Opinion

The Great Debate

Putin’s already paying dearly for Ukraine – and looks willing to sacrifice much more

Russia's President Vladimir Putin chairs a government meeting at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow

Russian President Vladimir Putin has adopted a “go it alone” approach throughout the Ukraine crisis and regularly describes his country as “independent” and nonaligned. But Moscow is not as isolated as Putin makes out. The fact that he cannot see this reality — or chooses to ignore it — has produced a series of decisions that has seriously undermined Russia’s global role.

For the past two decades, Moscow has viewed its foray into global institutions as a major success. It has increasingly integrated into the global economy.  Those achievements, however, now present Putin with a major dilemma.

In the aftermath of the Soviet Union’s collapse, Russia signed multiple treaties and joined numerous international organizations, including the Council of Europe, the G7 (which became the G8) and the World Trade Organization.

G8 countries leaders attend a working session at the Lough Erne golf resort where the G8 summit is taking place in EnniskillenWhether Russia understood the underlying obligations that accompanied its memberships is unclear. The ink was not yet dry on Russia’s accession to the WTO, for example, when Putin demanded that member countries be allowed to introduce protectionist measures during times of global insecurity.

Yet the consensus in Russia was that membership bought Russia a vital seat at the table and increased its influence in world affairs. In addition, the United States and the European Union generally believed that it was better to have Russia inside — as opposed to outside — the international system of global governance even if Russia did not meet all the prerequisites for full membership.

Yukos returns to haunt Russia

wwwreuterscomyukos– Jason Bush is a Reuters columnist. The views expressed are his own —

Former Yukos shareholders are set to sue Russia for up to $100 billion in damages after an international court ruled in their favour. Successful claims against a sovereign state are rare. But the case is embarrassing for Russia. If successful it could even lead to the confiscation of Russian assets.

The biggest problem for the former shareholders of the bankrupt oil group was proving that international courts had jurisdiction in the matter. But they have found an ingenious way to make their case, suing Russia under the Energy Charter Treaty, which protects investors in Russia’s energy sector. Russia signed this treaty, but never ratified it, creating ambiguity over whether it is actually binding.

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