Muhammad Ali Baig
The ex-KGB Intelligence Officer, a retired Lieutenant Colonel and former Director of Federal Security Service of Russia (FSB) is currently serving as the 4th President of Russian Federation. For many Western politicians and analysts, Vladimir Putin has been a dictator and a totalitarian ruler. But the opinion of common Russian people is quite different from that. After President Boris Yeltsin, Putin became the 2nd President of Russia and from May 2000 until now it is very much evident that Russia has perhaps again moved towards the status of a global power.
The disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991 brought Russia into the abyss of darkness and humiliation. It was a huge success for the NATO and the Western bloc that the Cold War resulted in their desired logical results. It was perceived by many that now the world will be at peace. Even an American political scientist named as Francis Fukuyama presented his thesis “End of History” and predicted that the world has achieved eternal peace. But another American named as Samuel Huntington’s “Clash of Civilisations” was a theoretical response towards Fukuyama’s thesis.
Putin has practically proved both of them wrong by adopting the standards of “Realpolitik” as a guiding principle in his foreign policy decisions. It seems pretty obvious that John Mearsheimer’s article titled as “Why We Will Soon Miss the Cold War” was right in his approach that the Cold War was the longest peace period in the history. Putin’s decision to annex Crimea in 2014 exhibits his motivation to restore Russian pride and identity in the world. The alignment of Putin with Iran and Venezuela can be taken as an example. The ongoing Syrian Crisis clearly shows that Putin is not going to step back and no decision can take place without taking Russian interests into account.
Putin realises the importance of Turkey and he is moving towards it. The shot down of Russian air plane by Turkish Air Force was a serious incident but Turkish rightist government is steadily moving away from the Western influence after the failed coup in July this year. The Indian activities in the South China Sea are hurting the interests of Russia and China and Vladimir Putin seems disappointed about the growing relations of India with the US and the West. This has resulted in an increased importance of Pakistan in the eyes of Russia.
Putin who was not much in favour of Pakistan due to its leading role against the Soviet Union has now realised the determination of Islamabad to eradicate terrorism. Russian policies are changing towards Pakistan and there was a time when they refused their jet engine RD-93 to be used on JF-17 Thunder aircraft. Now they are also willing to offer their latest gunship helicopters to Pakistan. Moscow and Islamabad are destined to be together and the changing world order will bring them more closer. Putin has shown interest in the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and it will benefit Moscow as well.
Steven Lee Myers; a journalist at New York Times, published his book “The New Tsar” (2015) in which he has made serious criticism on Putin and his inner circle. Perhaps realpolitik is the only viable guiding principle in the foreign policy decision making of any state and Putin and his policies are no exemption.
— The writer is freelance columnist based in Islamabad.