Vladimir Putin with female Russian child in Red Square.

Poetin’s slinkse omweg naar Damascus

MOSKOU – Toen de Russische president Vladimir Poetin op 28 september de Algemene Vergadering van de Verenigde Naties toesprak wist hij dat hij in het middelpunt van de belangstelling van de wereld zou staan en dat hij de Amerikaanse president Barack Obama zou overtroeven met zijn roep om een verenigd front in de strijd tegen de Islamitische Staat. Maar Poetin sprak ook, volledig bewust van de noodzaak ze af te leiden van de steeds opzichtiger economische uitdagingen van hun land, de Russen zelf toe.

Afgelopen jaar bestond de afleiding uit de annexatie van de Krim, gevolgd door de steun aan pro-Russische separatisten in oostelijk Oekraïne. De recente inzet van Russische vliegtuigen, raketten en een paar duizend militairen in Syrië is substituut vlagvertoon voor dat mislukte ‘Novorossiya’ project. De critici van Poetin zien zijn Syrische avontuur terecht als het zoveelste beroep op de Russische nostalgie naar het Sovjetverleden: de USSR was machtig – en Poetin claimt dat Rusland over dezelfde kracht kan beschikken en deze kan inzetten.

Maar met welk doel? De Verenigde Staten en het Westen de voet dwars zetten kan op de korte termijn een goede tactiek zijn, maar er lijkt geen lange termijn visie te bestaan van de doelen die de Russische macht zou moeten dienen, anders dan de heerschappij van de Russische elite in stand te houden. Als resultaat hiervan veinst het regime democratie terwijl het zijn propagandamachine gebruikt om een agressieve vorm van nationalisme te voeden.

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