November 24, 2015 -
Ruslan Ostashko, PolitRussia -
Translated for Fort Russ by J. Arnoldski
"Putin's strategy is changing the plans of the G20"
The terrorist attacks in Paris and Egypt overshadowed a very important event this week - the G20 summit in Turkey. It really is a pity that this happened because, after all, the summit graphically showed that many of the horror stories which our Western opponents and our liberal opposition threatened us with have turned out to be unfounded. The most banal example is the horror tale of Russia and President Putin himself being isolated.
The idea itself of isolating Putin and Russia is popular to such a large extent that I’ve met citizens of Ukraine who in total seriousness write on social media that the main success of the Maidan is that now no one wants to talk with Putin. Liberal media in Russia really loves to present this so-called isolation as a tragedy and kicking out of Russia from the friendly European family. But what did we see at work in the framework of the G20 summit? Putin met with Obama. Putin met with Xi Jinping. Putin met with the Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi. Putin met with the director of the IMF, Christine Lagarde. Putin met with Merkel. I have a question: do you see any isolation? And did you maybe notice that the liberal media apologized to its readers for scaring them with this?
I would like to rewind back and recall last year’s G20 summit in Australia. Remember how the press savored the scandal of Australian premier Tony Abbot’s statement that he was going to shirtfront Putin? Remember the demarches and harsh statements of the Canadian prime minister Harper? Remember how the media discussed why Putin left Australia early? At the recent summit in Turkey, everything was quite different. This is partially connected with the fact that the prime ministers of Australia and Canada have already departed from politics. They have been replaced with more constructive players. In general, international journalists joke that going after Putin brings bad luck. But even without taking into account changes in the composition of participants, it is clear that the summit took place in an entirely different atmosphere. But what has actually changed over the past year? I would venture to suggest the following. Over the past year, Russia has showed the world its strength: the economy has not collapsed despite sanctions and the Russian army has turned out to be powerful and high-tech. As it turns out, they hit the weak and respect the strong. Maybe it’s time that we stop being shy of our strength?
Perhaps the only event of the G20 summit which drew a wide response in Russia was the statement of President Putin on Russia’s proposals on the issue of Ukraine’s debt.
The reaction of a part of our internet community, which immediately rushed into accusing the president of betraying the country’s interests, is very telling. And now I’m not speaking about the liberals. Unfortunately, a part of our patriotically oriented public doesn’t like to read news further than headlines and can be provoked easily. Let’s breakdown this issue in more detail.
And so, Putin suggested that the US, EU, and IMF act as the guarantors of Ukraine’s debt in exchange for a payment delay. Many saw this as some kind of capitulation before the West. But look, more than a bit of time has passed and no one, neither the US, EU, nor the IMF, is agreeing to Putin’s proposal. And let’s think, why?
Because the “guarantees of the West” which Putin demanded are concrete documents and financial obligations and not mere words of Obama or Merkel which can be taken back at any time. Any attempt to not pay for these guarantees, if they try to do so, means a default for the US and EU, which would lead to catastrophic consequences for the entire Western financial system, a risk which no one is willing to take. If the Western countries or the IMF will guarantee Ukrainian debt, they will pay under warranty. But no one in the modern world wants to voluntarily pay for Ukraine’s debt.
And the West still understands that Putin has put Washington in an extremely uncomfortable decision. The US needs either to pay for Ukraine or recognize that they long ago wrote off the accounts of the Ukrainian economy, that Ukraine has no future, and that all their words of support for Poroshenko’s regime were nothing more than words.
Specifically so that the Americans could save Ukraine, it was proposed that the rules of the IMF be changed with reference to Russia’s lack of desire to hold negotiations on debt. Russia demonstrated its willingness to restructure debt on terms favorable for itself. Now, organizing a change in the rules of the IMF would be significantly more difficult. The countries which pay for membership in the IMD would have to ask the reasonable question: why does the US not want to guarantee the debt of Ukraine while it is forcing the IMF to pour money into the Ukrainian economy? And there is no answer to this question.
One more meaningful event took place during the summit. Putin shared information on the funding channels of terrorism with his G20 colleagues. Out of the 40 countries through which ISIS’ funding comes, member countries of the G20 turned out to be on the list.
Here is what is interesting. Before the summit, Russian aircraft did not bomb the oil infrastructure of ISIS and did not bomb the fuel tankers with the aid of which ISIS participates in oil trading. But after the summit, massive bomb strikes on ISIS' oil infrastructure immediately began.
I have the suspicion that if we started to bomb ISIS’ petroleum before the summit, then we would have been actively criticized for attacks on civilians who just need fuel for generators and hospitals in order to, for example, continue operations. But after the summit at which Putin, behind closed doors, presented some evidence of Turkey and the US, all potential critics were silenced and now ISIS fuel tankers can be bombed without any one telling us anything. This is nothing more than my theory, but maybe you all agree?
It is really a pity that, in my opinion, the most important economic news of the summit remained practically ignored by the Russian press. A special communique of the G20 on the subject of the IMF adopted at the summit of Turkey urges the US to ratify the IMF reform from 2010.
This reform implies that the US will have to give up its blocking stake of votes in the IMF and the fund itself will cease to depend on Washington politicians. I’ll emphasize this: this is a general communique of the G20 and this means that the president of the US, Barack Obama, signed it.
It’s already been five years since 2010 when the European Union, China, Russia, and India began trying to deprive the US of the right to a blocking vote in the IMF and seeking to convert the IMF into an international financial organization which would be really jointly managed, and not by the decisions of one Washington. Now, the G20 is once again demanding the US Congress to give up control over the IMF, and Barack Obama supported this initiative with his signature on the G20 statement. This means there is the change to take away the IMF from the US in the future.
I know that there are many people who to this day believe that Russia is isolated, that Putin is isolated, and that we are a regional state and global gas station. Usually, these people have an icon of Wester politicians and they perceive everything that the West says as if it was the word of God. For precisely this category of people, I will simply quote a few headlines from Western media on the subject of the summit:
Daily Mail: “Putin comes out of the cold: desperate world leaders suck up to Putin to join the fight against ISIS”
Financial Times: “At the G20, Putin turned from an outcast into a politician involved in solving problems”
Bloomberg: “At the G20, Putin turned from a pariah into a full-fledged player”
Many Western media outlets are writing that Putin has offered the West a deal: he can help solve the problem of ISIS and refugees in the European Union, and in exchange he wants the West to have no claims to Ukraine. Personally, I don’t agree with this opinion. Ukraine now has no political significance, and fighting over it has no meaning. It will simply go as a bonus with a larger political deal. But what do you think?
One year ago, after the summit in Australia, the internet was full of the angry reactions of our fellow citizens who demanded that we slam the door shut, abandon attempts to negotiate with the West, lower the iron curtain, and slam our shoes on the podium of the UN. A year has passed and it has become clear that the calm and consistent strategy of Putin is yielding results. Sooner or later, the West will have to negotiate with us and on our terms. As the saying goes, the lazy will go with the flow and fools swim against the current but only the smart float where they want. The summit in Antalya showed that we sail where is necessary and we get there.