Putin: Superhero or pragmatist pursuing interests?
We have apparently all recently become “Putin fans.” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has met him seven times in just one year. We have almost learnt by heart the way he walks, how he rides a horse, how he hunts in the wild, and the details of his private life. We treat him as a “charismatic savior” and a “superhero” for lifting the embargo against Turkey, which he imposed after Turkish Air Forces shot down a Russian jet back in 2015.
If, in the near future, I hear the sentence “Putin is with us, we are safe,” I won’t be surprised.
He has almost come to be seen as a “super hero.” So much so that when I evaluated his crowded schedule regarding the Jerusalem crisis, triggered when U.S. President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, I found myself wondering: “If Putin wants to become a part of it, progress could be achieved on the Jerusalem issue. The only person who can prevent this incident is Putin.”
He is pursuing his interests, just like Trump
I saw the situation differently when I looked at the backstage of his Dec. 11 visits to three countries: Egypt, Syria and Turkey. Putin simply brushed away Jerusalem questions by merely repeating Russia’s official line.
Remember this: The day Trump came to power, he exacerbated the diplomatic crisis and later sold weapons to countries in crisis or those under threat. During the Saudi Arabia-Qatar crisis, he made a $13 billion sale to Qatar and a $300 billion sale to Saudi Arabia.
He also offered to sell weapons to Japan and South Korea with the words: “North Korea is threatening you with rockets and nuclear weapons.”
Will Putin remain behind Trump? He is doing so for Russian interests. One example is Russia’s visit to Egypt. From our point of view, the first item on the agenda should have been the Jerusalem crisis, but for Putin it was closing a deal on the El Dabaa Nuclear Power Plant between Moscow and Cairo, for which talks began in 2015.
Putin’s visit to Damascus, Syria, which has now mostly been cleared of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), was to focus on “applying lasting peace” and on the period of “rebuilding.”
Rebuilding Syria after a five-year civil war, with a focus on Aleppo and other Syrian cities left in ruins, could appeal to many countries. But Putin, who has met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Sochi and then again in Damascus, has made it clear Russia wants “a slice of the cake.”
When Putin came to Ankara we focused on Jerusalem, but Putin was more interested in closing the deal on the S-400 missile-system.
Meanwhile, an interesting detail regarding Putin’s visit to Cairo caught my attention. The nuclear power plant to be built by the Russian company Rosatom in the northern Egyptian city of Dabaa and the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant in Turkey are almost identical. They both contain 1200 MW units for the four reactors, which are third generation VVER-1200 model units.