Belarus, Nagorno-Karabakh: The Kremlin seems to loose its iron grip on its neighborhood. This begs the question: How successful has Putin's foreign policy been? A thread.
Starting point: Putin has two major foreign policy goals:

a) Control of the neighborhood, ie Eastern Europe, Southern Caucasus, Central Asia, parts of Middle East and North Africa. Pretty much like during the times of the Soviet Union.
b) Standing on eye level with the US: be respected globally and have a seat on the table when global issues are being negotiated, one way or the other.
Measured against this, there are only two successes: having annexed Crimea and having turned Syria into a client state, making the Assad regime largely dependent on Russia, militarily and diplomatically.
On the other side, many failures:
- Ukraine lost, as it is on its way to the West and the liberal order;
- Belarus potentially lost, as it may follow the Ukrainian path at least longer-term;
- Diminished influence in Azerbaijan and Armenia, formerly parts of Russia’s „sphere“;
- Influence in Central Asia increasingly diminished (due to the rise of Chinese influence);
- In Libya lost against Turkey, by betting on Haftar;
- Turkey turned into an adversary and competitor, instead of an ally;
- Lost the huge amount of goodwill that existed in Germany;
- Frustrated hopes in Poland about detente with Russia;
- Deeply angered the US by interfering into its domestic politics.
Bottom line: Putin’s foreign policy project, the quasi-restoration of the Soviet Union (in terms of geopolitics), has largely failed; Russian influence is diminished, it is isolated and has almost no friends left.

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More from @ulrichspeck

25 Sep
EU foreign policy: ending the unanimity requirement by introducing some sort of majority voting (QMV) on foreign affairs has become the next holy grail in the debate. Quick thread.
Yet we have to get rid of the idea that some sort of institutional arrangement will end the disagreement and produce magically a united, coherent EU capable and will to act like a great power on the world stage.
We have been there before. Once it was the introduction of a Brussels-based diplomatic service and a foreign minister-like figure that would end the „gridlock“. Yet we have both now, and still no broad consensus, rather the opposite.
Read 10 tweets
15 Sep
Germany feels more uncomfortable with NS2 more than ever, but it feels equally uncomfortable with abandoning the project. And the reason for this is geopolitical.
It feels uncomfortable because it is concerned about Navalny and about Belarus, which are seen just the last points in a long list of aggressive acts by Russia. Ukraine was the wake-up call, the gamer-changer, 2020 is the confirmation that Russia is not really a partner.
Yet it's difficult to change course after years of pushing NS2 through against the will and views of EU neighbors. And US pressure doesn't help, as bowing to it would look as if Germany had become a vassal of Trump.
Read 10 tweets
8 Sep
Es gibt einen Konsens der Russland-Kenner, dass die von Deutschland maßgeblich mitinitiierten und immer wieder erneuerten westlichen Sanktionen gegen Russland wegen der russischen Militärintervention im Donbas erheblich dazu beigetragen haben, den russischen Vormarsch zu stoppen.
Wirkung ebenso wie Nichtwirkung von Sanktionen lässt sich im übrigen nie zweifelsfrei nachweisen; beide Vermutungen beruhen auf kontrafaktischen Szenarien, wie der Sanktionierte / Nichtsanktionierte sich verhalten hätte, wenn es keine Sanktionen / Sanktionen gegeben hätte.
Bei den Einlassungen von Altmaier geht es offenbar um eine grundlegendere Frage: lässt sich Wirtschaft im Zeitalter geopolitischen Wettbewerbs abkoppeln von der Gesamtstrategie, oder müssen wirtschaftliche Entscheidungen geopolitisch überprüft werden?
Read 5 tweets
8 Sep
Both Russia and Belarus have now opposition leaders in exile.
The fight of the ruling classes against dissent and democracy has reached a new stage.
In Belarus the reason is obvious, but it seems as if the Kremlin also sees the protest as a glimpse into a potential future and is hardening its attitude towards dissent.
Read 4 tweets
7 Sep
@DmitriTrenin seems to argue that Germany's energy interdependence with Russia has made the Kremlin more open to compromise in Ukraine and Belarus. Yet Russian aggression against Ukraine since 2014 and the current silent takeover of Belarus suggests the opposite.
Germany reacts to changes in Russia: a more authoritarian system leaving less space for opposition; no compromise in Ukraine; war crimes in Syria; the propping up of the Belarusian dictator. The old strategy of interdependence has produced the opposite of what was intended.
A big cyber attack on the German parliament and the killing of an opponent of the regime in plain sight in Berlin has demonstrated to Germans that the Kremlin has no respect for German sovereignty -- that it doesn't consider Germany a partner.
Read 6 tweets
5 Sep
@meistefan1 zu Navalny: "Auf jeden Fall müssen hochrangige Leute davon wissen, wenn dieses Nervengift gegen eine so wichtige Person angewandt werden soll. Ob Putin selbst davon wusste, das kann ich nicht sagen. Aber das System Putin wusste davon."…
"Wenn Nowitschok bei einem Anschlag nachgewiesen werden kann, ist das eine klare Ansage. Dann weiß man, wer dahintersteckt."
"Es dürfte bei dem Anschlag durchaus darum gegangen sein, die wichtigste und sichtbarste Figur der Opposition auszuschalten. Aber sicher sollte auch Nawalnys Umfeld abgeschreckt und ganz generell Angst verbreitet werden."
Read 4 tweets

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