns 80 years ago, Mr. Zelensky wants to wear down the Russians and save as much as possible, knowing that Putin needs to complete the operation quickly.
Ideally, the current Ukrainian authorities would also like to declare defeat as a victory. For this, they are ready to pay an absolutely unacceptable price in the form of their military and civilians. Moreover, the best Ukrainian soldiers, the flower of the army and the national guard, who are ready to defend the independence of Ukraine at the call of their hearts, are dying in hostilities. However, in reality, the only question is when Ukraine will become part of the new “Moscow Peace Treaty” and what its conditions will be. And most importantly, how will Ukrainians and their partners perceive it, many of whom, thanks to the media, are sure that most of the Russian army no longer exists!
Maybe that is why Mr. Zelensky does not withdraw the Donetsk group from the hoop of the Russian army. However, the reality, as history teaches us, is harsh. As the days of war go by, the Russian army will increasingly start using more destructive weapons. Thus, the military and civilian casualties in Ukraine will be incomparably greater. We have seen all that in Syria. That is why peace negotiations, while respecting the Russian red lines, would be the best solution for everyone. There are already positive indications of this, given that Germany is showing good will to mediate peace. That is why, if a new “Moscow Peace Treaty“ is signed in the near future, with the mediation of Germany, no one should be surprised.
Geopolitical Changes and the Significance of Russia’s New Foreign Policy Concept
Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed an order to endorse Russia’s updated foreign policy concept which was complied and presented by the Ministry of Foreign of Affairs. The new concept was updated to incorporate additional measures and redefine parameters of necessary actions, especially against consistent the United States, Western and European confrontation and determine important roles in the emerging multipolar world by the Russian Federation.
Putin explained, at a meeting with permanent members of the Russian Security Council on March 31, the need for a major adjustment of key strategic planning documents, including the foreign policy concept, on the basis of drastic changes on the world stage.
“The Foreign Ministry, acting in collaboration with the presidential administration, the office of the Security Council, the government and numerous ministries and agencies, has done extensive, thorough work to update and harmonize the concept with current geopolitical realities. This is a balanced document that will serve as a basis for our practical actions in the mid-term and more distant future.” Putin said in his introductory remarks.
In a concized speech during the meeting, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov emphasized that the new concept takes into the provisions of the National Security Strategy, which was approved by in 2021. It also notes a high degree of continuity with the previous edition of 2016 in terms of the fundamental principles of our foreign policy, primarily its independence and focus on creating favorable external conditions for the progressive development of Russia, ensuring its security and improving the well-being of Russian citizens.
“The logic of the document reflects the changing geopolitical realities, in fact, revolutionary advances on the outer contour, which have received a visible acceleration with the start of a special military operation,” Lavrov told the meeting.
He, however, added: “In particular, the unprecedented level of international tension over the past decade is stated. The existential nature of threats to the security and development of our country, created by the actions of unfriendly states, is recognized. The main initiator and conductor of the anti-Russian line is directly named the United States of America, and in general, the policy of the West, aimed at the all-round weakening of Russia, is characterized as a hybrid war of a new type.”
The main long-term trends in international development are characterized, including the crisis of economic globalization, which until recently was carried out according to American rules. One of the factors is that the world economy is undergoing a major restructuring and is moving to a new technological basis. The redistribution of development potential in favor of new centers of growth leads to the formation of a multipolar world order, and this is a key trend in international relations at the present stage.
“We set out in the concept our vision of the principles of a more balanced and fair world order. Among them are polycentricity, sovereign equality of states, ensuring their right to choose development models, upholding the cultural and civilizational diversity of the world. Assistance in the establishment of a multipolar world order is defined as a framework task for all areas of foreign policy,” he said.
Emphasis is placed on the need to ensure the rule of law in international relations. It is proclaimed that the progressive development of international law must take into account the realities of today’s world. In the face of acute external threats, there is readiness to observe the principle of the indivisibility of security is confirmed, but only in relation to those states and their associations that show reciprocity in this matter.
The approach to work in the UN focuses on increasing the effectiveness of this organization, on reaffirming the fundamental goals and principles of its Charter, which the West is trying to undermine in its practical actions. Important innovations are enshrined in terms of the conditions for the use of force in self-defense within the framework of unconditional adherence to the relevant requirements of Article 51 of the UN Charter.
