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22 March, 2014 09:44   ▪  

The Economist: Putin has driven a tank over the existing world order

The post-Soviet world order was far from perfect, but Vladimir Putin’s idea for replacing it is much worse, The Economist reports.

“The reality is that Mr Putin is a force for instability and strife. The founding act of his new order was to redraw a frontier using arguments that could be deployed to inflame territorial disputes in dozens of places around the world. Even if most Crimeans do want to join Russia, the referendum was a farce. Russia’s recent conduct is often framed narrowly as the start of a new cold war with America. In fact it poses a broader threat to countries everywhere because Mr Putin has driven a tank over the existing world order”, The Economist says.

Mr. Putin is now destroying the post-Soviet order. “He dresses up his takeover of Crimea in the garb of international law, arguing for instance that the ousting of the government in Kiev means he is no longer bound by a treaty guaranteeing Ukraine’s borders that Russia signed in 1994, when Ukraine gave up nuclear weapons. But international law depends on governments inheriting the rights and duties of their predecessors”, The Economist claims.

Plenty of countries could find Putin’s new order far worse. “Small countries thrive in an open system of rules, albeit imperfect ones. If might is right, they have much to fear, especially if they must contend with an aggressive regional power. Larger countries, especially the new giants of the emerging world, face less threat of bullying, but an anarchic, mistrustful world would harm them all the same. If international agreements are robbed of their meaning, India could more easily be sucked into a clash of arms with China over Arunachal Pradesh or Ladakh with Pakistan”, The Economist says. Even for China it’s a difficult precedent “Tactically, Crimea ties it in knots. The precedent of secession is anathema, because of Tibet; the principle of unification is sacrosanct, because of Taiwan”, the article recalls.

Even if the West is prepared to take serious measures against Mr Putin, the world’s rising powers may not be inclined to condemn him. But instead of acquiescing in his illegal annexation of Crimea, they should reflect on what kind of a world order they want to live under.


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