9. STUCK IN THE USSR

Over the last decade, the Russian foreign policy has actually
been the mere continuation of the Soviet foreign policy.


COMMENTARY: Kirill Rogov, deputy editor-in-chief
Kommersant, Moscow, Russia, Monday, Dec 26, 2005

It’s been a custom since the 1990s that the Russian foreign policy has been
dominated by friendships with the rogue nations whose affairs are either bad
or hopeless. What emotional effort we put into shielding Slobodan Milosevic
from the foreign invasion! We have almost made ourselves believe that
there’s no one in the whole world closer to us than Serbs, and when the NATO

was dropping bombs on them, we spoke with one accord: they are bombing us.

When it became clear that the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein is in for great
trouble, we immediately recalled our traditional ties with Iraq and our
economic interest there. We tried to convince the world that we would make
Saddam back down by negotiations, and tried to convince Saddam that we
were able to prevent the invasion.

It is totally impossible to understand why we were trying to back up Eduard
Shevarnadze when his power was falling apart like a house of cards since
shortly before it, we had been threatening him with pre-emptive missile
strikes.

Once the knot of the Middle East politics got firmly tied around Syria, we
stepped in acting as the best friend of Syrians. We were trying to convince
everyone again that we could be efficient mediators and could talk Syria
into meeting some demands of the United States. We suggested trade-offs
for the both again in a hope to kill two birds with one shot. Syria,
however, doubted our abilities like North Korea did unwilling to use our
mediations. Iran seemingly sneezed at our “saving” initiatives too.

Curiously enough, the nations and regimes that we are regularly defending in
vain don’t feel any gratitude towards us. They view our stance as ambiguous
and unsafe. The model where Russia first vehemently shields a country
oppressed by the United States and later backpedals at the eleventh hour
choosing a neutrality for some bonuses in the Russia-U.S. relations has been
knows since the Soviet times, since the first war in the Persian Gulf.

This is the root of the problem, I guess. Over the last decade, the Russian
foreign policy has actually been the mere continuation of the Soviet foreign
policy of its sunset time. The policy’s first stage full of decisive
condemnations of the U.S. dictates resembles the policy of the
missile-crammed menacing USSR in the Brezhnev époque.

The second stage of the silent compromise with “the American aggressor” is
in essence the policy of the weakening tiger of the Gorbachev disarmament.
This is the policy of the decrepit empire eager to trade its former fetishes
for lucrative contracts.

The diplomatic thought in the Kremlin and in Smolenskaya Square has been
stubbornly following this plain pattern for ten years. The banner of our
diplomacy reads: “Formerly, there was the USSR here without which not a
single issue was resolved.”

Pretending to be a global player we are losing a game the moment we start
it. Maybe, it’s time to give up the fidelity to the foreign policy of the
non-existent country? -30-


LINK: http://www.kommersant.com/page.asp?id=638635

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