The Economist: West should learn from Putin how to achieve success

Five years ago, Vladimir Putin was isolated, but today he returned to the world stage thanks to the conflict in the Middle East, the strengthening of the alliance with China and the strife among the NATO allies. According to The Economist, the West needs a powerful foreign policy to fight the new strong man in the world, so Vladimir Putin has a lot to learn from.

When Vladimir Putin arrived in Brisbane for a G20 meeting five years ago, he was isolated: Western leaders drove Russia out of the G7 and imposed sanctions. However, according to The Economist, today he returned to the world stage, and this was helped by the conflict in the Middle East, the strategic alliance with China and the discord between the NATO allies.

According to the publication, it was Putin’s residence in Sochi, and not the mansion of the US president in Florida, who was visited by Turkish President Erdogan to decide the fate of Syria. The meeting with Erdogan consolidated Russia’s dominant position in the Middle East, especially after the conclusion of the agreement on joint military control over Kurdish territory. Earlier this month, Putin was hosted by the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, the world’s third largest oil producer. Now Russia, which is the second largest oil producer in the world, is in a better position to influence production and prices.

In addition, Vladimir Putin has established close relations with China. Putin has promised to help China build its early-warning system, and this deal could turn China’s global balance of power.

Europe’s attitude toward Russia is also changing due to the growing influence of Putin in the Middle East and his closer ties with China. French President Emmanuel Macron argues that Russia is too important to be debited, and that it must be included in the architecture of European security.

According to the author of the article, “a country with an economy the size of Spain, corruption along with Papua New Guinea and life expectancy below Libya” managed to achieve all this thanks to military modernization. For 20 years, Vladimir Putin has transformed the Russian armed forces from “a poorly managed group of poorly equipped draftees into a heavily armed, predominantly professional military force”.

“Barack Obama established red lines against the use of chemical weapons in Syria, but was not ready to use force to support them. Earlier this month, Trump left the American Kurdish allies, withdrawing his troops when Turkey threatened to invade northern Syria. Putin noted that the West’s reluctance to use weapons created a power vacuum. Faced with Russian aggression, the West decides to retreat”, – the author writes.

According to him, in the place of Trump or Macron, Putin would not have made such a mistake. He would not give up his positions and would look for weaknesses that could be exploited.

“He wants the West to cancel the sanctions and agree with his plan to remain in power for an indefinite period. But the West should not encourage his adventurism. It would be better to learn – selectively – from Mr. Putin: to support your allies, to play on your strengths, not to bend under pressure and not to create a vacuum that can be filled by a rival force. The West needs a powerful foreign policy to fight a new strong man in the world”, – The Economist concludes.

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