Putin’s activism towards a larger role for Russia in world affairs

Western intelligence, for all the money that they spend, could not forecast that President Putin of Russia would “invade” Syria and quickly win plaudits for his decisive aerial attacks on the ISIS militant camps and supply depots within a week.

The United States spent hundreds of millions of dollars on training the Syrian rebels, carried out innumerable attacks on ISIS sites in Syria and Iraq, convinced allies such as the U.K., the UAE, France, Australia and Canada to join the bombing efforts, and kept pushing for the removal of President Assad of Syria. But all that humongous efforts have paid little returns, while President Putin somehow seems to have stolen the thunder.

In fact, Russia has done so well that countries like Iraq are now thinking of inviting Russian involvement in eliminating the ISIS. That would surely be a red flag for the Americans and the British. Iran can almost be considered as a friend of Russia, so it should be happy about the quick actions taken by Russia in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia is keeping quiet for the moment.

President Obama was obviously caught unawares because the Russian attacks started just 48 hours after the meeting he held with President Putin on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly proceedings. Putin gives no notice and takes no prisoners either. His muscular response to the intractable ISIS problem should prove one point – that it is indeed possible to take out the ISIS if a strongman like Putin makes all the decisions. He is proving that point as every day goes by.

The Middle East has become a mess, with multiple struggles in various stages – the ongoing battle between Israel and Palestine is a case in point. There are many other challenges in the Middle East. Russia seems to be asserting that it is a global power that every nation has to contend with ultimately. May be President Putin has everything figured out already. May be he is betting that oil prices would go up due to the fierce battles in Syria and Iraq. And, that would feed directly into the coffers of Russia, and help reduce the pains of economic misery caused by Western sanctions.

I believe Russia does need to play a larger role in world affairs, and provide a reasonable counterbalance to Western powers. I only hope that Russia would not bring down the world economy, which is in a fragile status as of now.

If Russia indeed wins the battle against the ISIS, that would enormously boost the pride of the Russian people and the world image of Russia. That would of course, necessitate Russia playing the global political games in an even handed manner. Russia would need sage advice in this regard, and where else it can come from ? From the West, of course. There are some powerful voices (like Presidential candidate, Donald Trump) in the U.S., who are supporting what President Putin is doing in Syria now.

Welcome to a new world order !


Vijay Srinivasan

11th October 2015


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