The CSTO summit in Moscow last Friday was perhaps the most important event in the 16 years of existence of this organization because the Russian leadership needed a much stronger show of support for its policy than it received a week prior from the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.
The logic of arguing against erecting “walls” and drawing “red lines” but for closing ranks against “others” is never straight, but Moscow’s diplomacy is energized by a remarkably strong conviction that Russia, despite making risky steps in a force majeure situation, is basically on the right course.
The guns of August so far have not caused any expansion of state interference in the economy or redistribution of resources towards national defense and military industry; to the contrary, both Medvedev and Putin are pledging to maintain the business-friendly course of “innovation” and insist that the ambitious social programs would not suffer from any Soviet-style “mobilization”. Indeed, every step in liberalizing domestic economic policy delivers a blow to Western readiness to punish Russia for its misbehavior. Attention-seeking politicians in Brussels might declare the end of “business-as-usual,” but the EU balancing on the brink of a potentially deep recession in fact needs “business-as-never-before.” The newly assertive Russia is firmly set to defend its “privileged interests,” but Medvedev’s interesting choice of adjective might indicate that he is ready to move on from the pointless arguments about “territorial integrity.”