Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Russia threatens to make itself a regional power

Russia wants to still be considered an international power. That is why Russia keeps doing the kind of things that international powers do, like sticking their noses into conflicts around the world and trying to mediate resolutions of them with other international powers. Most countries don't do that. Gambia, for example, is not trying to negotiate a nuclear deal with Iran. The U.S., the UK, France and Germany (although sometimes the latter two or three through the EU) tend to get involved in distant countries' problems, unlike most countries which only tend to get involved with the problems of their neighbors. In recent years, Russia has been very active on the international stage, acting like a international power and pulling it off too. Russia saved the Obama Administration from backing its way into a war in Syria last year. That's the kind of thing an international power does.

But now Russia is threatening to end its involvement in those international efforts to retaliate for Western sanctions against Russia. If Russia follows through, that will be a big deal. I really do think that Russia contributes a lot to these international efforts. If nothing else, because Russia is coming from a different place and brings a different perspective than the North Americans and Western Europeans who otherwise get involved in these things. But it also will pay a price for Russia. By withdrawing from its cooperation in various international efforts, Russia won't have as much of a claim as being a international power anymore, and the other international powers will have less need for Russia's help. The more marginalized it gets, the easier it will be for the other International powers to crack down on Russia when it does stuff they don't like. Rather than giving an incentive for the U.S. and its allies to lift their sanctions against Russia, Russia is giving them less to lose if they sanction more. That is not a good thing for a country with an already sinking economy.