Foreign policy of Vladimir Putin
The foreign policy of Vladimir Putin concerns the policy initiatives made towards other states during his tenure as President of Russia. Putin's foreign policy may be roughly divided between those concerning Russo-Occidental relations and those concerning Russian relations with other states.
Relations with the West 
Vladimir Putin has often been publicly critical of the foreign policies of the United States and other Western countries. Generally speaking, he has publicly stated his suspicion of the motives behind NATO expansion, objected to the planned US Missile Defense system, and engaged in both positive and acrimonious dialogue with members of the European Union. Some commentators have linked this increase in hostility towards the West with the global rise in oil prices.
While Putin is often characterised as an autocrat by the Western media and some politicians, his relationship with former U.S. President George W. Bush, former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, former French President Jacques Chirac, and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi are reported to be personally friendly. Putin's relationship with Germany's new Chancellor, Angela Merkel, is reported to be "cooler" and "more business-like" than his partnership with Gerhard Schröder.
British historian Max Hastings described Putin as "Stalin's spiritual heir" in his article "Will we have to fight Russia in this Century?". British academic Norman Stone in his article "No wonder they like Putin" compared Putin to General Charles de Gaulle. Adi Ignatius argues that "Putin... is not a Stalin. There are no mass purges in Russia today, no broad climate of terror. But Putin is reconstituting a strong state, and anyone who stands in his way will pay for it." In the same article, Hastings continues that although "a return to the direct military confrontation of the Cold War is unlikely", "the notion of Western friendship with Russia is a dead letter".
Relations with the United States 
Putin's policies towards the United States in particular, since they represent a resurgence of Russian nationalism, prestige, and active influence in world affairs, frequently stoked fears of a second Cold War. Nonetheless, relations between the two powers during Putin's Presidency were marked by prickly-but-cordial relations, punctuated by both cooperations and disagreements.
In February 2007, at the annual Munich Conference on Security Policy, he criticised what he calls the United States' monopolistic dominance in global relations, and pointed out that the United States displayed an "almost uncontained hyper use of force in international relations". He said the result of it is that "no one feels safe! Because no one can feel that international law is like a stone wall that will protect them. Of course such a policy stimulates an arms race."
Both Russian and American officials have denied the idea of a new Cold War. The US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said on the Munich Conference: "We all face many common problems and challenges that must be addressed in partnership with other countries, including Russia. ... One Cold War was quite enough." Vladimir Putin said prior to 33rd G8 Summit, on June 4: "we do not want confrontation; we want to engage in dialogue. However, we want a dialogue that acknowledges the equality of both parties’ interests."
Opposition to the Iraq War 
During the Iraq crisis of 2003, Putin opposed Washington's move to invade Iraq without the benefit of a United Nations Security Council resolution explicitly authorizing the use of military force. After the official end of the war was announced, American president George W. Bush asked the United Nations to lift sanctions on Iraq. Putin supported lifting of the sanctions in due course, arguing that the UN commission first be given a chance to complete its work on the search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
Resumption of long-range patrol flights 
Following the Peace Mission 2007 military exercises jointly conducted by the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation member states, Putin announced on 17 August 2007 the resumption on a permanent basis of long-distance patrol flights of The Russian Air Force Tu-95 and Tu-160 strategic bombers that had been suspended since 1992. US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack was quoted as saying in response that "if Russia feels as though they want to take some of these old aircraft out of mothballs and get them flying again, that's their decision." The announcement made during the SCO summit in the light of joint Russian-Chinese military exercises, first-ever in history to be held on Russian territory, makes some believe that Putin is inclined to set up an anti-NATO bloc or the Asian version of OPEC. When presented with the suggestion that "Western observers are already likening the SCO to a military organisation that would stand in opposition to NATO", Putin answered that "this kind of comparison is inappropriate in both form and substance". Russian Chief of the General Staff Yury Baluyevsky was quoted as saying that "there should be no talk of creating a military or political alliance or union of any kind, because this would contradict the founding principles of SCO".
