One of my regular readers from the Ukraine asked me a question about Putin: “So where has he led the country by 2016?”The implication of course was that he led Russia to low oil prices and a cheap ruble.




It seemed to me that my response could be interesting, not only for the person who asked the question. That’s why I tried to briefly express my own attitude towards the situation we’re in.


What does Russia have by 2016?


First, let’s talk about the Crimea.


The Southern borders are effectively shielded. We are the lords of the Black Sea. The USA cannot threaten us, upsetting the naval balance of power, taking the Ukraine into NATO and replacing our fleet in Sevastopol with its own. It’s hard to imagine what economic sanctions compensate for this new feeling of safety for us.


The Crimea alone would be enough to answer the question.


But there are bases in the Mediterranean Sea now. Not just the naval base, but also the air force. The US, together with Russia, took the joint decision to settle the situation in Syria. Putin forced a joint handling of the problem in the Middle East where we also have interests.


This means not just ISIS or a gas pipeline from Qatar to Europe. We are interested in the UN regaining its former status as the only pole in the world, and its hegemon, instead of the US, Russia or China.


The confrontation in Syria cannot be solved by ‘international coalitions’ formed other than by the UN Security Council. Russia and the US are the co-chairs of the International Syrian Support Group. And unlike the various coalitions, this group does not aim at overthrowing Assad: its documents specify that the future of the country will be decided by the Syrian people. As it should be.


This means that the world has already been redesigned, becoming a much safer place to live in, and this happened with the personal participation of Putin.   


Ukraine cannot appreciate this progress: you are concerned with the price of oil that varies day by day. The Crimea and the bases in Syria will remain ours – with or without high oil prices. You need to learn that states don’t live for the day. They have long-term interests and goals which sometimes can only be reached by solving problems. Taking into consideration today’s interests and goals, the problems are by no means catastrophic.


Russia is not the Ukraine, that thinks it’s enough to troll us with a bill to rename Russia as Moscovy to raise its self-esteem and believe they haven’t spent the day for nothing. But no matter how many power transmission lines you have blown up, no matter how long you have blocked the market for your own manufacturers of agricultural products – the Crimea will never return to you.


So far the Ukraine is a day-by-day state. It cannot think in terms of eternity (every state plans to exist forever, by any means) or even for decades to come. That is why you ask your strange question, which is incomprehensible for us: “Where has he led the country by 2016?”


I’ll tell you where: to Russia having fewer problems in 2016 – that’s where.


Pavel Shipilin




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