LONDON – Vladimir Putin may (or may not) enjoy 80% public support in Russia for his Ukraine policy; but it has become increasingly clear that he has bitten off more than he can chew. The question is: At what point will his position as President become untenable?
Leave to one side the moral and geopolitical background of the Ukraine imbroglio. Russians are justified, I believe, in their view that the West took advantage of Russia’s post-communist weakness to encroach on their country’s historic space. The Monroe Doctrine may be incompatible with contemporary international law; but all powers strong enough to enforce a strategic sphere of interest do so.
There is merit, I also believe, in Putin’s contention that a multipolar world is better than a unipolar world for advancing the cause of human flourishing. No single power or coalition is wise or disinterested enough to claim universal sovereignty.
So it should be no surprise that Russia and other countries have started to build an institutional structure for multi-polarity. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which includes Russia, China, and four ex-Soviet Central Asian states, was established in 2001. Last month, the five BRICS countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa – established the New Development Bank and a contingent reserve fund to diversify sources of official lending to developing countries.