The concept provides for the possibility of taking symmetrical and asymmetric measures in response to unfriendly actions against Russia. The thesis is introduced about the use of the Armed Forces to repel or prevent an armed attack on Russia and its allies. Thus, Russia unequivocally declare to defend the right of the Russian people to existence and free development.
The provisions that affect the protection of Russian traditional spiritual and moral values, building cooperation based on a single spiritual and moral landmark, common to all world religions, are revealed. Absolute rejection of neo-colonial practices and any kind of hegemonism.
According to Lavrov, “among the undoubted priorities are ensuring the rights of our citizens and organizations abroad, providing support to compatriots, countering Russophobia, strengthening the position of the Russian language in the world, fighting for historical truth, protecting our culture, depoliticizing sports, and establishing new forms of sports cooperation.”
In the regional section of the concept, there is an emphasis on Russia’s strategic interests in the context of deepening Eurasian integration based on the Union State of Russia and Belarus, the Eurasian Economic Union, the Collective Security Treaty Organization, the CIS, the formation of a large Eurasian partnership, and the further strengthening of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and BRICS.
As the most important resource, the course towards unlocking the potential of strategic partnership with our great neighbors – the People’s Republic of China, the Republic of India, the countries of the Islamic world, as well as with the states of ASEAN, the African continent, Latin America and the Caribbean is being fixed.
Lavrov concluded that “the commitment to a peaceful solution of all problems that arise in the Arctic region is confirmed. The provisions of the concept assume that the anti-Russian steps of unfriendly states will be consistently and, if necessary, severely suppressed.
On March 31, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation published on its website the text (in English, Spanish, and French) of the Concept of the Foreign Policy of the Russian Federation, approved by Presidential Executive Order No. 229 of March 31, 2023.
The 42-page document consists of six sections and a total of 76 paragraphs. The previous version of the concept was adopted in November 2016. Here are a few important aspects including the strategic goals, major objectives and priority areas of the new policy which principally based on the constitution of the Russian Federation.
Russia’s place in the world is determined by its significant resources in all areas of living, its status of a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, participant in the leading intergovernmental organizations and associations, one of the two largest nuclear powers, and the successor (continuing legal personality) of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR).
Russia pursues an independent and multi-vector foreign policy driven by its national interests and the awareness of its special responsibility for maintaining peace and security at the global and regional levels.
Russian foreign policy is peaceful, open, predictable, consistent, and pragmatic and is based on the respect for universally recognized principles and norms of international law and the desire for equitable international cooperation in order to solve common problems and promote common interests.
Russia’s attitude towards other states and interstate associations is contingent on the constructive, neutral or unfriendly character of their policies with respect to the Russian Federation.
With the major trends and prospects for development, Russia will play its role as one of the leading centres of development in the modern world. It plans to maintain strategic stability, strengthen international peace and security; and to strengthen the legal foundations of international relations and to shape an equitable and sustainable world order.
One of its priorities is to deepen integration processes and seek mutually beneficial comprehensive cooperation system based on combined CIS and EAEU, and the states of the Central Asian region.
Russia aims at further strengthening the comprehensive partnership and the strategic cooperation with Asian and Pacific States including, first and foremost, People’s Republic of China, the Republic of India. Further, it will fortify relations with the States in the Middle East and North Africa, based on combining the capacities of all the states and interstate alliances of the regions, including the League of Arab States and the Gulf Cooperation Council.
The new concept also says Russia stands in solidarity with the African states in their desire for a more equitable polycentric world and elimination of social and economic inequality, which is growing due to the sophisticated neo-colonial policies of some developed states towards Africa.
The Russian Federation intends to support further the establishment of Africa as a distinctive and influential centre of world development. Its priority here is Russian-African cooperation in various spheres on a bilateral and multilateral basis, primarily within the framework of the African Union and the Russia-Africa Partnership Forum.
In Latin America and the Caribbean, given the progressive strengthening of the sovereignty and multifaceted potential of Latin American and Caribbean states, the Russian Federation intends to develop relations with them on a pragmatic, de ideologized and mutually beneficial basis, giving priority attention to supporting interested Latin American states under pressure from the United States and its allies in securing sovereignty and independence.
