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Geopolitics

Shame And Insecurity: Why Russia Is 'Radioactive' After Syria Resolution Veto

Analysis: Russia’s decision to block a resolution condemning Assad regime is both morally repugnant and diplomatically short-sighted. The “river of history” cannot be stopped, and Syrians and the Arab world at large will remember Moscow's stance.

Moscow: Which way to turn? (Boris V)
Moscow: Which way to turn? (Boris V)
Clemens Wergin

This is the chronicle of a political and moral scandal. The brutal quelling of protests in Syria has been going on for 11 months now. According to United Nations estimates, 7,000 people have been killed, most of them victims of Syrian security forces.

Yet despite this, the international community has so far not managed to condemn the regime's extreme violence in unmistakable terms. Even after dramatic last-minute negotiations between US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her Russian counterpart Sergej Lavrov at the Munich Security Conference, the Russians and the Chinese vetoed the latest UN resolution.

When the Arab League makes the UN Security Council look like an irresponsible organization then you know that the so-called new global order is not working. The Russians and the Chinese are damaging the little we have in the way of international mechanisms to resolve conflict. It is a moment of great shame for all those who believe that there are fundamental values shared by the whole of humanity.

It's difficult to understand the reasons underlying the Russian veto that the Chinese – in what seemed like an automatic reflex – were so quick to follow. After all, a compromise had been worked out with the Russian UN delegate in New York that took into account the Russian insistence to not repeat what happened in Libya where a resolution quickly led to a NATO assault.

But apparently Moscow lacked the will to see it through, insisting on more and more requests for changes, leaving the Western and Arab leaders to make only one conclusion: the Russians actually wanted to thwart the resolution.

Putin points

Vladimir Putin may have believed he'd score some points with this stand in his current presidential election campaign, seeing as the Libya resolution has come to be seen in Russia as a mistake. Russians felt deceived by NATO, and the resolution was perceived as a back-handed way of bringing about regime change.

At the Munich Security Conference, one US expert had another, broader interpretation: the Russians use their power of veto in the Security Council as a means of ensuring that they continue to be taken seriously.

Moscow may actually be quite jittery about the anti-authoritarian wave sweeping the planet, and this was meant to send a message to those Russians who have been protesting in the streets against Putin and the alleged fraud in December's parliamentary elections.

But whatever underlies the Kremlin veto, it remains a moral scandal. It's also bad foreign policy. Moscow can only lose, as the outraged protests in the Arab world show.

"You can't stem the river of history," Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu was quoted as saying in Munich. Indeed, it is not a question of if Bashar al-Assad's regime will fall, but when. And how many more dead it's going to cost.

Moscow's stance, meanwhile, will only wind up hindering its chances for positive relations with the new Syria that is being born as we speak. Post-revolutionary governments in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya are also likely to seek distance from Moscow. Russia has become radioactive in the new Middle East. Through no one's fault but its own.

Read the original article in German

Photo - Boris V

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

When Did Putin "Turn" Evil? That's Exactly The Wrong Question

Look back over the past two decades, and you'll see Vladimir Putin has always been the man revealed by the Ukraine invasion, an evil and sinister dictator. The Russian leader just managed to mask it, especially because so many chose to see him as a typically corrupt and greedy strongman who could be bribed or reasoned with.

Putin arrives for a ceremony to accept credentials from 24 foreign ambassadors at the Grand Kremlin Palace on Sept. 20.

Sergiy Gromenko*

-OpEd-

KYIV — The world knows that Vladimir Putin has power, money and mistresses. So why, ask some, wasn't that enough for him? Why did he have to go start another war?

At its heart, this is the wrong question to ask. For Putin, military expansion is not an adrenaline rush to feed into his existing life of luxury. On the contrary, the shedding of blood for the sake of holding power is his modus operandi, while the fruits of greed and corruption like the Putin Palace in Gelendzhik are more like a welcome bonus.

In the last year, we have kept hearing rhetorical questions like “why did Putin start this war at all, didn't he have enough of his own land?” or “he already has Gelendzhik to enjoy, why fight?” This line of thinking has resurfaced after missile strikes on Ukrainian power grids and dams, which was regarded by many as a simple demonstration of terrorism. Such acts are a manifestation of weakness, some ask, so is Putin ready to show himself weak?

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However, you will not arrive at the correct answer if the questions themselves are asked incorrectly. For decades, analysts in Russia, Ukraine, and the West have been under an illusion about the nature of the Russian president's personal dictatorship.

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