by Ethan McLaughlin, contributor
The Gown takes a look at how Putin’s political tactics are impacting Russia and the rest of the world
The recent decision by Putin to leave the G20 summit in Australia to “catch up on some sleep,” is the latest example of how little Putin is prepared to deal with the international world around him when they turn against him.
Whilst Putin continues to strive for a foreign policy based around just hard power and material capabilities, it should not have been surprising to any one with political sense that, at a meeting of world leaders, he would get challenged and receive criticism. But Putin seems to lack that sense any more. The pragmatism of his first regime, which included his effort to work on a reset on Russia-US relationship, seems to have left him. It is also important to note that, according to reports, Putin’s sense of grandeur means he is not going to bother attending the World Economic Forum next year, as well as other meetings.
Putin’s foreign policy has left Russia with no true allies of importance in the international realm. Putin seems to have little to no interest in developing any kind of soft power influences, instead relying purely on economic moves to seem relevant.
Many could argue that Putin has successfully created a Russia/China axis, which has been solidified with a recent gas deal in May demonstrating this close relationship. However, looking into the deal reveals that China, in comparison to the deal signed with Gazpron, signed with many Western European states, saving China $50 per thousand cubic metres. Putin was also forced into committing $55 billion dollars, in comparison to China’s $21 billion. It is pretty easy to see who got the best side of the deal. To this reporter’s knowledge, China has yet to vote against any Security Council resolutions damming Russia for its action and influence in the Ukraine.
But now I want to look at the effect which Putin’s Stalinist ego drive is having domestically. The International Monetary Fund already considers Russia to be in recession, and predicts Russian growth to be 0.2%. With inflation levels currently at around 8.3%, and with the ruble losing 30% of its value, all economic indicators are looking pretty weak. Not to say this would not effect a more stabilised and diverse nation, but Russia has 18 million people living below the poverty line.
Putin seems to have little to no interest in correcting this major domestic issue. Instead, he seems to prefer following a foreign policy which, instead of encouraging and supporting economic growth in all areas of society, severely limits it. This is only going to get worse as Russia’s blacklisted companies, which have had their access to the international money market cut off, will need financing to stay afloat. Whilst the big companies like Gazprom have avoided sanctions because of the consequences such an action would have on Europe domestically, Rosneft (Russia’s second largest oil company) are looking for £25 billion to finance its debts. But Putin and his government are prepared to use the civil service pension funds to help cover this.
If Putin continues on the track of self-centredness, he will surely be leading history to the kind of international isolation that has not been seen by a world power since the Ming dynasty in China. The only difference is that Russia, unlike China at the time, can’t afford it.