It places emphasis on multifaceted mutually beneficial partnership with the Federative Republic of Brazil, the Republic of Cuba, the Republic of Nicaragua, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, developing relations with other Latin American states, taking into account the degree of independence and constructiveness of their policy towards the Russian Federation.
Most European states pursue an aggressive policy toward Russia aimed at creating threats to the security and sovereignty of the Russian Federation, gaining unilateral economic advantages, undermining domestic political stability and eroding traditional Russian spiritual and moral values, and creating obstacles to Russia’s cooperation with allies and partners. In this connection, the Russian Federation intends to consistently defend its national interests in the European Union.
Russia’s course towards the U.S. has a combined character, taking into account the role of this state as one of the influential sovereign centres of world development and at the same time the main inspirer, organizer and executor of the aggressive anti-Russian policy of the collective West, the source of major risks to the security of the Russian Federation, international peace, a balanced, equitable and progressive development of humanity.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation develops a general strategy of the foreign policy of the Russian Federation and presents relevant proposals to the President of the Russian Federation, implements the foreign policy course, coordinates the activities of federal executive bodies in the area of international relations and international cooperation, and coordinates international relations of the subjects of the Russian Federation.
Putin’s Grand Strategy: The Eurasian Union and its Discontents -Book Review
S. Fredrick Starr and Savante E. Cornell, the co-authors of the book, “Putin’s Grand Strategy: Eurasian Union and its Discontents” are well recognized political scientists. Fredrick Starr is the founding Chairman of Central Asia-Caucasus Institute and Silk Road Studies Program Joint Center, and a Research Professor at the John Hopkins University-SAIS. Savante E. Cornell is the Director of Central Asia-Caucasus Institute and Silk Road Studies Program Joint Center, and a co-founder of the institute for Security and Development Policy, as well as Associate Research Professor at Johns Hopkins University’s Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies. The central theme of the book is Putin’s grand strategy to reintegrate erstwhile Soviet Republics and its potential implications for the neighboring states, as well as for China, European Union and last but not the least for the United States of America.
Author articulates that the revival of Russia began after Putin appeared as the President-elect of Russian Federation. Putin put forward its grand strategy that aimed to restore the Russian sovereignty and geographical integrity. Invasion on Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine and the most recent annexation of Crimea all reveal the single-minded focus of Putin in materializing his dream of resurrecting Russian empire. Historical evidences reveal that once an empire (like Roman Empire, Ottoman Empire) collapsed it could never resurrect itself with the sole exception of former Tsarist territories under Soviet rule. Putin considers the reintegration of erstwhile Soviet Republics as the process supported by history itself and he viewed himself as history’s helper. However, it is evident that history in not in favor of Mr. Putin and he can avoid failure only by maintaining paramount military force or by relying on entirely new tactics. Mr. Putin came up with extreme seriousness to co-ordinate different sort of tactics in broader range of sphere so as to provide maximum support for materialization of his grand strategy. This grand strategy is highly centralized in Putin’s own office and he has staked his all in the realization of his “Grand National Dream”.
Author stipulates that Putin’s grand strategy is basically aimed to reintegrate (politico-economically) former Soviet territories and to reestablish Russia’s privileged sphere of influence, and for this purpose Eurasian Economic Union and Customs Union were introduced. According to Russian political scientist, Egor Kholmogorov, “Russians are inherently imperialists” and, thus, both Yeltsin and Putin aimed to establish a neo-imperial bloc under the supervision of Russia. Russia considers itself an autonomous sovereign actor, unshackled by any political association and exercising unfettered power in its own domain. Although Russia regards the Sovereignty and territorial integrity of its erstwhile republics, it still reserves the right to define the extent of that sovereignty and integrity. Thus, Russia deliberately inculcates instability and insecurity in the region to maximize its sphere of influence. Russia aims to be recognized as a pole in multi-polar world and hence, Putin’s grand strategy is entirely geopolitical in its essence. The CST and CSTO were established with the aim to provide collective security system to the neighboring states, but these organizations never participated in any conflict in and around Central Asia. Author puts in that, “Moscow appears to be an insecurity provider, rather than security provider in the region”.
