The G20 Summit in Turkey, intensification of Russian airstrikes in Syria and a glimmer of hope for an improvement in relations between Russia and the West all made headlines.
Last week was devoted to the G20 Summit in Turkey, mourning for the victims of the terror attacks in France and Egypt, and the search for a joint approach to fighting international terrorism. Despite the clear commonality of the global terrorism problem and the prospects for a joint solution, each of the great powers continues to play its own game.
Results from the G20 Summit in Turkey
On Nov. 15-16 the Turkish city of Antalya turned into the center of world politics as it played host to the G20 Summit. Although the G20 was initially an economic platform, with politics supposedly the preserve of the G8, the latter’s reversion to the G7 format means that it lacks some of its former authority to take legitimate political decisions on a global scale. So the burden has now passed to the G20.
In the wake of the recent attacks in Cairo, Beirut and Paris and the explosion on board the Russian airliner, the main topic of the forum in Antalya was international terrorism. All eyes were on Russian president Vladimir Putin, who is leading the fight.
U.S. newspaper The Wall Street Journal, which can hardly be accused of being a Kremlin sympathizer, noted that the Russian leader was “front and central throughout the whole summit in Turkey.” Taking advantage of his privileged position, Putin reiterated his previous call in September at the UN General Assembly for the world to join forces in the fight against the absolute evil that is terrorism.
“The terror attacks in Paris make it absolutely imperative for everyone to put aside all excuses, pretexts and preconditions and focus on creating a truly universal anti-terror front,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said, explaining the Kremlin’s position. But Moscow’s call was not heeded, as Brussels is not prepared either to trust Moscow or to give up dividing terrorists into “good ones” and “bad ones.”
Russia needs its own Operation Wrath of God
On Nov. 20, FSB head Alexander Bortnikov officially stated that the Russian Airbus A321 had been brought down by an on board bomb. Vladimir Putin immediately vowed that all those implicated would be found and destroyed.
The Russian Defense Ministry has been instructed to intensify its operation in Syria. The number of anti-terror sorties has doubled, and terrorist positions near Raqqa have been hit with cruise missiles. It is also possible that the Russian Air Force will strike the militant group known as Wilayat Sinai (which has claimed responsibility for the bombing of the plane), following public consultations with the Egyptian authorities and private consultations with Israel.
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Over time, the Kurds established cultural centers in Russia’s two biggest cities, Moscow and St. Petersburg, to preserve their identity and culture. At the same time, their influence over regional sociopolitical processes remained fairly limited, thus keeping them off the radar of local officials. But with the ongoing war in Syria, tensions in Turkey and serious divisions in Iraq, the Kurdish issue acquires a greater international dimension for Russia.
The president may be playing a strategic game to gain benefits from both the EU and Russia by continuing to manouevre between them, as Ukraine has done for some time. But there are also two short-term electoral imperatives.
If Russia holds out until 2020 and all attempts by its enemies to bring it to economic collapse, chaos, and disintegration fail, then we can be certain that the era of Western dominance has ended. Thus, international relations will officially enter a new era.
The main issue to be decided was the future of NATO, which had been established as a counterbalance to the Soviet Union. However, starting in 1991, the Soviet Union lost control over the events in Central and Eastern Europe. Communist governments fell, the Warsaw Pact dissolved, and the West had no impetus to engage in any negotiations or agreements with Moscow.