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Third term of Vladimir Putin

Third term of Vladimir Putin
Anton Surikov 08.09.2006

Recently we we published the first part of the talk of the political scientists Ruslan Saidov, Anton Surikov and Vladimir Filin which as it’s proposed would be a basis for their future book with preliminary name: “Escape from the Ruins of the Empire”. This publication, judging from the frequency of the article and a number of comments left though not concrete every time awoke keen interest of the readers. In this connection as the recording of the oral talk of the authors will undergo necessary editorial editing we are planning to continue the theme started. Here we publish an article of the political scientist Anton Surikov prepared on the base of the thoughts expressed by him during the discussion mentioned. Magazine version of an article of Anton Surikov will be issued on the 6th of September on Wednesday in the current issue of “Zavtra”.

Natalya Roeva

Analyzing foreign policy of Russiawhich Vladimir Putin holds for the last 7 years being in power I start with the following. Firstly, for the USAstarting from the 11 of September, 2001 the main foreign policy priority continues to be the Near East. Americans, obviously, stuck in Afghanistanwhere the Talibs making diversions against occupational armies are becoming more active. They also stuck in Iraqwhere the USAhuman losses exceeded 2500 people and the country appeared on the verge of civil war between Sunnitesand Shiites. At last, recent failures of Israelin the south of Lebanoncreated one more center of instability in region.

All this should be considered on a background of not settled Palestinian-Israeli conflict as well as situation around Syriaand Iranwith its nuclear program. At that there’s an impression that Americans simply do not know what they should do with Iranian president Mahmud Ahmadi - Nejadwho cornered them and placed them before a choice: to take off all the claims in nuclear sphere having undersigned for own powerlessness or to begin war which result would be unpredictable.

In any case, having concentrated on the Near East and thus seriously spoiled relations with the countries of "old" Europe, Americans now even in foreseeable prospect do not presume excessive activity in other regions, in particular, in Russia and the CIS. Certainly, the western press and politicians sharply criticize Putin for ostensibly having place intervention in affairs of former Soviet republics and for «infringement of democracy». However this criticism is not transformed to taking practical measures directed against Russiaby the American government.

Another important consequence of instability in the Near Eastbecame unprecedented growth of the world prices for oil. If at the end of 1998 during the time of Clintonadministration the barrel of oil cost 8-9 dollars, now its cost reached 70 dollars. And it’s, probably, not a limit: experts think that in case of war between the USA and Iran and attempts to block tanker navigation in the Strait of Hormuz the price of barrel will exceed 100 and even 150-200 dollars.

Certainly, the reason of a rise of prices is not only in intensity in the Near-Eastern region. High rates of growth of economy of Chinaand Indiademanding more and more oil also played an important role here. However, the policy of Americans, their military activity also bring in it rather essential contribution.

For Russiasuper high prices for raw materials is - a gift of fate. They provide economic growth, raise incomes of population, allow to pay off foreign debts of the state ahead of schedule. As a matter of fact, they are a base, a basis of that internal stability which people of Russiathink to be Vladimir Putin's main merit for today.

At last, one more moment connected to the CIS. In 2003-2005 the policy of Russiaon the postSoviet space was overtaken with failures perceived by authority and society rather painfully. First of all, the question is in orange revolution in Kievwhich took place contrary to active efforts of the Russian leadership to prevent it. It is necessary to mention also color revolutions in Georgia, Adzharjaand Kirghizia, a ridiculous situation with elections in Abkhazia, at last, rebellion in Andizhan.

At the same time, it looks as if the listed failures taught Putin a lot. As a result, to the present moment he could take practically in all directions some kind of revenge. In the Ukraine Victor Janukovich returned to the post of the Prime-Minister and clearly enough would, remaining the supporter of independence, nevertheless, start peaceful negotiations with Russiainstead of arguing with it.

In Belarusannounced by the West beforehand color revolution failed. In the last moment they found the possibility in Abkhazia to find the right decision of the presidential elections, quite satisfactory to Russia. The Kirghizrevolution and Andizhandid not become the beginning of destabilization of Ferganavalley. On the contrary, their obvious results are - radical change of a vector of geopolitical orientation of Uzbekistan, liquidation of the American base Hanabad on its territory, an essential strengthening of the Shanghaiorganization of the cooperation allowing, in its turn, to develop power cooperation of Russiaand the countries of the Central Asiawith Chinamore actively.