Author looks deeper into Putin’s integration drive and deduces that it is based on ideology and pragmatic considerations. Moscow initially established a Commonwealth of Independent States that facilitated a civilized divorce among the member states, but with the passage of time, this organization proved ineffective in implementing any of its designed policies and thus failed. After CIS, Central Asian states along with Russia established Eurasian Economic Community with the aim to achieve large scale economic integration by reducing multiple trade barriers among the member states, but it also proved to be an ineffective drive like CIS. Later on, in 2011, Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus established Common Economic Space to deeply integrate their economies. All these integration drives were aimed to re-Sovietize the erstwhile Soviet Republics by extending the Moscow’s privileged sphere of influence. Moscow also viewed the integration drive as agent for diluting China’s rising influence in Central Asia. For Moscow, former Soviet Republics are an easy target for reintegration because of its historic politico-economic and cultural proximity with these states.
Author now takes into account the creation of Collective Security Treaty and articulates that, it was established with the aim to regulate just and fair distribution of assets besides providing collective security to member states. However, Russia never intended to establish any alliance with the aim to underpin any commitment regarding collective security system. Russia only wanted the CSTO to be recognized by international community as an equal and legitimate partner of NATO. Hence, CSTO never participated in any conflict, neither in Central Asia, nor in Caucasus and just maintained an umbrella structure having a mirage of collective security system, and never came into existence in reality. Russia at not a single point, succeeded in using CSTO to undermine the Western encroachments in the region. Thus, it can be ascertained that the crystal clear and irreducible weakness of CSTO, indicates a deep loophole in the grand integration project devised by Mr. Putin.
Author now takes into account the economic dimension of Customs Union and Eurasian Union and articulates that, “In theory, Customs Union may or may not improve on the pre-union situation”, while on practical grounds, Customs Union that relies on protected internal market is incompatible with modern global economy. An ideal Customs Union (European Customs Union) as per the author is the one that promotes trade creation and retards trade diversion, and is thus, welfare increasing in nature. A Customs Union is more likely to fail when it promotes trade diversion, instead of trade creation and involves those states that are out of world’s leading economies, and it is more likely to succeed, when it abolishes external trade barriers and promotes deeper market integration. Customs Union established by former Soviet states failed to achieve the desired objectives, due to mounting negative economic effects on member states. Besides economic integration, Customs Union of Vladimir Putin is evidently a geopolitical struggle through which Russia wants to reinstall its hegemony over erstwhile Soviet republics.
Author now takes into account the different strategies harnessed by Putin to propel its reintegration dream. Mr. Putin deftly employed these instruments in a shifting manner to confuse and render ineffective any foreign counter strategy. One of the most effective instruments used by Putin is the control and manipulation of information disseminating from Russian media. Another vital instrument in Putin’s toolkit is the subversion through co-option that involves the deliberate weakening of statehood and installation of pro-Russian forces across the erstwhile Soviet territories. This strategy of subversion ranges from feeding opposition politicians to deeper penetration in government institutions, and to violent campaigns involving bombings and assassinations. Besides these, Moscow also supports opposition forces (as in case of Georgia in 2008), extremists and civil society in propelling Putin’s grand scheme. Besides installing civil society organizations in advancing its grand strategy, Kremlin also financed far-right extremist parties in West to advance its agenda. In addition to these tactics, Putin also reserves the right to use economic warfare (in case of Armenia) against its neighbors to regulate their outlook vis-a-vis Eurasian integration project. Finally, Russia uses another tactic of exploiting unresolved ethnic conflicts (as in the case of Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Nagorno-Karabakh and Transnistria). Moscow deftly utilizes all these instruments to propel its reintegration drive and to halt the advancement of West and China in Europe and East respectively.
Vladimir Putin declared the dismemberment of Soviet Union as the greatest “geopolitical disaster of the 20th century”. To resurrect the Russian privileged sphere of influence, Putin came up with grand project of Eurasian integration to integrate former soviet territories. In response to Putin’s integration plan, states responded in different ways. Kazakhstan and Belarus appreciated the project of Eurasian Customs Union but suggested Putin to restrict the focus of ECU to economic issues. Similarly, in Kazakhstan and Belarus public opinion polls showed that majority of people were in favor of the membership of Eurasian Customs Union. Russia enjoys multiple levers of Belarus and Kazakhstan to pressurize them for their support in Eurasian integration project. However, both these states in future may rethink of their commitment to Putin’s grand Eurasian Customs Union project.
