Left.ru ________________________________________________________________________________
by Vyacheslav Tetyokin
This article originally appeared in Russian in "Sovietskaya Rossia" (Soviet 
Russia) on 10 November 2001. 

President Putin's recent visit to the USA finalised a major turn in Russian 
foreign policy towards full subordination to the West. The symptoms of this 
major turn were evident right from the start of Mr. Putin's term in office. 
One may recall the ratification of the START-2 treaty that might deprive 
Russia of its heavy missiles - the cornerstone of our security. But the 
presidential decisions to support US operation in Afghanistan, and to close 
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 in an 
offhand manner last year reflected a long-matured idea of a far deeper (than 
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. Even at 
the price of sacrificing independent foreign policy. 

For the time being Mr. Putin was just testing the ground. Evidently he was 
waiting for a pretext to make a strategic turn publicly. The terrorist 
attacks in the USA provided such a pretext. The commitment to joint struggle 
against "international terrorism" signaled the move to "the other side". Of 
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 to 
"Putin's Ten blows" against Russia, i.e. destructive 'reforms' of land, 
labour, education, health, housing, the military, energy, transportation and 
other systems. 

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 of 
East European countries including Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia to the 
Alliance. If this happens we shall get NATO air bases close to Moscow, Saint 
Petersburg and other centers of Russia. This is very dangerous. The sad 
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 visit to 
Helsinki were perceived as a go-ahead for NATO membership not only for the 
Baltic States but also for traditionally neutral Finland and Sweden. 


The threat to Russia's security is increasingly felt from the South. And not 
from the Muslim world but from NATO which is penetrating the zones of 
Russia's vital interests in the Balkans (3), in Transcaucasia and in Central 
Asia. But instead of reinforcing our Southern frontiers the Kremlin is 
withdrawing Russian troops from Abkhazia, Adjaria and Transnistria despite 
protests of the population, which is anxious to retain an alliance with 
Russia. There is an impression that the recent fighting in Abkhazia was a 
long-awaited pretext for the Kremlin to speed up its departure from that 
strategically important region. 


Yugoslavia was Russia's only ally in Europe. Mr. Yeltsin contributed to its 
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 to 
friendship with Russia, landed in prison. Power in Belgrade was taken over by 
persons fully dependent on the West, primarily Germany. The present Germany 
achieved what Hitler failed to achieve, i.e. the conquest of Yugoslavia. And 
then the Kremlin declares 'a new stage of relations with Yugoslavia.' Absurd? 
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 allowing 
Israel to play 'the Russian card' against both Arabs and the West, which is 
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 U.S. war 
in Afghanistan. The Americans have gotten the Kremlin's backing for a 
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 US 
retaliatory action is a major foreign policy error as he failed to assess 
even the short-term consequences. It is evident that the Muslim world is 
angrily protesting the US repressions against their brothers and that U.S. 
Western allies are trying to avoid participation in the 'operation' by all 
means. Meanwhile, the main deliveries of drugs into Russia comes not from the 
Taliban but from the 'friendly' Northern Alliance. 


Another major blunder is Mr. Putin's intention to close the Russian Naval 
base in Vietnam and the Electronic Surveillance Center in Cuba. It is 
impossible to think of a bigger gift to the USA. Russian public opinion is 
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 World 
Trade Organization (WTO) which will completely open Russian borders for the 
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 agree 
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 are well 
aware of the pitiful state of the Russian nuclear force. Soon even without 
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 will 
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 well 
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 nearly 
overnight. What has surfaced was Gorbachev's primitive concept of 'common 
human values' - i.e. subordination of Russia's interests to those of the 

Recently Mr. Putin visited Germany and Belgium. We have not seen for a long 
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 framework 
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 into 
the creation of the alliance against "international terrorism," one recalls 
that the Sacred Alliance led to the 1854 Crimean War of Britain, France and 
Turkey against Russia. 

The West readily accepts this no-lose game. The artificial flattery of the 
Russian leader, who staunchly marches into the mousetrap, allows the West to 
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. Of course 
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 the 
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 defined by 
the interests of the Russian oligarchs very closely connected with Western 
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 and 
the opening of Russian air space to the U.S. air force are links in a chain. 
Having handed over the national economy to Mr. Chubais, Hodorkovsky, Fridman 
and Co., one should forget about an independent foreign policy. But the 
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 a 
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 teeth of 
the wolf that has just eaten her grandmother. Mr. Putin's main principle of 
running the State is, "If one mustn't do something but wants it very much 
then he\she can do it". Russia will not travel far on this principle. The 
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 for 
the country's interests. The real hatred that the nation now feels for Mr. 
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 look like 
one. He is far more skillful in playing into the hands of the other side. 

(c) "Sovietskaya Rossia" 2001 * Reprinted for Fair Use Only

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