Is Putin Walking In Milosevic’s Footsteps?

Strobe Talbott, author of The Russia Hand: A Memoir of Presidential Diplomacy, and a former adviser to Bill Clinton, contends Vladimir Putin’s confrontational view of the West was evident when he first gained power.

“In foreign affairs, the single most important policy Putin inherited from [his predecessor Boris] Yeltsin was unequivocal respect for the territorial integrity of Russia’s neighbors, notably those in ‘the near abroad’ – that is, in the former Soviet space. At the time of the USSR’s breakup 23 years ago, Yeltsin insisted that the borders of the old Soviet republics would become the borders of the 15 new independent states. There was much grumbling at the time, especially about Ukraine – and, most of all, about Crimea,” Talbott observes.

Talbott, who is now with the Brookings Institution, says Putin made an early decision to depart from, rather than follow, the policies of Yeltsin, particularly where it concerned the territorial integrity of the Soviet Union. In designing a foreign policy directly at odds with Yeltsin, Talbott sees Putin as following a path similar to that paved by Serbian dictator Slobodan Milosevic.

“Yeltsin held the line on the status quo: There would be no territorial adjustments to align the political map with the ethnographic one or to correct historical anomalies. In effect, Yeltsin made what became the borders of an independent, post-Soviet Russia a red line that neither he nor his successors should ever cross.

“By that decision alone, he helped spare the USSR as it disbanded the mayhem, ethnic cleansing and civil war that ravaged Yugoslavia under Slobodan Milosević, leading to NATO’s military intervention and Kosovo’s eventual secession from Belgrade’s rule.

“If Putin forcibly separates Crimea from Ukraine and reunifies it with Russia, thus negating Yeltsin’s decision and commitment, he will be following the Milosević example – but with possible consequences that could jeopardize the territorial integrity of Russia itself.

The comparison drawn between Putin and Milosevic is echoed elsewhere.

Nenad Pejic writes on RadioFreeEurope says there is little difference between Vladimir Putin and Slobodan Milosevic.

According to Pejic, both the Serbian and Russian media relied on false images to promote their agenda and both employed “politically and emotionally loaded language” to characterize their opponents in negative terms, using descriptors such as “fascists” and “anti-Semites.”

“This is how wars begin. This is how societies are mobilized to hate. Ordinary citizens are subjected to fear and propaganda eventually eroding the trust in other ethnic groups, other nationalities,” he writes.

Who Is Stanislav Yevgrafovich Petrov?
Stanislav Yevgrafovich Petrov. Few people recognize the name. Yet, Erol Araf of The National Post says the Russian scientist should be known and recognized as the man who saved the world from nuclear destruction.

– inform his superiors or he would try to verify the accuracy of the warning. His capacity to understand global affairs informed the decision he would make.


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