The resumption of long-distance flights of Russia's strategic bombers was followed by the announcement by Russian Defense Minister Anatoliy Serdyukov during his meeting with Putin on December 5, 2007, that 11 ships, including the aircraft carrier Kuznetsov, would take part in the first major navy sortie into the Mediterranean since Soviet times. The sortie was to be backed up by 47 aircraft, including strategic bombers. According to Serdyukov, this is an effort to resume regular Russian naval patrols on the world's oceans, the view that is also supported by Russian media. The military analyst from Novaya Gazeta Pavel Felgenhauer believes that the accident-prone Kuznetsov is scarcely seaworthy and is more of a menace to her crew than any putative enemy.
Relations with the European Union 
On October 26, 2007, at a press conference following the 20th Russia-EU Summit in Portugal, Putin proposed creating a Russian-European Institute for Freedom and Democracy headquartered either in Brussels or in one of the European capitals, and added that "we are ready to supply funds for financing it, just as Europe covers the costs of projects in Russia". This newly proposed institution is expected to monitor human rights violations in Europe and contribute to development of European democracy.
Vladimir Putin strongly opposes secession of Kosovo from Serbia. He called any support for this act "immoral" and "illegal". He described Kosovo's declaration of independence a 'terrible precedent' that will come back to hit the West 'in the face'. He stated that Kosovo precedent will de facto destroy the whole system of international relations, developed not over decades, but over centuries.
Robert Kagan, reflecting on what underlay the fundamental rift between Putin's Russia and the EU wrote in February 2008: " Europe's nightmares are the 1930s; Russia's nightmares are the 1990s. Europe sees the answer to its problems in transcending the nation-state and power. For Russians, the solution is in restoring them. So what happens when a 21st-century entity faces the challenge of a 19th-century power? The contours of the conflict are already emerging—in diplomatic stand-offs over Kosovo, Ukraine, Georgia and Estonia; in conflicts over gas and oil pipelines; in nasty diplomatic exchanges between Russia and Britain; and in a return to Russian military exercises of a kind not seen since the Cold War. Europeans are apprehensive, with good reason."
Relations with the United Kingdom 
Litvinenko poisoning incident 
The end of 2006 brought strained relations between Russia and Britain in the wake of the death of a former FSB officer in London by poisoning. On July 20, 2007 UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown expelled "four Russian envoys over Putin's refusal to extradite ex-KGB agent Andrei Lugovoi, wanted in the UK for the murder of fellow former spy Alexander Litvinenko in London." The Russian constitution prohibits the extradition of Russian nationals to third countries. British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said that "this situation is not unique, and other countries have amended their constitutions, for example to give effect to the European Arrest Warrant".
Miliband's statement was widely publicized by Russian media as a British proposal to change the Russian constitution. According to VCIOM, 62% of Russians are against changing the Constitution in this respect. The British Ambassador in Moscow Tony Brenton said that the UK is not asking Russia to break its Constitution, but rather interpret it in such a way that would make Lugovoi's extradition possible. At a meeting with Russian youth organisations, Putin stated that the United Kingdom was acting like a colonial power with a mindset stuck in the 19th or 20th centuries, due to their belief that Russia could change its constitution. He also stated, "They say we should change our Constitution – advice that I view as insulting for our country and our people. They need to change their thinking and not tell us to change our Constitution."
When Litvinenko was dying from radiation poisoning, he allegedly accused Putin of directing the assassination in a statement which was released shortly after his death by his friend Alex Goldfarb. Critics have doubted that Litvinenko is the true author of the released statement. When asked about the Litvinenko accusations, Putin said that a statement released after death of its author "naturally deserves no comment".
The expulsions were seen as "the biggest rift since the countries expelled each other's diplomats in 1996 after a spying dispute." In response to the situation, Putin stated "I think we will overcome this mini-crisis. Russian-British relations will develop normally. On both the Russian side and the British side, we are interested in the development of those relations." Despite this, British Ambassador Tony Brenton was told by the Russian Foreign Ministry that UK diplomats would be given 10 days before they were expelled in response. The Russian government also announced that it would suspend issuing visas to UK officials and froze cooperation on counterterrorism in response to Britain suspending contacts with their Federal Security Service.
Alexander Shokhin, president of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs warned that British investors in Russia will "face greater scrutiny from tax and regulatory authorities. [And] They could also lose out in government tenders". Some see the crisis as originating with Britain's decision to grant Putin's former patron, Russian billionaire Boris Berezovsky, political asylum in 2003. Earlier in 2007, Berezovsky had called for the overthrow of Putin.
