Good Cop badcop act of Putin and Medvedev

Vladimir Putin left office in  May 2008 succeeded as President of Russia by Dimitry  Medvedev. At first it was  assumed that Medvedev was a place holder for  Putin and would follow his policies   of  looking back at the grandeur of the Czars who had a long  history of controlling nations on Russia’s borders , presenting a strong face to the world and exerting Russia’s influence on the world and in particular Western Europe  by energy policies. Putin also limited dissent inside Russia and surrounded himself with fawning oligarchs. Those oligarchs that were critical were stripped of their wealth and either jailed or exiled.  His economy  depended on oil and gas revenue. Russia’s expansionist policies under Putin included the invasion of Georgia and splintering off a part of Georgia.

 Good CoP Medvedev

Good Cop Medvedev


However Medvedev appeared to be more forward looking and  showed signs of engaging the West in a positive way.  President Obama first  had a meeting with Medvedev in London in 2009.

He seemed open to working with the west on Afghanistan, reduction of nuclear weapons stocks in  Russia, the United States and also around the World. This was particularly true in the case of Iran. Russia voted in the U.N. for tough sanctions against Iran for their quest for a nuclear arsenal.

Also Medvedev was cooperative in allowing the NATO Allies to transport supplies and troops over a Northern route through Russia and its former satellite states into Afghanistan.  This gave us an alternative to the route through volatile Pakistan.

Medvedev acknowledged the growing threat from an Iran with nuclear weapons although Russia had substantial trade interests with Iran and were even helping Iran build a nuclear reactor.  Yet despite theses interests he  sided with the West in asserting sanctions  against  not only  Iran but North Korea.

President Medvedev was interested in broadening the Russian economy beyond commodities and  wanted to create a Silicon Valley like technological complex in Russia. To that end he even visited Silicon Valley.

The Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty was renegotiated and signed under Medvedev.

However Medvedev “decided” not to run for a second term and Putin was elected as President of Russian for a third term . The election was marred by reports of fraud. Demonstrations followed alleging Putin was a thief who stole the election, which Putin suppressed along with media criticism.

Putin declined to attend a G-8 metering at Los Cabos, Mexico and relations turned cool.

The government suppressed NGO’s , dissidents, LBGT people and  began domineering policies toward it’s neighbors. In 2014  it  invaded and annexed Crimea.  It also fomented a crisis in Ukraine when it wanted to sign a trade treaty with  the European Union.

Putin seems to be looking back to the days of the Soviet empire when Russian exerted power over Eastern Europe and Central Asia. He envisions a union of these states to compete with the European Union. His policies include dissuading neighboring states from joining the European Union or NATO. Though the economic and security benefits would be substantial to these states and even to Russia if it could ever be convinced to join.

However Putin has not curtailed our access to Afghanistan by the Northern Route for which the West pays Russia up to one billion a year nor has it gone back on sanctions for Iran and North Korea.

However it supports the regime in Syria and is adamant against missile sites in Europe for protection against Iran.

What Putin’s next move will be is any one’s guess?  However sanctions imposed by the West for his actions in the Crimea and Ukraine have had a deleterious effect on the Russian economy and now that oil prices have dropped to near $70 dollars a barrel , below the $82 a barrel he needs to service debt and sustain the economy, his options internally and externally are extremely limited. Political unrest in Russia because of oil  prices  may limit Putin’s power or even lead to his ouster in the 2018 election if it is a free one. However at this point he still retains his popularity. It appears as if Putin and Medvedev have a good cop bad cop routine going on. It will be interesting to see if Medvedev succeeds Putin in 2018 0r after.

Hillary has a jaundiced eye towards Putin for good reason. He is trying to resurrect a vision of some past glory and is failing to deal with present conditions. Even the United States came to realize that we need the cooperation of other countries to effectively  and favorably stabilize   economic and political conditions.




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