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Why Russians can’t speak English
Is the recent Russia vs. its allies war-of-words indication of its failure?
Is Russia losing its diplomatic edge? This could be easily sensed by the assertive words of President Dmitry Medvedev in his speech addressing the Red Army against, hold your breath, Russia’s old allies. And the compliments are returned with interest. Of late, Russia’s erstwhile allies like Estonia, Latvia, Ukraine and Lithuania – who were solely dependent on Russia economically, socially and even emotionally – have been spouting vitriol on Russia to a large extent.
Of course, disintegration of the erstwhile USSR, economic disaster and the resultant political mess in 1990s diluted Russia’s image considerably. However, with oil prices rising steeply, and a quasi-mafiosi Putin government in place to keep things in autocratic check, Russia recovered like nobody’s business. But though Russia is claimed to have more than 6500 nuclear weapons – and ergo commands appropriate respect – its geographical allies and non-allies seem to be making mincemeat of that figure with their open dissent against Russia.
Though Russia possibly can’t threaten relatively powerless neighbours with the claim of nuking them, what Russia can do – as was displayed in the August 2008 war against Georgia and in the January 2009 gas cut to Ukraine (and in turn, Europe) – is to act militarily and by cutting supplies of essential commodities. But while Russia withdrew from Georgia after giving ‘independence’ to a few territories, Russia had to eat its words in the Ukraine case and had to resume gas supplies.
Where Russia has failed magnanimously has been to be considered a powerful and logical spokesperson on global issues. There is no global forum where Russian leaders are respected for what they speak. Unless Medvedev realises this, Russia – for whatever it is worth militarily and economically – will continue to get the short end.
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