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De laatste man staande

LONDEN – Veel van de moderne geopolitiek lijkt de plot van Game of Thrones te volgen, waarbij veel landen onder zoveel politieke en economische druk staan dat hun enige hoop is dat hun rivalen eerder instorten dan zijzelf. Dus hun regeringen klampen zich vast aan de macht terwijl ze de interne zwakheden van hun rivalen exploiteren.

De Russische president Vladimir Poetin is het voornaamste voorbeeld. Zijn recente campagnes in Syrië en Oekraïne lijken misschien het werk van een geopolitieke vrijbuiter, maar het is binnenlandse zwakheid die ten grondslag ligt aan zijn avonturisme. De Russische annexatie van de Krim bijvoorbeeld was grotendeels een poging om het regime van Poetin een hernieuwde legitimiteit te bieden na een winter vol onvrede, gedurende welke demonstranten de straat opgingen om tegen zijn terugkeer als president te protesteren.

Rivaliserende machten – vooral de Verenigde Staten en de Europese Unie – hebben sancties opgelegd in de hoop frictie binnen de Russische elite te vergroten, en exploiteren daarbij het feit dat Poetin zijn economie niet gediversifieerd heeft weg van gas en olie. Poetin op zijn beurt hoopt dat de Russische economie lang genoeg boven water blijft om Oekraïne in te laten storten. Om dat proces te versnellen heeft het Kremlin geen mogelijkheid tot destabilisatie onbenut gelaten: het heeft militaire invallen gelanceerd, de Oekraïense politiek gemanipuleerd, gebruik gemaakt van energie-chantage, en zich bezig gehouden met informatie-oorlogsvoering.

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