Putin’s Bluff – courtesy of Stratfor

by Marilou Moursund on September 10, 2013

in Geopolitical,politics

There was a major development in the Syrian conflict yesterday. Russia indicated that they would be willing to help secure the chemical weapons stockpiles in order to avert U.S.

military action in Syria. This offer is seemingly in response to some remarks that Secretary of State Kerry made on Monday. Stratfor contends that this all about Putin’s desire to restore Russia to a global power. From the linked article:

Since 2008, Putin has attempted to create a sense that Russia has returned to its former historic power. It maintains global relations with left-wing powers such as Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia and Cuba. Of course, technically Russia is not left wing, and if it is, it is a weird leftism given its numerous oligarchs who still prosper. And in fact there is little that Russia can do for any of those countries, beyond promising energy investments and weapon transfers that only occasionally materialize. Still, it gives Russia a sense of global power.

In fact, Russia remains a shadow of what the Soviet Union was. Its economy is heavily focused on energy exports and depends on high prices it cannot control. Outside Moscow and St. Petersburg, life remains hard and life expectancy short. Militarily, it cannot possibly match the United States. But at this moment in history, with the United States withdrawing from deep involvement in the Muslim world, and with the Europeans in institutional disarray, it exerts a level of power in excess of its real capacity. The Russians have been playing their own bluff, and this bluff helps domestically by creating a sense that, despite its problems, Russia has returned to greatness.

In this game, taking on and besting the United States at something, regardless of its importance, is critical. The Snowden matter was perfect for the

Russians. Whether they were involved in the Snowden affair from the beginning or entered later is unimportant. It has created two important impressions. The first is that Russia is still capable of wounding the United States — a view held among those who believe the Russians set the affair in motion, and a view quietly and informally encouraged by those who saw this as a Russian intelligence coup even though they publicly and heartily denied it.

http://www.stratfor.com/weekly/syria-america-and-putins-bluff Syria, America and Putin’s Bluff is republished with permission of Stratfor.


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