Former Russian General Leonid Ivashov told Pravda recently that tactical nuclear weapons “should constantly be aimed at the United States.” In my opinion this was no revolution into the psyche of Putin’s government. Of course this line got all the western media outlets buzzing.
My attention, however, was centered on another quote from Ivashov in this interview. Ivashov called for the UN Security council to be expanded to counter the United States. He then went on to say what I think is the focus and legacy of Vladimir Putin’s Presidency/Dictatorship, “The next step is to develop the Euro-Asian continental union, which includes Russia, China, India, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Mongolia within the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.”
Ever since the fall of the Soviet Union Russia has been trying to re-establish herself. Beginning in 1999 the Russian economy would boom solidly for 8 straight years. Most of this boom due in large part from a significant rise in oil prices which is Russia’s primary export.
While Russia quietly regrouped she had to look on as the European Union formed and the United States continued to progress militarily, economically, and in influence around the world.
In 2007 Russia made it clear to the world that their rebuilding phase was over and that they were now capable of influence beyond their own borders. On February 10th 2007 Putin gave his famous Munich Speech while attending the Munich Conference on Security Policy. It was seen as the turning point on Russian foreign policy and a return to Soviet style thinking/aggression.
During the speech Putin went on the offensive heavily critisizing the US and NATO. It was a clear line in the sand and an establishment of “us against them”. Former NATO secretary Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said the speech was “disappointing and not helpful.”
- Putin called to uphold the principle “security for everyone is security for all”.
- Criticized the policies of the United States and NATO.
- Condemned the unipolar model of international relations as flawed and lacking moral basis.
- Condemned the hypocrisy of countries trying to teach democracy to Russia.
- Condemned the domination of hard power and enforcement by the U.S. of the Western norms and laws to other countries bypassing the international law and substituting the United Nations by NATO or the EU.
- Called to stop the militarization of space and questioned the plans to deploy American missile defense in Europe as threatening strategic nuclear balance and spurring a new arms race.
(Watch the speech) http://m.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL73F4FF7DE37F4137
In a decade when we look back at the beginning of Vladimir Putin’s legacy we might start at this February 2007 speech. Eastern Europe and Asia might very well look a whole lot different. A new mega alliance to counter the EU, NATO, and the US. Russia at the head of the new Euro-Asian Continental Union.
Putin and the new Euro-Asian Union
Let’s call a spade a spade. Vladimir Putin is a dictator. Putin and his United Russia Party have effectively been in control of the country since 1999. Who tries to maintain power for over 14 years if not a dictator? Putin has a plan to….and I’ll quote an American polititian…”fundamentally change” the balance of power in the world.
In 1994 at a speech at Moscow University the President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, outlined an idea of his for a Eurasian Union. In a nut shell it was a political and economic union of Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and other post-Soviet states. The idea was based upon the integration of the European Union and a direct counter to NATO, the US, and the EU itself.
The main problem of this idea was that no one was strong enough at the time to implement it. On top of that, a drunk was the head of the Russian state. However, Putin became Prime Minister in 1999 and began to act upon the Kazakhstan President’s idea.
(Phase one is mostly complete)
1. Strengthen the Russian state – after the Soviet fall Russia has been trying to re-establish. Economically they’re there. Socially…still getting there. The problem with tightening your grip is that people, groups, and ideas slip through your fingers. The Russian middle class is gaining strength and influence and they’re sick of the corruption. Look for Putin and United Russia to continue to rig elections, arrest protester’s, and counter with tactics that attempt to bolster nationalism. Ironically, Putin is using the Orthodox Church to rally support. Something he was against during his KGB days.
(Phase two under way)
2. Re-establish Soviet era borders - Soviet era borders served as an effective buffer from outside hostile threats. Countries such as Ukraine, Georgia, Latvia, Romania, Uzbekistan, etc are crucial for shielding mother Russia from foreign invasion. We’re already seeing Russia using it’s exclusive oil and gas supply to these countries to leverage control/influence.
(Phase three framework established)
3. Bolster relationship with Iran - This step is a tricky one and a major focus (under the radar) with most of the world. Russia is heavily invested with this budding relationship with strategic implications both current and long term. Currently Russia needs to support Iranian backed Syria. This both strengthens Russian/Iranian ties and it guarantees the Russian naval base in Tartus.
Without this base Russian warships in that AOR would need to go all the way back through the Turkish straits to the black sea in order to re-supply and maintenance. In the long term Russia see’s Iran as the dominate force in the middle east. Iran is a future nuclear power and is a direct enemy of the US. They oppose the US allies in the region of Israel and Saudi Arabia. It’s an obvious ally.
(Phase four in the next 5 years)
4. Strengthen ties with India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, China - This is the last step and probably the more difficult one to pull off. Pakistan and Afghanistan could be done but India would have to be hard pressed to ally along side Pakistan. Look for Russia to sign significant oil and gas deals in the next 5 years to gain leverage over India. China will be another tough sell. China is a potential rival in the region and the two countries don’t all together trust each other. Look for Russia to support China’s sovereign territorial claims in the South and East China Sea. They’ll publicly put themselves at odds with Japan and in extension the US. Common enemies make common allies.
Thus outlines Putin’s plan and his legacy to Russia. He likely won’t relinquish power until after phase 4 is well under way. Even then he’ll hand over power (on his death bed) to another hand picked United Russia candidate.
As a former Intelligence officer I see multiple ways to attack this. It’s imperative that we encourage nations to not be dependant on Russian oil and gas. Russia uses their energy dominance like figurative nuclear warheads. Rather than threaten their neighbors with military action they can instead starve them of energy. We need to continue to strengthen Israel and maintain close ties with Saudi Arabia. These direct counters to Iran are imperative to keep them choked off. We also need to ensure the Alawite regime in Syria falls and a new non Alawite government moves in. Lebanon would fall next leaving Russia with Iran as their sole middle east ally. Iran would be on an Island in a sense and forced to start over.
We need to strengthen Japan and encourage them to amend their constitution to allow them to build their military. This will be a direct counter to China and one that we won’t have to fight solely. Japan needs to become more of an Asian threat. We need to encourage Chinese/Russian competition to keep their suspicions active and their economic/military cooperation at a minimum.
A speech from the President of Kazakhstan in 1994 planted the seed in a young Vladimir Putin. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization laid the framework.
(Read about the SCO) http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shanghai_Cooperation_Organisation
The Euro-Asian Continental Union is a real threat. It will take clever posturing and foreign relations by the west to head it off.