At last, though it’s not an international but an internal question, to the present moment, after the death of Shamil Basayev and Abdul-Halim Sadulaev and strengthening of positions of Ramzan Kadyrov, it is possible to speak confidently about successful finishing of the war in the Chechen Republic, about liquidations of the extremely dangerous center of intensity long time holding down Russia in its internal and foreign policy.

As a whole on the eighth year of Putin’s being in power foreign policy positions of the country are strong as never. Due to the prices for oil the Kremlin has a plentitude of money. On perimeter of borders of Russiathe situation is quite stable with the exception of Georgia. But Georgiawith its inadequate president is hardly capable to create for us unsolvable problems without direct support of the USAand the West. But such support in practice, not in words is not being expected in the foreseeable future .

At last, the Kremlin remained normal relations also with the American administration which shows pragmatism and looks for support of Russiaat the solution of problems of «international terrorism», Iranand the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea as well as with new government of Germanywhich came on change to a "friend" of Putin Shreder.

And Putin not running into inappropriate antiamericanism develops in parallel deep connections, including power and military - technical, with China, Venezuela, Iran, Syria, supports relations with movements HAMASand "Hezbollah". That is the foreign policy of Russiahas acquired multivector character, no matter who and how is against it in the West.

There is a question: whether all listed well-being is Vladimir Putin's merit or it’s a pure luck? Certainly, the considerable element of luck is present here. However there’s no eternal luck. And if Putin wouldn’t get lessons, would not get experience in management of the country and its foreign policy, the luck ended long time ago.

Whether Putin's foreign policy course has mistakes? Certainly, there are mistakes. But they bear now especially tactical character in difference to the first years of Putin’s being in power. Then, as we remember, Putin liquidated our bases on Cubaand in Vietnam, supported not only morally and politically the American intrusion into Afghanistan, petitioned for creation of bases of the USAin Central Asia, refused military presence and influence on the Balkans. But all that took place in 2000-2003, there was nothing of the kind after, in the process of accumulation of experience in foreign policy.

And at the same time problems remain. For example, dependence of the Russian economic elite and the officials, subjected to strong corruption, from accounts in foreign banks, property abroad. It makes the top of our society dependent from same Americans who easy manipulate them.

Another problem - economic instability in the long-term plan when the prices for oil can fall and all present stability would vanish together with them. There’s the only way out - gradual refusal of raw orientation of the national economy, the accelerated modernization of a base infrastructure and the forced development of competitive in the internal and world markets branches. But it is impossible to achieve it relying only on market elements and sterilization of monetary weight in the stabilization fund placed mainly in the USA. Here an active role of the state, scale state investments are necessary.

At early stages of his presidency Putin denied the state intervention in economy, explaining it by corruption and inefficiency of a state machinery, considering that all the same «everything will be stolen». However, in his last messages to the Federal Assembly he spoke differently. Moreover, separate steps such as creation of investment fund, etc begin to be undertaken. Apparently, such evolution of point of view of the president will be finished to the year 2008 when he will need to leave.

What will his successor - Medvedev, Sergey Ivanov, Yakunin do? Whether the successor will succeed without losing the rate and stock of historical time in getting to work quickly? It’s hardly possible. Putin spent years for consolidation of authority, for escalating of political weight on international scene and inside the country, for, at last, elementary training and getting of experience of management of the country. Where does the confidence from that in a case with the successor all will be differently.

In any case a change of authority in 2008 will inevitably retard realization of so necessary strategy of modernization up to which the present president, probably, has almost ripened. Foreign policy mistakes will be for certain made. Even because of the fact that the successor, deprived of Putin's "weight", will need to be ratified on international scene.

What can be the results of such attempts, we know from the experience of Gorbachev, Yeltsin and Putin himself. It’s especially actual as in the same 2008 the presidential elections in the USAcan be won by the candidate from the Democratic Party. And this party, as we known, pays more than the Republicans attention to "human rights" in Russiaand the CIS and to other "democratic values”.

Summarizing what was told by way of discussion, I will take a risk to express unpopular, from the point of view of many, opinion – may it be so that the third term of presidency of Vladimir Putin would be not such a bad decision?

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