Is Putin off his meds?
Achievements for Mr Putin so far…
- Capital flight, shares nosediving and restricted access to bond markets
- All Russia’s neighbours tooling up
- International condemnation and sanctions
- An expensive Crimea to support
- A shot in the arm for a post Afghanistan NATO
- Renewed interest in alternatives to Russian gas, including supplies from the US
So he has restored some measure of battered Russian pride, showed the West to be a bit weak and ineffectual and by sticking two fingers up at the west shored up his power base but the problem with feeding the nationalism bear is it has to keep being fed, that costs money and is highly risky.
If international norms of respect for national boundaries are to be maintained the problem for the West is to demonstrate to Russia that it cares more about Ukraine than Russia does, I don’t think there is any resolve whatsoever to make Ukraine a test of willpower or wallets but there is a crucial difference between Ukraine and the Baltic states, NATO.
He has shown the West up, no doubt about that, we have all witnessed the empty rhetoric and loud talking with small sticks but that has no doubt changed the mood, defence budgets are under focus, more may well be the result, not less.
Whilst Putin has shown a willingness to bully the neighbours, use gas as a lever and generally play the card of the great leader all he has actually done is strengthened the hand of the West and weakened the long term economic prospects of Russia at a time when it was hardly a beacon of growth.
Anyone have any predictions for the next week, month and year?