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palacio100_Mikhail SvetlovGetty Images_putinlookinggrumpy Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

Russia Is a Strategist, Not a Spoiler

From Iran’s audacious attack on major oil facilities in Saudi Arabia to the launch of an impeachment inquiry against US President Donald Trump, the last month has underscored the volatility gripping the international order. Now, three major players – Europe, Russia, and the US – are transforming their global roles.

MADRID – On October 1, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced his government’s support for an agreement that would lead to elections in the eastern provinces of Luhansk and Donetsk – large parts of which were seized by Russian-backed separatists in 2014 – with the ultimate goal of granting them special self-governing status. It was an important development, not only because it signaled Ukrainian acquiescence to a process that could end hostilities in the country, but also because of its implications for a world order in turmoil.

From Iran’s audacious attack on major oil facilities in Saudi Arabia to the launch of an impeachment inquiry against US President Donald Trump, the last month has underscored the volatility gripping the international order. As Saudi Arabia and Iran vie for dominance in the Middle East, and as China’s position in the international order continues to evolve, three other major players – Europe, Russia, and the United States – are transforming their global roles.

Begin with Russia. Since 2014, when the country invaded Ukraine and illegally annexed Crimea, the conventional view has been that President Vladimir Putin had decided to act as a spoiler in international affairs. After all, while the country was powerful enough to cause trouble – and, it hoped, to safeguard its sphere of influence – it lacked the resources to reprise its role as a global heavyweight.

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  1. guriev24_ Peter KovalevTASS via Getty Images_putin broadcast Peter Kovalev/TASS via Getty Images

    Putin’s Meaningless Coup

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    The message of Vladimir Putin’s call in his recent state-of-the-nation speech for a constitutional overhaul is not that the Russian regime is going to be transformed; it isn’t. Rather, the message is that Putin knows his regime is on the wrong side of history – and he is dead set on keeping it there.

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