ANALYSIS – The decline in relations between Russia and the West began with the collapse of the Soviet Union, when Moscow having turned its back on Communism looked to its former Cold War foe for guidance. The year was 1991, and what followed in the months and years after can today be seen for what it is – a great lost opportunity.
Washington sent in its academics, including one Jeffrey Sachs who came up with a revolutionary idea of his own called shock therapy – opening up the state and its assets to market forces.
Within seven years, a superpower was bankrupt and today’s Russia is arguably still suffering from the after effects both socially and economically. Russians regard that dark period in their history as a lost decade. It was a time when a forward thinking and humanitarian leader like Boris Yelsin, who pulled his troops out of Grozny and continued to enact reforms of the state and economy, was made to look like a drunk fool as Russia lurched from one crisis to another. He, like Mikhail Gorbachev before him, had not believed the Soviet propaganda about the bad old West.
And like Gorbachev, he was reduced to looking like a modern Sultan dangling at the end of a puppet master’s string.
When Vladimir Putin stepped into the breach, he brought a form of order as well as respectability. But all that has come at a terrible cost – in the killing fields of the Caucasus where he installed a modern day Khan, and now with the fall of his man in Ukraine could a war be looming over the future of the Crimea? Looking at the scenes of ethnic Russians in Crimea clearly rejecting recent events in Kiev and seeking guidance from Kremlin that remains a possibility as Vladimir Putin uses all the tools at his disposal to preserve a vital pillar of Russia’s security and identity.