March 6th, 2014
09:55 AM ET

Putin tactics don't bode well for Russia

By Fareed Zakaria

There are those who are still trapped by history and geography. Think of Pakistan’s generals, still trying to establish “strategic depth” in their backyard while their country collapses. Or think of Putin, who is, as Secretary of State John Kerry said, playing a 19th century game in the 21st century. He may get Crimea. But what has he achieved? Ukraine has slipped out of Russia’s grasp, its people deeply suspicious of Moscow. Even in Crimea, the 40 percent who are non-Russian are probably restive and resentful. Moscow’s neighbors are alarmed, and once-warming relations with Poland will be set back. Trade and investment with Europe and the U.S. will surely suffer, whether there are sanctions or not.

Meanwhile, Russia continues along its path as an oil-dependent state with an increasingly authoritarian regime that has failed to develop its economy or civil society or to foster political pluralism. But no matter–Moscow controls Crimea. In today’s world, is that really a victory?

Read the TIME column

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Topics: Time

soundoff (16 Responses)
  1. Joseph McCarthy

    This is about the most idiotic post I've read here yet! How on earth can Russia, the second largest producer of oil in the world be "oil dependent"? It appears that this Fareed Zakaria is staunchly anti-Russian. Well, I'm not!

    March 6, 2014 at 11:15 am | Reply
    • Quigley

      Well said, Joseph. How true that is! Evidently, Fareed doesn't know Russian history very well.

      March 6, 2014 at 5:22 pm | Reply
    • deep blue

      He means dependent on the oil industry. Currently, the market for oil is very lucrative. Fareed is implying that this might not always be the case, so Russia's economy is at risk.

      March 7, 2014 at 8:44 am | Reply
      • sam pisani

        that is right deep blue glad someone sees that

        March 22, 2014 at 12:13 am |
    • Irfan

      Fareed Zakaria is a Indian Jackal disguised in American Skin is blaming Indian ex-ally USSR for which India sided during entire cold war. Indian state also pays to Fareed about negative propaganda against its arch rival Pakistan.
      India is trying to find strategic depth in Afghanistan and Pakistan is against Indian hegemony.

      March 11, 2014 at 2:58 pm | Reply
    • John

      He means Russia's economy is dependent on and propped up by selling oil. A major drop in price of oil would be catastrophic for them.

      March 27, 2014 at 8:37 am | Reply
      • John

        And a major drop in oil price would be disastrous to US as well. The US is one of the biggest oil producing countries. We actually produce more oil than we consume. We make money exporting oil. We also import oil which we refine and re-export. Obama is also working with Merkel to keep the oil price up to put pressure on environmental groups to allow fracking under the guise of providing cheaper oil. However, in reality, they have promised to keep the price of oil up so the surplus of oil will not cause a sharp drop in price causing fracking companies to go bust as happened to natural gas companies when the bubble burst on the price of natural gas in the US. So the US and European governments have already agreed to keep the price of gas/oil up for at least the next 5 years to protect fracking investors profits.

        April 8, 2014 at 8:56 pm |
  2. j. von hettlingen

    When Henry Ford, who was just a machinst and hadn't had a proper education, said, "history is bunk", his words should be taken with a pinch of salt. History is mankind's memory and guides the future. We get nowhere without the path made by the past.

    March 6, 2014 at 4:43 pm | Reply
  3. j. von hettlingen

    Crimea had been fought over and changed hands many times in its history. The state of affairs that led to the outbreak of the war in 1853 was surprisingly not much different from today's. Europeans and Russians exploited the weakness of the Ottoman-Turkish empire, and grabbed the opportunities to advance their interests in the region.

    March 6, 2014 at 6:13 pm | Reply
    • Danro

      It ended in disaster for Russia, leading the other European powers to join together and prop up the Ottomans.

      March 6, 2014 at 7:46 pm | Reply
  4. JAL

    Best to keep it simple.

    March 6, 2014 at 8:44 pm | Reply
  5. Ian

    Fareed has made a very good point here. With a lack of global confidence in setting up business in Russia Is it any wonder a country the size of Russia has so many people without the prosperity they should have by now , It's OK for little Putin with 40 billion of his peoples money.
    Further more if it wasn't for his tight control of the media, the people may see that his patriotic exercises could have the potential to place the Russian speaking people in the region on the front line of a war zone. Does he care at all? It seems he is carried away with his own "Small Man" insecurities or he actually has a low moral intellect!

