Putin Warnes of Global War
Vladimir Putin is basking in Russia’s triumphant return to the world stage.
What began with a land grab in Crimea and escalated with support for the separatists at Donetsk, culminated in Moscow’s dramatic entry into Syria’s protracted civil war.
To be sure, the deplorable (not to mention comically absurd) strategy adopted by the US and its regional allies in Syria set Putin up for success. The situation was highly exploitable by anyone that’s strategically minded and thanks to the convoluted set of alliances Washington has built with groups that later turned out to be extremists, Moscow gets to achieve its regional ambitions while simultaneously fighting terrorism. Meanwhile, Washington, Riyadh, Ankara, and Doha are left to look on helplessly as their Sunni extremist proxy armies are devastated by the Russian air force. The Kremlin knows there’s little chance that the West and its allies will step in to directly support the rebels – the optics around that would quickly turn into a PR nightmare.
All of this has provided the perfect backdrop for Putin to begin what’s amounted to a lecture tour on how to conduct foreign policy.
Soundbites have ranged from very serious commentary on why the West should not employ extremists to bring about regime change to comical jabs at the US and its allies who the Russian President last week accused of having “oatmeal brains” when it comes to Mid-East policy.
Speaking today at the International Valdai Discussion Club’s 12th annual meeting in Sochi, Putin delivered a sweeping critique of military strategy and foreign policy touching on everything from the erroneous labeling of some extremists as “moderates” to the futility of nuclear war.