Responding to the Putin Doctrine
by Ethan S. Burger*
(original to La Russophobe, all rights reserved by Professor Burger)
In its Communiqué following its Emergency Summit on Georgia, the European Union took little significant action except announcing that it would “postpone” entering into a long-term partnership until Russia withdrew its troops from Georgia. While expressing its concern about Russia’s “disproportionate” use of force against its neighbor, the EU sought to maintain a dialog with Russia (or more precisely, its current leadership). It is most unfortunate that the EU leaders underestimate their countries’ long-term “soft” power.
Russia’s invasion and partial dismemberment of Georgia violates international law, even if Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvilli foolishly provided the Kremlin with a pretext by seeking to assert control over South Ossetia. The Russian leadership has issued a challenge to the EU and NATO members, one that can now be characterized as “the Putin doctrine.” The West in turn must come to appreciate that the appropriate responses are not merely issuing condemnations or increasing defense spending (with the notable exceptions of that needed to combat “cyber attacks”); more creative approaches must be pursued.