Author now takes into account Armenian response to Putin’s Eurasian Union project and entails that Armenia instead of Joining EU, joined Russia-led CIS and CSTO as pre-requisite for Russian political and security support, particularly over the issue of Nagorno-Karabakh. Russia enjoys levers over Armenia due to Armenia’s heavy reliance on Russian energy supplies. To maintain its influence over Armenia, Russia often threatened Armenia to debar its exports, and to deport large amount of Armenian labors working in Russia, that would ultimately devastate Armenian economy. Thus, under Russian pressure, Armenia suspended the negotiations on Association Agreement with EU, and in reality has lost its ability to act out of Russian influence. In sum, being used as an instrument in the hands of Russia, Armenia may lead to regional destabilization. Kyrgyzstan initially stayed away from any Russian-led integration project, and maintained close ties with the West to rebuild its economy. However, it began to adopt multi-vector foreign policy in the mid-90s, with pro-Western stance relaxed. Tajikistan is considered to be more dependent on Russia than Kyrgyzstan, and both states in a joint agreement agreed to extend Russian military bases in Armenia till 2042.
Membership of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan in Customs Union is although beneficial for both states, but it would pose harm to both states, particularly in terms of higher inflation and living cost. Author declares Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan as among the states most vulnerable to Russian levers. Similarly, owing to tense relations with Large neighbor Uzbekistan, both states view Russia as a security guarantor against potential aggressor. However, Russian influence in the region has been neutralized to some extent by China’s recent engagements in the region. Thus, author concludes that, “Russia no more has monopoly on wielding cultural, economic and political influence in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.”
Author turns towards Ukraine and articulates that throughout its independence, it has considered itself as a European state, and distinguishes itself from proverbial ‘elder brother’, Russia in lacking a Eurasian ideology. Thus, Ukraine stayed away from any Russian-led integration project in the region from last two decades, and it seems that Ukraine has closed its door for Eurasian Union. Author now analyzes the potential role of European Union in the Eastern Partnership project and articulates that, despite recent economic problems EU remains ‘a major magnet for trade, investment as well as labor migrants from many parts of the World.’ European Union is contemplated as largest trading partner for Georgia and Moldova. The advantage of ECU over EU is that Georgian and Moldovan products are well known in ECU member countries, and require less marketing and promotional efforts. From last couple of decades, Georgian political elite supported European integration as it would maintain their sovereignty and independence from foreign influence. Although, Russia retains significant leverage over both Georgia and Moldova, due to their respective unresolved conflicts, it lost its leverage over Georgia due to Georgia’s participation in strategic energy transit projects and its shift to Azerbaijani oil and gas, and thus has liberated Georgia from Russian sphere of influence. However, due to its historic Soviet legacy, Russia still retains economic leverage over Moldova, and has consistently used its economic Muscle to keep Moldova away from European Union.
Author now takes into account the case study of Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan has been among the countries most reluctant to Russian-led integration project, since its independence. Numerous analysts stipulate that Azerbaijani membership to Customs Union would be an ‘economic and political suicide’ for country. Thus over the period of time, Azerbaijan maintained its non-aligned posture and kept itself away from any integration project. Although, Russia still retains a significant leverage over Azerbaijan, it has not utilized it due to policy of non-alignment of Azerbaijan against both the EU and ECU. Besides Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan have been skeptical of Russian geopolitical project over the period of time. Uzbekistan was central politico-economic hub of Central Asia during Soviet times, while Turkmenistan was out of any significant political role. Russia has certain levers over both these states that it can use to pressurize both these states, as it can cutoff the bilateral trade with Uzbekistan and has also began to use ‘water and energy card’ against both these states. Turkmenistan denied joining any Russian-led integration drive, as country’s founding documents have maintained its non-aligned posture. Thus, if any or both of these countries are forced to integrate into Eurasian Union, it will unleash powerful destabilizing forces throughout the region.
