Strategic Countdown and Russia's Escalating Instability

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Baev, Pavel K. (2009) Strategic Countdown and Russia's Escalating Instability, Eurasia Daily Monitor. 30 November.

Seeking to give substance to the idea of a “reset” in US-Russian relations, the two leaders committed last July to the “joint understanding” for a START follow-on treaty, thus setting an extra-hard task and ultra-tight schedule for the working group laboring in Geneva.

This triumph of de-nuclearization would, nevertheless, be no more helpful for Russia in addressing its real security risks than the START I was for the USSR, which spectacularly fell apart only a few months after the signing ceremony. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin had to answer some sharp questions during a business trip to France, but claimed unfamiliarity with the Magnitsky case, while comparing the shameful trial of Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev with the conviction of Bernard Madoff for fraud. This parallel is clearly false, but Putin’s own system of power distinctly resembles a financial pyramid where the top crooks extract vast profits by cheating a great number of naive stakeholders; the moment of meltdown is hard to predict – but the collapse is typically very fast.

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