|PUTIN'S TEN BLOWS
by Vyacheslav Tetyokin
This article originally appeared in Russian in "Sovietskaya Rossia"
Russia) on 10 November 2001.
President Putin's recent visit to the USA finalised a major turn in
foreign policy towards full subordination to the West. The symptoms
major turn were evident right from the start of Mr. Putin's term in
One may recall the ratification of the START-2 treaty that might deprive
Russia of its heavy missiles - the cornerstone of our security. But
presidential decisions to support US operation in Afghanistan, and
Russian bases in Vietnam and Cuba made the sharp turn in the Kremlin's
foreign policy evident.
It becomes clear that the intention to join NATO expressed by Mr. Putin
offhand manner last year reflected a long-matured idea of a far deeper
in Mr. Gorbachev's or Mr. Yeltsin's case) "integration into the world
community". It fact the intention is to squeeze Russia into the Western
economic, political and military system. Even as a junior partner.
the price of sacrificing independent foreign policy.
For the time being Mr. Putin was just testing the ground. Evidently
waiting for a pretext to make a strategic turn publicly. The terrorist
attacks in the USA provided such a pretext. The commitment to joint
against "international terrorism" signaled the move to "the other side".
course the Kremlin will deny even the idea that they have dropped an
independent foreign policy. But their actions speak to the contrary.
A recent statement by a group of public and political figures referred
"Putin's Ten blows" against Russia, i.e. destructive 'reforms' of land,
labour, education, health, housing, the military, energy, transportation
Now one can talk of 'Putin's ten blows' against Russia's international
The main threat to Russia's security originates not from 'international
terrorism' but from NATO expansion to the East. (1)
The November, 2002 NATO summit in Prague will obviously admit a number
East European countries including Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia to
Alliance. If this happens we shall get NATO air bases close to Moscow,
Petersburg and other centers of Russia. This is very dangerous. The
experience of Yugoslavia confirms that quite convincingly. (2)
But the Kremlin does not even show signs of real opposition to NATO
expansion. More than that, Mr. Putin's statements during his recent
Helsinki were perceived as a go-ahead for NATO membership not only
Baltic States but also for traditionally neutral Finland and Sweden.
The threat to Russia's security is increasingly felt from the South.
from the Muslim world but from NATO which is penetrating the zones
Russia's vital interests in the Balkans (3), in Transcaucasia and in
Asia. But instead of reinforcing our Southern frontiers the Kremlin
withdrawing Russian troops from Abkhazia, Adjaria and Transnistria
protests of the population, which is anxious to retain an alliance
Russia. There is an impression that the recent fighting in Abkhazia
long-awaited pretext for the Kremlin to speed up its departure from
strategically important region.
Yugoslavia was Russia's only ally in Europe. Mr. Yeltsin contributed
defeat by refusing to supply anti-aircraft weapons. Mr. Putin refused
Yugoslavia political and economic support by cutting gas supplies right
before the 2000 presidential elections. (4) Slobodan Milosevic, committed
friendship with Russia, landed in prison. Power in Belgrade was taken
persons fully dependent on the West, primarily Germany. The present
achieved what Hitler failed to achieve, i.e. the conquest of Yugoslavia.
then the Kremlin declares 'a new stage of relations with Yugoslavia.'
No. It reflects a strategy aimed at Russia's withdrawal from the Balkans.
In the Middle East the Kremlin's inconsistent policy in the Arab-Israel
conflict pushes further away traditionally friendly Arab countries
Israel to play 'the Russian card' against both Arabs and the West,
no longer prepared to unconditionally support Israel.
Opening Russian air space for the U.S. Air force and supplying intelligence
information, as well as the silent agreement to allow recruitment of
mercenaries in Russia, means the Kremlin is directly involved in the
in Afghanistan. The Americans have gotten the Kremlin's backing for
permanent U.S. presence in Central Asia - that is, in the zone of Russia's
vital interests. Russia is being encircled by U.S. military bases.
The premature and unconditional support by the Russian president of
retaliatory action is a major foreign policy error as he failed to
even the short-term consequences. It is evident that the Muslim world
angrily protesting the US repressions against their brothers and that
Western allies are trying to avoid participation in the 'operation'
means. Meanwhile, the main deliveries of drugs into Russia comes not
Taliban but from the 'friendly' Northern Alliance.