On December 10, 2007, Russia ordered the British Council to halt work at its regional offices in what was seen as the latest round of a dispute over the murder of Alexander Litvinenko; Britain said Russia's move was illegal.
Relations with NATO 
In his annual address to the Federal Assembly on April 26, 2007, Putin announced plans to declare a moratorium on the observance of the CFE Treaty by Russia until all NATO members ratified it and started observing its provisions, as Russia had been doing on a unilateral basis. Putin argues that as new NATO members have not even signed the treaty so far, an imbalance in the presence of NATO and Russian armed forces in Europe creates a real threat and an unpredictable situation for Russia. NATO members said they would refuse to ratify the treaty until Russia complied with its 1999 commitments made in Istanbul whereby Russia should remove troops and military equipment from Moldova and Georgia. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was quoted as saying in response that "Russia has long since fulfilled all its Istanbul obligations relevant to CFE". Russia has suspended its participation in the CFE as of midnight Moscow time on December 11, 2007. On December 12, 2007, the United States officially said it "deeply regretted the Russian Federation's decision to 'suspend' implementation of its obligations under the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE)." State Department spokesman Sean McCormack, in a written statement, added that "Russia's conventional forces are the largest on the European continent, and its unilateral action damages this successful arms control regime." NATO's primary concern arising from Russia's suspension is that Moscow could now accelerate its military presence in the Northern Caucasus.
The months following Putin's Munich speech were marked by tension and a surge in rhetoric on both sides of the Atlantic. So, Vladimir Putin said at the anniversary of the Victory Day, "these threats are not becoming fewer but are only transforming and changing their appearance. These new threats, just as under the Third Reich, show the same contempt for human life and the same aspiration to establish an exclusive dictate over the world." This was interpreted by some Russian and Western commentators as comparing the U.S. to Nazi Germany. On the eve of the 33rd Summit of the G8 in Heiligendamm, American journalist Anne Applebaum, who is married to a Polish politician, wrote that "Whether by waging cyberwarfare on Estonia, threatening the gas supplies of Lithuania, or boycotting Georgian wine and Polish meat, he [Putin] has, over the past few years, made it clear that he intends to reassert Russian influence in the former communist states of Europe, whether those states want Russian influence or not. At the same time, he has also made it clear that he no longer sees Western nations as mere benign trading partners, but rather as Cold War-style threats."
Objections to US Missile Defense Plans 
In a June 4, 2007, interview to journalists of G8 countries, when answering the question of whether Russian nuclear forces may be focused on European targets in case "the United States continues building a strategic shield in Poland and the Czech Republic", Putin admitted that "if part of the United States’ nuclear capability is situated in Europe and that our military experts consider that they represent a potential threat then we will have to take appropriate retaliatory steps. What steps? Of course we must have new targets in Europe."
Putin has continued his public opposition of a U.S. missile shield in Europe, and presented President George W. Bush with a counterproposal on June 7, 2007 of sharing the use of the Soviet-era radar system in Azerbaijan rather than building a new system in the Czech Republic. Putin expressed readiness to modernize the Gabala radar station, which has been in operation since 1986. Putin proposed it would not be necessary to place interceptor missiles in Poland then, but interceptors could be placed in NATO member Turkey or Iraq. Putin suggested also equal involvement of interested European countries in the project.
Relations with Former Soviet and Eastern Bloc Republics 
Putin, in his relations with Russo-centric neighbor and former Soviet Republic Belarus, continued the general trend towards closer bi-lateral ties between the two countries, which has thus far stopped short of extending the depth of the Union of Russia and Belarus proposed and speculated by many media outlets both inside and outside Russia.
During the 2004 Ukrainian presidential election, Putin twice visited Ukraine before the election to show his support for Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, who was widely seen as a pro-Kremlin candidate, and he congratulated him on his anticipated victory before the official election returns had been in. Putin's personal support for Yanukovych was criticized as unwarranted interference in the affairs of a sovereign state (See also The Orange revolution).
According to a document uncovered during the United States diplomatic cables leak Putin “implicitly challenged" the territorial integrity of Ukraine at the April 4, 2008, NATO-Russia Council Summit in Bucharest, Romania.
