Thursday, October 11, 2018

Why is Putin Going to War in Yet Another Country in Africa? Russians Ask

Paul Goble

            Staunton, October 11 – At a time when Russians are increasingly focused on their domestic affairs instead of foreign policy and when many believe that Moscow is overextended abroad, Vladimir Putin has apparently launched a new Russian military mission in Libya, sparking a sharp debate about why he has chosen to do so especially in the current climate.

            The discussion in the blogosphere and in independent media outlets has become intense with many asking what could possibly be the reason for Putin’s actions in Libya. (For a survey of some of these commentaries, see

                The discussion has gone far beyond the question of Russia’s involvement in Libya to queries about what Russia is doing across Africa ( and its implications for Russia itself, between those who say it is Putin’s repetition of the overextension that destroyed the USSR to those who insist the campaign will be self-financing (  vs.

            But most important, it is a reminder that instead of seeing Putin’s adventures abroad as an assertion of Russia’s great power claims, Russians today are assessing them in terms of what they cost in terms of cutbacks at home, something ever fewer of them appear willing to tolerate even from Putin.

            And that in turn means that even if Putin gains a leg up on the West, it will bring him far fewer political benefits at home even as it guarantees that there will be more Western sanctions, something that will make his own position there even more difficult.

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