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Putin the Peacemaker, Triumph of hard power over diplomacy

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Few would believe that Russian strongman Vladimir Putin has been persistently pursuing peace and is eager to go the whole hog in pursuit of his purpose of establishing peace, though his peacemaking policy has always been received with scepticism. Though the cyberspace keeps resonating with tirades against Putin, views from a cross section of analysts reveal that Putin is inherently a peacemaker. One recent example is of CNN’s long-time Moscow correspondent Jill Dougherty who believes that Putin is switching from warrior to diplomat, insisting “the only aim (of Russia’s military operation in Syria) is to aid in establishing peace.”

Putin has been in power in Russia since August 1999 and is hugely admired by his supporters for many a thing; prime among them is Russia’s resurgence in the global politics and for this Syria serves as the perfect example. The incessant attacks by Russian air force on “terrorist” hideouts in Syria and the telecast of the bombings via videos sensationalized the situation and gave a boost to Putin’s popularity graph among the Russians.

Syria underwent unrest in March 2011 when the wave of Arab Spring that had swept across the Middle East struck the country and protests against the Bashar al-Assad regime broke out. The policy of quelling the uprising with force not only led to gross acts of violence but also proved counterproductive as instead of giving up, the opposition started armed rebellion against the government that was backed by the United States and led by Saudi Arabia, later.

On the other hand, Russia has been consistently supporting the Assad regime and providing it with the munitions. Russia started bombing the Syrian territory in order to protect al-Assad, overtly stating that the launch is meant just to uproot the control of the self-styled Islamic State and all other terrorist groups.

While the world is increasingly taking Putin’s steps in Syria as naked aggression, he has come up with another streak of attacks that are ‘destructively constructive’ to some analysts. Presenting himself as a diplomat, not a warrior, Putin thinks of a plan of peacemaking in Syria. With a view to further entrenching himself in this role, Putin has been in touch with the leaders of other regional powers. However, his efforts suffered a serious setback when Turkey shot down a Russian plane near the Turkey-Syria border on November 24, 2015 and claimed that the Russian jet violated Turkish airspace.

Russia has come forward covertly in order to counterbalance the United States in the realm of holding power in the Middle East under the garb of tackling terrorism. President Putin has been urging America and Europe to join him in his efforts to stem the rising wave of IS terrorism. Hence, Russia is eyeing to become a more potent global player in connection with combating terrorism and establishing peace thereupon.

Russia’s foreign minister Sergey Lavrov has been in contact with the US Secretary of State John Kerry and the representatives of other regional powers. Vienna talks, in which Russia was also a stakeholder, serve as a proof that Russia’s influence regarding this issue cannot be underrated.

In addition to attacking insurgents in Syria, Putin has also been persuading Bashar al-Assad to initiate dialogue process with the opposition. And, in order to resolve the crisis, Assad has been giving a positive response. Lately, the plan for peace talks has been set. Thus, Putin turned out as a saviour for al-Assad regime with his diplomatic mission of ‘peacemaking’, asserting his sway in the region. The tactful slogan of peacemaking with the limited use of force has thrown the United States and the Allies into an imbroglio.

The conflict between Turkey and Russia over shooting down of warplane triggered tensions and an intense war of words between the two countries ensued. Distressed over the situation and with Turkish attitude, Russia decided to impose economic sanctions on Turkey. And, now when Turkey has tendered an apology, Putin agreed to meet his Turkish counterpart and they both had recently held talks in which Syria was the most dominant issue. The very step speaks volumes about the peacefulness on the part of Russia, which could have opted for waging a war otherwise.

Few know that Putin has an acute sense of playing as peacemaker, though his peacemaking policy has always been a bitter pill to swallow for his opponents because he gets such policies materialized on come-what-may basis. Russia would not hesitate to make a limited use of armaments for such a purpose. However, Kremlin has come up with a bigger plan this time — to persuade other powers to align with Russia for the purpose of countering terrorism. It seeks partnership with this agendum under its own umbrella, not of the United States, as the latter, according to Putin, has been dictating the world under the garb of this agenda. Putin’s subtle, brave and sugar-coated peacemaking policies have paved the way for Russia to play globally for its enhanced sway over the world. In mid-July, US Secretary of State John Kerry met Putin and offered setting up a centre of soldiers of both countries for sharing information and synchronizing strikes against terrorists.

America was in a continuous bid to topple Bashar al-Assad government and it left no stone unturned but it had to bite the dust at last as Russia’s best brain succeeded in his plan. The long and short of the story is that it is a great success on the part of Russia which has impressed upon its rivals.

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