Putin has expressed Anti-Polish sentiment typical of many Russians, the expression of opinions like this are credited as 'down to earth' by Russian media. He met with Polish leader Donald Tusk four times: in Moscow (February 2008), in Davos (February 2009) in Sopot (September 2009 - joint attended the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of World War II) and in Katyn (April 2010 - joint participation in the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the Katyn massacre).
Georgia and Moldova 
Crises have also developed in Russia's relations with Georgia and Moldova, both former Soviet republics accusing Moscow of supporting separatist entities in their territories. Moscow's policies under Putin towards these states are viewed by politicians in the West[who?] as "efforts to bully democratic neighbors". According to the French government, at a meeting on August 12, 2008, Putin intended to depose the Georgian president and declared: "I am going to hang Saakashvili by the balls."
Relations within the United Nations 
Arms Control & Nuclear Non-Proliferation 
He called for a "fair and democratic world order that would ensure security and prosperity not only for a select few, but for all". He proposed certain initiatives such as establishing international centres for the enrichment of uranium and prevention of deploying weapons in outer space. In his January 2007 interview Putin said Russia is in favour of a democratic multipolar world and of strengthening the system of international law.
In September 2007, Putin visited Indonesia and in doing so became the first Russian leader to visit the country in more than 50 years. In the same month, Putin also attended the APEC meeting held in Sydney, Australia where he met with Australian Prime Minister John Howard and signed a uranium trade deal. This was the first visit of a Russian president to Australia.
On October 16, 2007 Putin visited Tehran, Iran to participate in the Second Caspian Summit, where he met with Iranian leader . Other participants were leaders of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan. This is the first visit of a Russian leader to Iran since Joseph Stalin's participation in the Tehran Conference in 1943. At a press conference after the summit Putin said that "all our (Caspian) states have the right to develop their peaceful nuclear programmes without any restrictions". During the summit it was also agreed that its participants, under no circumstances, would let any third-party state use their territory as a base for aggression or military action against any other participant.
References and notes 
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- Kagan, Robert (2004-09-15). "Stand Up to Putin". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2010-08-02.
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- Simpson, Emma (2006-01-16). "Merkel cools Berlin Moscow ties". BBC News. Retrieved 2010-08-02.
- Hastings, Max (2007-06-05). "A blundering Bush, Tsar Putin, and the question: will we, in this century, have to fight Russia?". Mail Online. Retrieved 2010-08-02.
- Stone, Norman (2007-12-04). "No wonder they like Putin". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 2010-08-02.
- Ignatius, Adi (2007-12-19). "A Tsar Is Born - Person of the Year 2007". Time. Retrieved 2010-08-02.
- "Speech and the Following Discussion at the Munich Conference on Security Policy". Presidential Administration of Russia. 2007-02-10. Retrieved 2010-08-02.
- "Munich Conference on Security Policy: As Delivered by Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, Munich, Germany, Sunday, February 11, 2007". United States Department of Defense. 2007-02-11. Retrieved 2010-08-02.
- "Interview with Newspaper Journalists from G8 Member Countries". Presidential Administration of Russia. 2007-06-04. Retrieved 2010-08-02.
- "Press Statement and Responses to Media Questions following the Peace Mission 2007 Counterterrorism Exercises and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Summit". Presidential Administration of Russia. 2007-08-17. Retrieved 2010-08-02.
- "Russia restores Soviet-era strategic bomber patrols". RiaNovosti. 2007-08-17. Retrieved 2010-08-02.
- SCO Scares NATO, August 8, 2007, KM.ru
- Russia Over Three Oceans, August 20, 2007, "Chas", Latvia
- Beginning of Meeting with Defense Minister Anatoliy Serdyukov, December 5, 2007, Kremlin.ru
- Guy Faulconbridge. Russian navy to start sorties in Mediterranean Reuters December 5, 2007.
- Russia's Navy Has Resumed Presence in World Ocean Vzglyad.ru (Russian) December 5, 2007.
- Павел Фельгенгауэр. Семь честных слов под килем Novaya Gazeta № 95 December 13, 2007.
- Press Statement and Answers to Questions following the 20th Russia-European Union Summit, October 26, 2007, Mafra, Portugal, Kremlin.ru
- Russia Will Finance European Democracy, October 29, 2007, Izvestia.ru
- "Putin: supports for Kosovo unilateral independence "immoral, illegal"". Xinhua. 2008-02-14. Retrieved 2008-02-25.
