Very interesting points! I would add that perhaps there are a long term and a short term perspective. Long term, and very briefly ( I wrote about it with Anna Zafesova on La Stampa a few years back) Russia lives off oil and nuclear power as with the czars was living off grain outputs and a large field army. All is in the hands of a few oligarchs as before it was in the hands of a few princes. Putin brushed up the old Czarist model, where also Russia is projected in Asia but really weighs in Europe.
This model failed once with the czars – it is failing again. Russia needs to develop real entrepreneurs, a real middle class and real innovative companies to catch up with its future, and cut off this czarist history.
Short term, Ukraine is one issue, Georgia is another, tomorrow support for Iran or North Korea could be more sensitive? If Putin is playing chess why should he stop at Ukraine? Then to make him stop should we restart a cold war? or what?
Russia’s future could be the one it had for centuries before the 17th century, when it moved into Europe really and shook off the Mongol yoke – a land bridge between the two sides of Eurasia, minus the Mongol yoke. This could be the future for Russia and for Eurasia. To achieve this, a positive outcome for Russia, U.S. might want to coordinate more closely with Germany and China, which are interested in developing a new land route through Eurasia.
Without this coordination and without a long term plan for Russia’s economy, I’m afraid we are going to see either more disturbances around Russia’s borders (including the Middle East, where it all started, with Syria) or a collapse of Russia – something that would expand an area of instability in Asia and Europe.

Francesco Sisci

Francesco Sisci is an Italian sinologist, author and columnist who lives and works in Beijing. He works for the Catholic research center

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