    March 9, 2014 at 10:46 pm | Reply
  6. Ian

    The Answer, maybe?
    The establishment of the smartest cleanest system of governance the world has ever seen, setting an example like this would eventually create the biggest problem of all for the 40 billion dollar corrupt leader next door.
    Imagine for a moment if the new Ukrainian government could introduce a modern practical system of transparent governance. See the seven principles of public life (the Nolan principles)

    March 9, 2014 at 10:58 pm | Reply
  7. CONFUSED READER

    I don't understand the necessity to mention about Pakistani Generals, in particular. Just another blame game to increase his popularity.

    March 20, 2014 at 2:52 pm | Reply
  8. emil kaiypov

    ________________________________PAIISE THE WAR_______________________________
    My name is Emil Kaiypov. I am a citizen of the Kyrgyz Republic, a lawyer, and a father of two children. The proposal for which I am asking your kind support is the suspension of all currently existing hostilities on Earth.

    The main goal of my entire project is to save and improve the lives of children who are suffering from the present conflicts and violence.

    The challenge is to create a moment of "pause" [a technical term from video language] in hostilities now and in the future, as well as to refusal to restart them at all. I believe that in this context, such "pause" in the war action seems do-able and practical, much more effective than the idealistic and utopian pressing of an imaginary "stop" button. In the future the first action will equate to the second: "pause" will become "stop". In order to alert the international community and potential supporters, I made a demonstration of my own at 18 October 2013 on the territory of Syrian embassy in Beirut, with poster "pause the war".

    The purpose of this demonstration, is to show through an example that:

    1) one person has the power to perform an action directed to the benefit of all mankind.

    2) no one should be indifferent, when war is concerned.

    3) war requires us to drop everything else, in order to stop it. Daily activities, against the background of war, look meaningless and empty.

    I believe, that this idea will resonate and supporters will wish to join it. The age of information technologies, will help to spread it around the globe. Definitely there will be supporters among the world's famous celebrities. In the event that a large number of ordinary people and celebrities join this campaign, the dream to stop all military actions on the planet will be realized. This will serve as an occasion to announce the call for volunteers in the "international army of peace". It will consist of unarmed "soldiers" who are ready at any time, to go to the hot spot to "pause" the hostilities with the fact of their presence and to encourage the warring parties to engage in dialogue. Ideally, this army should consist of a world-famous and beloved celebrities from all spheres of human activities.

    I suggest that countries be ready to support my initiative, in solidarity, by placing on the cloth of their national flags, the well-known pause symbol "II". I believe that in the course of implementation of this anti-war action, the reasons for which the suspended armed conflict began, will be resolved or continued in a civilized manner. This anti-war action will bring about a new peaceful reality, when there will be no state left, which "international army of peace" had not visited.

    The termination of all hostilities, will become the point of departure for further continuous progress in all directions.

    We are able to bring about the time, when the world will be fairly managed by a workable international organization which will be trusted by all citizens of the earth. When this happens, all kinds of weapons will be transferred to international United Nations control, the purpose of which, will be the preservation of peace and sustainable development of mankind.

    We live in a world, when the collective effort makes possible the colonizing of other planets in the foreseeable future. I believe, that we have enough strength and resources for the child born tomorrow to see a world, where uniform international standards of education, labor, pension and medical care, will be established everywhere. A world, where the primary human needs will be satisfied for free.

    A world, where nobody talks about freedom, because absolute freedom will accompany each person from the moment of birth, to his last breath. A world, where the happiness and freedom of the individual, will not happen in isolation but will include freedom and happiness of all of humanity. A world without war.

    A world without war is undisputed goal, that sooner or later humanity will definitely reach. It is the primary duty of every adult to fulfill a "world in peace"– everyone’s childhood dream. Every child surrounded by the horrors of war dreams that one day somebody will come and say "It is enough!" and by saying it bring war to an end. Then war will stop. That day has come! It's time to combine our efforts in order to make that dream come true. 

    March 25, 2014 at 2:41 pm | Reply
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    April 10, 2014 at 9:22 am | Reply

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