Saturday, 15 November 2014

Russia struggles to understand its place in the world

I will be the first to agree that the West (NATO) could have taken measures to avoid the escalation of the present crisis in Ukraine.

When President Obama had visited Russia early in his tenure and expressed the wish to press the relationship reset button this could have been followed up with open dialogue to help Russia find its respectable place in the world's new order of things.

Negotiations could have led to a diplomatic solution for Russia's interest in Crimea.  A Hong Kong type of solution should have been possible whereby Crimea remains Ukraine sovereign territory but it is given out on a long lease to Russia.

The rights of ethnic Russians in Eastern Ukraine could have been safeguarded by a new Ukrainian constitution that gave these regions a high degree of autonomy whilst keeping them under Kiev's tutelage.

Russia could have been offered more time to accept that in a world order where China is the counter-balance to the US in a bi-polar world, Russia and Europe had a common interest in joining forces to make a common front to ensure that their interest is protected and not just become the ham and cheese in a bi-polar sandwich.  Ukraine's wish to  their further their EU membership ambition could have been framed on a long term basis to keep Russia as part of the deal including measures to protect Russia's interest.   Better take longer to reach destination than hurry and meet expensive roadblocks on the way which would still delay or outright deny reaching destination.

Putin however lost it all when he took unilateral illegal action invading and annexing Crimea and taking extreme liberties with Ukraine's eastern border with Russia.

Putin is prejudicing Russia's honest and respectable place in the world.  The Russian people all yearn for democracy.  They yearn for clean honest politicians who protect their interest not those of friendly oligarchs.  They yearn for strong governance, press freedom, and individual civil rights. Russian people do not deserve the sanctions that Putin's macho action has served on them.

Russian people deserve to see their country's natural hydrocarbon wealth being used to develop their economy and diversify it away from total reliance on oil and gas which expose it to economic irrelevance as technological breakthroughs will lead the world towards low carbon energy use.

Russia place in the world is not taking sides with China against the US.   Russia place in the world is in Europe.   Russia could be a major European player making Europe ever more relevant as China continues to grow its weight in a new world order.

Unfortunately its seems that unless Putin presses the reset button in this weekend's G20 meeting in Brisbane Australia, Russia will have to wait a post-Putin era to find its place in the world.

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