Monday, May 28, 2018

For Ever More Russians, Putin’s Actions in Syria and in Ukraine are Foreign Policy Failures

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 28 – Many in the West view Vladimir Putin as a foreign policy mastermind who has completely outplayed everyone else in advancing his goals; but inside Russia, many people believe that he is not a success but a failure in foreign policy and point to the situation in Syria as Exhibit A.

            According to the Telegram channel The Forbidden Opinion  in fact, recent Russian losses in Syria make it clear that “it would be hard to imagine a scenario in which foreign policy would look worse than it does under Putin” (, reproduced at

            Syria is “a dream for an experienced gamer” given that there are now “dozens of various formations which are pursuing their own selfish interests” and that “a sovereign Syria doesn’t exist.” In this situation, “Putin from the beginning changed allies with such speed … that you can’t now figure out who is right and who is guilty,” The Forbidden Opinion says.

            Losses continue to mount but there is no resolution in site. And even Russian experts are now warning Putin that he is going to “’get burned’” as a result.  But this simply highlights a bigger problem: “’the successful foreign policy of Putin is an absolute fake and a propaganda lie,” something ever more Russians are recognizing.

            Some still like to say, the channel continues, that “’Putin is weak in domestic affairs but on the other hand good in foreign policy.’” But that is absurd: How can one consider the policy of a man who has gotten Russia into conflict with the whole world a success?’”  

            “If such ‘achievements’ are considered a success, then what could one consider ‘not a success’?” The Forbidden Opinion asks.  “Putin is not the greatest world strategist. In the past, he was a frustrated political figure with a chronic complex of incompleteness and now is a complete political corpse.”

            But he is “a course which they have forgotten to bury in a timely fashion and therefore he continues to sit on the throne and foul the surrounding air.”

            Another Telegram channel, SerpomPo, makes similar points.  Noting that “it is difficult to say what Putin’s Syrian adventure means for the citizens of Russia today,”  it points out that it is equally difficult to say what Russian forces are doing in Syria now besides taking losses ( reproduced at

            “Russian society doesn’t know anything” about what is going on or what the prospects are for the future, the Telegram channel says.  “Judging from the fact that Putin has decided to keep two Russian bases in Syria … our country is tied down in Syria if not forever than for an indefinitely long time.”

            “The Syrian war, just like the war against Ukraine in the south of this country, long ago was transformed into ‘a gray zone.’ This transformation typically takes place without much thought by one of the sides of the conflicts.  That was the case with the Afghanistan war for the USSR; the same thing is now occurring in the east of Ukraine,” SerpomPo continues.

            “Goals have been lost; there is no meaning, but there is a war and one without any end.”

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