How Ukraine Destroyed the Myth of Russian Power

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Jan Techau writes:  No matter how the crisis engulfing Ukraine plays out, it has already produced one result that is probably more important than anything else: it has destroyed the myth of Russian strength.

Over the past decade, Russian President Vladimir Putin has tried to convince both the world and his fellow countrymen that Russia is a resurgent great power. He was aided by an unmatched talent for tactical maneuvering, a relatively stable oil price, and a West bogged down by distracting wars and economic woes.

Putin pulled off a war in Georgia, created a Eurasian customs area to rival the European Union, duped the West on Syria, cunningly played former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, and then torpedoed Ukraine’s signing of a trade and association agreement with the EU. He did all this with resolve, shamelessness, and chutzpah.

And so the world started to believe that there was substance behind the posturing. European and U.S. nostalgists were only too eager to embark on a new Ostpolitik, based on the assumption that Russia was too powerful to deal with through regular diplomacy. Forbes magazine named Vladimir Putin the most powerful man in the world in 2013. And the Economist, as recently as February 1, announced “the triumph of Vladimir Putin.”

The few voices that tried to remind observers that none of this had much substance were not listened to. Audiences remained skeptical when they were told that Russia was actually a power in decline, equipped with the capacity to wreak havoc but not the ability to shape the world. Some liked to hear it because they disliked Russia, but almost all in the West continued to assign almost limitless power to the Kremlin.

But now Russia’s bluff has been called. It is not yet clear what lasting impact the sudden downfall of former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych will have in the region. But what is already clear is that the myth of Russian power has been thoroughly shredded. The heroic people of Ukraine’s Euromaidan protest movement, helped unwittingly by the EU and some eleventh-hour U.S. diplomacy, revealed Moscow’s real power status….

 

Read the rest…

RealClearWorld


One Comment on “How Ukraine Destroyed the Myth of Russian Power”

  1. It is too soon and very naive to make comments like this.
    You forget that the cost of this “stunning victory” may yet the the destruction of a country thrown into economic ruin. You ignore that most of their trade was with Russia and that now looks uncertain.

    You skip over the fact that about a third of the population SUPPORT Russia.
    What if they ask Russia to annex their particular slice of the country. Who’s going to stop them?
    If Russia decides to “liberate” the citizens who want to be part of Russia, this could conceivable become the start of WW3 as the West does it’s usual trick of meddling where it wasn’t wanted.
    What then, US boots on the ground peacekeeping?
    After all the US have already raised tensions to Cold war era levels AGAIN.

    The EU are already wondering how they are going to pay for the mess they engineered and this transition is still fragile. With the US and EU meddling it will end up VERY expensive to all of Europe or even the world.

    Consider if Russia short term turned off ALL oil and gas to the West. OK LNG is being shipped round the world BUT restricted supply equals price hikes.
    The stunning victory could just lead to other countries sinking as fuel costs rise.

    Russia and Putin are not entities that back down. It’s not in their nature.
    If presented correctly to the Russian people it could be seen as a DIRECT ATTACK on part of their Motherland.
    After all this could be the trigger Putin wanted to allow him to really flex his muscles.

    Ultimately was it a good thing to happen?
    Freedom has a price tag not only in the fallen but for many years to come.

    It’s not over till the fat lady sings. The world should remember that!


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