Author articulates that over past decade, Central Asia has been dominated by two regional powers- Russia and China. With the rising Chinese influence in the region, it appeared that both these countries would become arch rivals, as their interests would clash at certain points, however, with the passage of time, both these states identified areas of mutual co-operation. Both these states have come to know that they share certain interests across the globe, and thus have to accept the presence of each other in the region. Russia also acknowledges its inability to compete with rising china’s economic power. Thus, for the time being, both these states have been able to find co-operational, rather than confrontational approaches to the Central Asian region. However, rising China’s influence is undoubtedly a serious challenge in the way of Putin’s grand strategy and it can only be dealt by maintaining strong political ties with Central Asian states and by strengthening its influence in security and military. China does not intend to pose any harm to any Russian-led integration drive until it does not challenge China’s interests. Although, Moscow is considered to be dominant politico-cultural and military power in the region, the rising economic might of China would further make Russia to retreat its place for China in the region.
Author now compares the European Union led Eastern Partnership and Russian-led Eurasian Union. When EU put forward its Eastern Partnership, Russia considered it as an attempt to establish ‘a sphere of influence’. Although Moscow was traditionally less concerned about European Union, however, Moscow no longer saw the EU as a soft politics actor, but as a force threatening Russian sphere of influence. Author identifies a fundamental ideological incompatibility between EU-led Eastern Partnership project and Moscow-led Eurasian Union. European Union in its Eastern Partnership constitutes a set of rules that are considered to be a moral threat to imperial ambitions that lie at the heart of Putin’s grand strategy. In addition to it, while EU offers “more for more”, Russia offers states that if they did not succumb to its strategy, it would tear their country apart. Thus, in order to undermine Russian reintegration drive, EU will have to come up with hard power response backed by US-led NATO, along with the strategy to counteract his manipulation of frozen conflicts.
Finally, author turn towards American response to Eurasian Union project, and articulates that America largely considered the Russian-led Eurasian project as mere an economic arrangement entered into sovereign states by their own will. Thus, United States of America neither envisaged the basic intentions behind the project, nor did it devise any counter strategy, as a result its response to Putin-led Eurasian Union largely remains out of focus. America believed that post-Soviet Russia would be a partner rather than an adversary. Thus, America maintained its policy of ignorance, when Russia directed other states to seek prior-approval from Moscow before entering into any arrangements with Washington, and during its invasion on Georgia in 2008. However, Obama administration propelled ‘Reset policy’ to dissuade any further adventure of Moscow. Moscow wanted America to recognize its ‘privileged sphere of influence’ that America denied at every instance, but Moscow drew inference from Washington’s actions rather than its rhetoric. However, it can be inferred that in response to Putin, US would remain on the sideline, either because its policy of sanctions will ultimately succeed in the end, or US lacks the resources to double down on Russia.
In sum, authors have tremendously explained the re-integration scheme of Vladimir Putin, and the response of post-Soviet states to this project. Authors rightly established that United States of America has failed to contain Russia from taking foreign encroachments in achieving its dream. Moreover, authors have brilliantly analyzed the case study of every state vis-à-vis Putin’s grand strategy and potential consequences of the states’ behavior towards the grand strategy. However, authors could not maintain an impartial analysis throughout the book which is contemplated as a primary pre-requisite for any academician. In addition to it, authors could not provide logical reasoning behind their speculation that “Putin’s grand strategy would be an ultimate failure in the end.”
S. Fredrick Starr& Savante E. Cornell, Putin’s Grand Strategy: The Eurasian Union and its Discontents, (Central Asia-Caucasus Institute Silk Road Studies Program, 2014), 210.
Don’t listen to the naysayers, the ICC’s arrest warrant for Putin is a game changer
The International Criminal Court’s decision to issue an arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin is a game changer. The wheels of justice are turning, and not in Putin’s favour.
This comes as the ICC issued an arrest warrant for Putin last week, accusing him of responsibility for illegally transferring Ukrainian children to Russia, which is a war crime. A warrant was also issued for Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova, Russia’s commissioner for children’s rights.
The Ukrainian government welcomed the decision. Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba reacted to the warrant by stating that the “wheels of Justice are turning: I applaud the ICC decision to issue arrest warrants for Vladimir Putin and Maria Lvova-Belova” and that “international criminals will be held accountable for stealing children and other international crimes.”
Both Putin and Lvova-Belova have been accused of forcefully transferring thousands of Ukrainian children across the border to Russia.
The Ukrainian government claims 16,226 children – ranging from infants to teenagers – have been deported to Russia, while others estimate a figure closer to 400,000.
