Friday, November 20, 2015

Paris Attack : Russia and the Changing World Dynamics

The ‘Paris Attack’ has come at a very interesting time. Some of the international games are changing as the world’s strategic atmosphere seems to be in a flux. There is open talk about the ‘great American failure’ in the decade long war against the terror menace while a neo-assertive Russian President Putin seems to be the new flavor of the season.
Russia has experienced a drastic loss of soft power in recent years but everyone still seems to believe Moscow more than Washington when it comes to fighting terrorism. 

The debate is – how serious is the threat of terrorism – especially unleashed by the Islamic forces – and whether the threat is compelling enough to inspire a global response.

Russian military crew with SU-34 jet fighter
In five or 10 years’ time you would be certainly reading another blog piece or even a book – from experts – much like this one but written in a more lucid manner. The only difference will be that hundreds if not thousands more would die by then.

Thus November 2015 after bravado again similar to 2001, the Americans have developed some kind of cold feet about the neo-global war on terrorism. It remains to be examined very closely now whether the US dilemma is only guided by its realization that the global jihad is driven by a vicious, fascist ideology that can cause terrible suffering or that they do not want Putin to steal the credit.

Post 9/11 it was trendy to speak about Islamo-fascism. Then it was moved to Global War on terrorism and subsequently re-branded as Great War for Democracy. But none could miss the point that those shifts were favourable to the United States. The monopoly on intellectual rights was exploited to the hilt. Thus while 9/11 called for Globar War and bombing of Afghanistan, after 26/11 in Mumbai, the Indian government was advised to apply restraints. 
Real Shake-Hands Time
Double standards is a small word.

The American experts are again throwing up statistics to camouflage the world war against terror saying hardly 7 per cent of violent deaths globally are a result of acts of terrorism. 

Compared to the 32,727 terrorist fatalities, there have been about 377,000 casualties collectively, in interpersonal violence, gang violence, or economically motivated crimes – but not terrorism as the world understands, says the US. 

But Russia under Putin wants to act against terror. In fact, it is believed Putin has multiple goals as he wants to capture the world relevance for his country as was the legacy of cold war days. 
From an Indian point of view, Russia is an important global partner. The Russian relations with India have always been and will be one of the most important foreign policy priorities probably for both the countries. The rapport established between Vladimir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been good. This sums up the importance attached by Moscow towards New Delhi over the years --- both during the erstwhile Soviet Union days and later since the split – and also the importance attached by India towards Russia. But having said that the entire ‘global war’ against terrorism – now namely Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) – is must, it is also crucial to examine Russia’s real intent of the future.  

It ought to be remembered that despite befriending India and despite its commitment to fight terror, Russia has lately sought friendship or rather military partnership with Pakistan too.
On November 19, 2015 days after Paris Attack, both Pakistan and Russia sprang a minor surprise when they inched closer. To start with, Nawaz Sharif happily called that both Russia and Pakistan were entering into "a new phase of strong relationship" by working out landmark defence agreement. 
It will commence on the sale of attack helicopters. The two countries shared a thorny relationship during the cold war and had only worsened with Soviet Union's entry in Afghanistan in 1980s. 

An enthusiastic Nawaz Sharif has tried to go all gaga about his friendship with Russian leadership and asserted that his country has taken a firm stance on terrorism and extremism to ensure a peaceful, stable and investor friendly environment and terrorists' hideouts and infrastructure has been dismantled. 

New game changers?
India may not be convinced. Even the US has spoken about 'snakes' in the backyards of Pakistan. 
All these need not be very important.

Importantly however, Moscow seems to buy that line as Russian delegation led by Victor P Ivanov, Co-Chairman of the Russian-Pakistani Intergovernmental Commission on Economic, Trade and Scientific Cooperation, has said that there exists a huge potential for ‘mutual’ trade between Russia and Pakistan.

Not long ago, Russia had assured India that it would not do any military cooperation with Pakistan. But why these changes? What do these actually imply?

In the past, Russia had ignored Pakistan, albeit deliberately, for decades in its arms sales because of Islamabad’s clear tilt towards the US. Moscow also realized that the terrorism menace spreading from tacit support from Pakistan and open revolt in Afghanistan could possibly create future tensions in Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and rest of Central Asia.
So where do we come? Is Russia like the US in the past too embarking on a journey for a war against terrorism/Jihad based on a false prospectus?
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government needs to study this in details. Not long ago even western powers believed, the Russian intervention in Syria would be a geo-strategic disaster for the United States.

It is understood that Russian intervention will help Moscow as also Tehran.
Iran, the Shia face of Islamic radicalism, will get weapons it perhaps need desperately to fight Americans’ and protect its nuke programme. Russia will gain a permanent foothold in the Middle East and a new coalition to counter the US influence. Will this also diminish India’s quest for more relevance in global power play?



  1. I strongly agree that with Russian intervention in Syria would be a geo-strategic disaster for the United States, it may weaken the network of the US (through terrorists), spread over Islamic states and would effect the earning of revenue & power game. With the presence of Russia at Syria, US can't continue its operations around and at the same time, will not allow turkey for any offensive or defensive strikes. Whereas Russia may not withdraw its defense from Syria and wait for a NATO action, so that Russia can prove its defense system is more powerful than US.

  2. thanks SudhirDJain for yr comments.