- "Putin: Kosovo case terrible precedent". Press TV. 2008-02-22. Retrieved 2008-02-25.
- "EU's Solana rejects Putin's criticism over Kosovo's independence". IRNA. 2008-02-23. Retrieved 2008-02-25.
- New Europe, Old Russia. By Robert Kagan The Washington Post February 6, 2008.
- Gonzalo Vina and Sebastian Alison (July 20, 2007). "Brown Defends Russian Expulsions, Decries Killings". Bloomberg News.
- David Miliband's oral statement to the Commons on the Litvinenko case, July 16, 2007
- Lugovoi Has Disclosed Next Martyr, August 29, 2007
- London Proposes to Moscow Changing Constitution, July 17, 2007
- John Lennon on Russian Constitution, August 17, 2007
- VCIOM: Russians Oppose Lugovoi Extradition to Brits (Russian) at the Wayback Machine (archived August 23, 2007)
- British Ambassador Suggests Russia Interprets Its Constitution In New Ways, Gorod.lv, July 23, 2007
- Putin Lashes Out at Nashi Gathering by David Nowak, The St. Petersburg Times, Issue #1292 (58), 2007-07-27.
- "Выдержки из стенографического отчета о встрече с представителями молодежных организаций России". Zavidovo, Tver Oblast: President of Russia. 24 July 2007. Retrieved 2008-12-28. English translation
- In full: Litvinenko statement, BBC News, November 24, 2006
- Soviet Moonwalker is Guilty for Litvinenko Death? Strange Litvinenko Last Will, Izvestia, November 27, 2006
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- Joint Press Conference after Russia-EU Summit, Helsinki, Finland, November 24, 2006
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- Annual Address to the Federal Assembly, April 26, 2007, Kremlin, Moscow
- Lavrov Announced Conditions of Resuming CFE Observance, December 3, 2007, Izvestia.ru
- "Russia walks away from CFE arms treaty". AFP via Yahoo! News. December 12, 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-13.[dead link]
- "Russia Suspends Participation In CFE Treaty". Radio Liberty. December 12, 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-13.
- "US 'deeply regrets' Russia's 'wrong' decision on CFE". AFP. December 12, 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-13.
- "Putin poised to freeze arms pact as assertiveness grows". Financial Times. December 12, 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-13.
- Speech at the Military Parade Celebrating the 62nd Anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War, Red Square, Moscow, May 9, 2007
- Putin is playing a dangerous game By Anne Applebaum, 05/06/2007
- Doug Sanders, "Putin threatens to target Europe with missiles", The Globe and Mail, June 2, 2007
- Asymmetrical Iskander missile systems, RIA Novosti, November 15, 2007
- Press Conference following the end of the G8 Summit, June 8, 2007
- http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/1210/p01s02-woeu.html "Putin eyes full merger with Belarus", December 10, 2007
- After Russian invasion of Georgia, Putin's words stir fears about Ukraine. Kyiv Post (November 30, 2010)
- McCain, John (November/December 2007, Vol 86, Number 6). "An Enduring Peace Built on Freedom // Revitalizing the Transatlantic Partnership". Foreign Affairs. Council on Foreign Relations. Retrieved 2008-02-06.
- Bremner, Charles (November 14, 2008). "Vladimir Putin 'wanted to hang Georgian President Saakashvili by the balls'". London: The Times. Retrieved May 2, 2010.
- Interview for Indian Television Channel Doordarshan and Press Trust of India News Agency, January 18, 2007.
- Russia Courts Indonesia
- Putin: Iran Has Right to Develop Peaceful Nuclear Programme, October 16, 2007, Rbc.ru
- "Putin's warning to the U.S.". Reuters. October 16, 2007.
- Putin Positive on Second Caspian Summit Results, Meets With Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, October 16, 2007, Kremlin.ru
- Visit to Iran. Second Caspian Summit, October 15–16, 2007, Kremlin.ru
- Vladimir Putin defies assassination threats to make historic visit to Tehran, October 16, 2007, The Times (In Russian)
- Vladimir Putin defies assassination threats to make historic visit to Tehran, October 16, 2007, The Times (In English)
- Answer to a Question at the Joint Press Conference Following the Second Caspian Summit, October 16, 2007, Tehran, Kremlin.ru