Leaving the future to Russia, or not

Published 17.02.2016 00:54

No one doubts that Russia's current policies have disturbed world balances. During the transformation process that began with the Arab Spring, many governments have fallen and Western powers made sure to limit Russia's influence in the Eastern Mediterranean. Even in Cyprus, the peace talks seem to be on track, so one can understand why Russia is so worried about being encircled.

To change the course of events, Russia has decided to impose its will on Ukrainians by dividing the country in two and annexing Crimea. Russia let everybody know that it will not allow anyone to do anything in the Black Sea region without its consent. Then Moscow decided to do something in Syria as well, conveying the message that it still has to be taken into account in the Eastern Mediterranean equation.

Russia's attitude has created a chain reaction, as German-Russian relations have worsened, badly affecting the EU-Russian relationship. Oddly, it did not lead to a rapprochement in EU-U.S. relations. Then, Turkish-Russian relations plunged into crisis, but, oddly again, that did not cause a real confrontation between NATO and Russia. The West has, by the way, decided to bury the hatchet with Iran, which opened its doors wide to European investors. Europe has forgotten all about Ukraine, and the thought of gaining Iran is compensation enough. However, because of the refugee crisis, Europe understood it would not be easy to dictate anything to the Middle East and looked for ways to have a new relationship with Turkey. Of course, when we say Europe, we are mostly saying Germany.

In the meantime, Russia has done everything to oppose regional players against one another: Turkey and Syrian Kurds and Iran and Saudi Arabia. Quite odd alliances have also appeared, as today on the paper Saudi Arabia and Iran have a common enemy in DAESH. Everyone knows, however, that these two countries are each other's enemies. The circumstances allowed Turkey to launch a rapprochement process with Israel and Egypt as well as the EU, but Turkish-U.S. relations have encountered some difficulties.

It is as if Russia is holding the key pieces of the puzzle.

U.S. President Barack Obama's administration does not totally object to Russia's demands. It might willingly leave certain areas to Russian influence. The U.S., however, would not accept Russia having more influence in Europe. With all this happening, Europe seems to be paralyzed by the migrant crisis and Germany is trying to dictate its will to everybody else and still tries to remain equally close to both the U.S. and Russia, hoping to maximize its gains.

There is another power in this game, however, whose voice is barely heard, and that is the United Kingdom. This country is persuaded that Russian President Vladimir Putin is fooling Obama and it tries to put pressure on Europe to act. The whole story about leaving the EU is part of this pressure. The U.K. also believes that encouraging American allies to act without consulting the U.S. first may be useful to alert Washington. The Saudi-Turkish initiative may be a part of this plan.

The U.S. has the luxury to retreat to its continent, but the U.K. cannot survive if it was imprisoned on its isles. That is why Britain has to be a part of every game. Even the meeting between the Catholic pope and Orthodox patriarch give interesting signals. And what about the Anglican Church?

Why is Europe leaving its destiny in the hands of Russia or of only one of its members? Isn't it perfect timing to include Turkey into Europe's future? Tomorrow may be too late.

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