SIXTH AND SEVENTH BLOWS
Another major blunder is Mr. Putin's intention to close the Russian
base in Vietnam and the Electronic Surveillance Center in Cuba. It
impossible to think of a bigger gift to the USA. Russian public opinion
shocked. The damage to Russia's interests is so great that even the
pro-presidential newspapers find it quite difficult to explain these
Let's add Mr. Putin's nearly religious desire to get Russia into the
Trade Organization (WTO) which will completely open Russian borders
expansion of powerful Western capital and will totally eliminate Russian
industry and agriculture already only half alive as a result of 'reforms'
started by Yeltsin and continued by Putin. (5)
There is no doubt that sooner or later the Kremlin will stop resisting
'modification' of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, i.e. will simply
to creation of this Star Wars system. Naive attempts to get a simultaneous
reduction of U.S. nuclear warheads will lead nowhere. U.S. leaders
aware of the pitiful state of the Russian nuclear force. Soon even
any treaty Russia will not be able to have more than 1.5 thousand warheads.
Why should the US reduce its nuclear arsenal if the Russian arsenal
collapse by itself?
Russian-Chinese relations will inevitably be spoiled as Russia previously
promised China to take a firm position on NATO and ABMT. China is obviously
watching with deep concern Russia's surrendering of these positions
as the appearance of the U.S. Air Force close to its borders in Uzbekistan,
Tajikistan and Kyrgyz. One does not easily forget such things.
Everything that Mr. Putin has earned by spectacular improvement of relations
with China, India, Vietnam, Cuba and some other countries collapsed
overnight. What has surfaced was Gorbachev's primitive concept of 'common
human values' - i.e. subordination of Russia's interests to those of
Recently Mr. Putin visited Germany and Belgium. We have not seen for
time such an overt desire to please the West. It was a vintage Gorbachev
like 1989 when he surrendered everything to the applause of Mrs. Thatcher.
The humiliating desire of the current host of the Kremlin to get the
acceptance of the West has become completely shameful. (6)
We have not yet returned to the 19th century Sacred Alliance in the
of which the Emperor Alexander I put the interests of European monarchies
above those of Russia. But when the head of the Russian State plunges
the creation of the alliance against "international terrorism," one
that the Sacred Alliance led to the 1854 Crimean War of Britain, France
Turkey against Russia.
The West readily accepts this no-lose game. The artificial flattery
Russian leader, who staunchly marches into the mousetrap, allows the
solve strategic tasks without spending an extra penny, without endangering
the lives of their soldiers.
Furthermore the flow of money from Russia to Western banks continues
non-stop, softening the effects of the economic crisis in the West.
And what does Russia get in return? Nothing. The Kremlin seems to enjoy
demonstrating a selflessness that confuses even cynical pro-presidential
But it doesn't smell of selflessness. It smells of a secret agenda that
obviously corresponds to Mr. Putin's long-term personal interests.
he has started thinking about the 2004 presidential elections. A favourable
attitude by the West will be beneficial??¦
So what is behind the radical changes in Russian foreign policy? Nothing
special. Mr. Putin has simply thrown away the veil of statements about
protection of Russian national interests. His policy acquires a clearly
expressed class character. Pragmatism, the defense of some 'national
interests' that Mr. Putin likes to talk about at press conferences
- this is
just for fools. In fact we are observing a clear shift to a policy
the interests of the Russian oligarchs very closely connected with
transnationals and completely dependent on their Western counterparts.
If one can privatize whole branches of industry why can't one privatize
foreign policy? The Land Code allowing the sale of lands to foreigners
the opening of Russian air space to the U.S. air force are links in
Having handed over the national economy to Mr. Chubais, Hodorkovsky,
and Co., one should forget about an independent foreign policy. But
Kremlin hardly thinks about that. The outer expressions of independence
(receiving a red-carpet reception, and so on) are sufficient.
Russian public opinion is clearly reluctant to recognize the West as
friend. But the Kremlin behaves like a girl in a fairy tale who, with
wonderful persistence, fails to see the sharp ears and even sharper
the wolf that has just eaten her grandmother. Mr. Putin's main principle
running the State is, "If one mustn't do something but wants it very
then he\she can do it". Russia will not travel far on this principle.
president should better recall the plight of his predecessor, Mr. Gorbachev,
who at the top of his popularity did what he wanted without any regard
the country's interests. The real hatred that the nation now feels
Gorbachev should at least make Mr. Putin think a bit.
They say that in his youth Mr. Putin was a judo expert. He does not
one. He is far more skillful in playing into the hands of the other
(c) "Sovietskaya Rossia" 2001 * Reprinted for Fair Use Only