Moscow, Sep 27 (IANS/RIA Novosti) President Vladimir Putin is striving to re-establish Russia as a regional hegemony and the West has been too slow to recognise that and react to the strategy, according to Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg.
“We are not going back to Stalin, we are going back to [Russian Tsar] Nicholas I,” Schwarzenberg told The Cable blog of the US magazine Foreign Policy.
“It was under Nicholas I that the greater part of Central Asia was conquered by the Russians and Putin is quite successfully getting them under the control of Russia again, and the West is losing.”
The West must admit that Putin has installed an aggressive autocracy and it must deal with it, the minister said.
Schwarzenberg said Putin was now reacting to the increasing unrest inside Russia by isolating Russia from the influence of western society, for example by shutting down the US Agency for International Development’s mission in Moscow (USAID).
“By kicking it out, he indicated what he considers most dangerous for his autocracy,” Schwarzenberg said.
“He is now afraid to meet the people and that indicates that he realises the opposition exists and that it has become a force in Russian society,” Schwarzenberg added.