In recent years, the West has often watched with fists clenched in its pockets as Putin benefited from America’s strategic overstrain. The sites on which he has used the retreat or restraint of the dominant West for his own action stretch from Venezuela to Myanmar.
The biggest trophy he could seize in this turf war was Syria. Putin has gained access to a key state in the Middle East and has become a decisive player in a conflict that transcends the region. Assad has made himself dependent on Russia, so he must regularly bow before his master in Moscow.
However, this example also shows that such winnings are not free. Putin has long since achieved his main goal of stabilizing the Assad dictatorship. Nevertheless, he must continue to wage war for his vassal in Idlib, and because of this (as in Libya) he has problems with Turkey, which Putin would otherwise be willing to consider as a partner. All this costs money and political capital.
Since Russia is not a democracy, the public does not demand an account of Putin in such cases. But at some point he too will have to ask himself the question of how much more he wants to invest in such operations. Afghanistan, in which the West has now declared itself defeated, in any case has already once become an unbearable task for Moscow.
By: Nicholas Busse, columnist for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
Without the right to reprint. © Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung GmbH, Frankfurt am Main.
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