It’s reported this is part of a large-scale, systematic attempt at adopting and ‘re-educating’ thousands of Ukrainian children in at least 40 camps throughout Russia.
Kubela has labelled Russia’s actions as “probably the largest forced deportation in modern history” and a “genocidal crime”.
Russian officials have been surprisingly open about the transfer of children, unapologetically claiming it is part of a humanitarian project designed to re-home orphaned Ukrainian children.
The ICC investigators clearly disagree.
Commentators and legal experts have pointed out that the court has no powers to enforce its own warrants and that – because Russia is not a party to the court – it is also incredibly unlikely Putin will find himself in The Hague.
While these observations are probably correct, they ignore the broader implications of the court’s decision.
Putin is the first world leader to have a warrant issued for his arrest since former Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir was issued a warrant by the court in 2009.
Like Al-Bashir, Putin is unlikely to be arrested outside of Russia.
But symbolism is important. It signals to despots around the world that they cannot commit heinous crimes with impunity.
It’s also important for Ukrainians, validating their suffering by having their abuser named and shamed.
The warrant also sets the scene for a larger investigation into crimes committed in Ukraine by Putin’s regime.
Yesterday, the Prosecutor General of Ukraine Kostin Andriy signed an agreement with the court to establish an ICC country office in Ukraine.
This is a signal that the court intends to investigate other alleged war crimes committed in Ukraine.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has claimed Russia has committed over 400 war crimes in the Kherson region alone.
Mass graves have also been discovered outside the towns of Bucha and Izium, with 400 and 450 bodies found respectively. Russia has been accused of murdering and murdering these people.
There have also been several documented attacks on civilian infrastructure by Russian forces, including the now infamous airstrikes on a theatre and maternity hospital in Mariupol.
Greater collaboration between Ukrainian war crimes investigators and the court will likely result in more crimes being documented and more charges laid against Putin and his officials.
The decision by the ICC also isolates Putin at a time when he is searching for allies around the world.
Last year, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov went on a diplomatic spree across Africa to build support for the invasion in the region. This includes trips to Libya, Mali, Sudan, the Central African Republic and Mozambique.
Russia has also leant heavily on ‘BRICS’ countries, an informal bloc of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
The problem for Putin is that any country that has signed up to the 1998 Rome Statute of the ICC must arrest him if he enters their country.
In what is a case of sublime timing, Putin is scheduled to meet with his BRICS counterparts in South Africa – which is a signatory to the statute – in August.
A spokesman for South African President Cyril Ramaphosa admitted the government faces a dilemma, stating that “we are, as the government, cognisant of our legal obligation”.
The government of Brazil echoed similar sentiments. This week, the Minister of Foreign Affars Mauro Vieira said that Putin could be arrested if he entered the country. Another unnamed government official warned that “anyone who goes to a country that is a member of the ICC can have problems, I have no doubt about that.”
Even if South Africa falls foul of its legal obligations – like it did by not arresting Al-Bashir in 2015 – it still represents a two-fold problem for Putin. He will be hesitant to travel abroad for fear of arrest, and his so-called allies will be hesitant to visit Russia to avoid associating themselves with a wanted war criminal.
The seriousness of the situation for Putin’s regime can be seen in their response.
Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev responded to the arrest warrant threatening any attempt to arrest Putin would be a “declaration of war” and suggested Russia could fire missiles at the ICC headquarters in The Hague.
The Speaker of the Russian Duma Vyacheslav Volodin claimed the arrest warrant was more evidence of western “hysteria” and that “we regard any attacks on the President of the Russian Federation as aggression against our country.”
The bluster coming out of Moscow suggests the regime was surprised by the decision.
It is an acknowledgement that – overnight – the situation changed for Putin, and not for the better.
If Putin wasn’t a global pariah before, he certainly is now.
There are 123 countries he will fear travelling to and his regime – whether found guilty or not – will be forever tainted with the deaths of thousands of innocent men, women and children.
With both Ukraine and the European Union planning to establish tribunals to prosecute Russian war crimes, the pressure will only continue to build on Putin’s regime.
Will Putin ever find himself in The Hague? It is unlikely. History shows it is hard to arrest and convict heads of state.
But – just like the late Slobodan Milošević – leaders can often find themselves in places they least expect.
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