Putin’s war of aggression against Ukraine inadvertently inaugurated a new era in international relations; but not quite the one he expected. The Russian president has achieved a great deal without meaning to while failing to achieve the one goal he had set himself for a place in history worthy of Catherine the Great. The most obvious aspects have been covered extensively in the media, as have the impact, direct and indirect, on the European Union.
NATO is immeasurably strengthened with the discovery of renewed purpose. Anti-Americanism even under an impaired president in the White House now seems like a bad memory. The Germans, even under a less than competent chancellor, have woken up to the corruption of their national interest from the time of Chancellor Gerhard Schröder in forging blind dependence for energy on Russia with Nordstream II. The British, in search of a role after Brexit, eagerly took up Ukraine’s cause, spearheaded by the Ministry of Defence and the intelligence services. As a result even the sinuous French president, Emmanuel Macron, now safely re-elected, has suddenly been alerted to the importance of Britain in Europe. The Nordic countries Sweden and Finland are in a hurry to join NATO.
Russia itself is marooned in total disorientation. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov spouts the kind of anti-semitic filfth unworthy of his position, prompting a verbal apology to Israel from Putin but nothing from Lavrov himself, who apparently believes in the lies he tells; less in the tradition of Molotov than Ribbentrop. Across the West, outcasts spouting Putin’s vulgar rhetoric, Russian diplomats privately hang their heads in shame, berated from Miami by the tanned former Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev. The Russian economy has been dropped into a downward spiral with the prospect of even greater inflation than that hitting the Western world, a Venezuela with an abundance missiles. Russia is at its lowest point morally since the disastrous days of its collusion with Nazi Germany in 1939-41, as its war crimes in Ukraine, like those at Katyn, are exposed for all the world to see.
For the Near Abroad it has been a horrendous embarrassment. Significantly Kazakhstan, because its economic dependence on Russia makes it vulnerable to secondary sanctions, has been trying to find a way out of the hole that Moscow has dumped it in. China’s renewed Silk Route promises a long term alternative to trading with Europe through Russia. For the short run, its president, Tokaev, has made his first official visit to Turkey to forge a political and economic entente. The Turks and the Kazakhs have both openly condemned the war against Ukraine and, although the Turkish economy is in the most awful mess, President Erdogan has by no means given up his long term ambition to place his country at the forefront in the South Caucasus – involving itself in the Azeri-Armenian dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh – and in Central Asia itself.
Disentangling oneself from the Russian embrace is a goal shared equally with China, which suddenly realised from the end of February that perhaps closer relations with Russia to offset US global predominance may not altogether be a blessing but potentially a damaging curse. Turkey, of course, cannot seriously hope to displace China or Russia in the world Kazakhstan inhabits, but it does give the Kazakhs further room to breathe, as Nezavisimaya gazeta fully recognises.
Казахстан в случае угрозы может попросить защиты у Турции
Анкара развивает активную дипломатию в Центральной Азии
Обозреватель отдела политики стран ближнего зарубежья “Независимой газеты”