Islamabad - The ex-KGB intelligence officer, a retired lieutenant colonel and former director of Federal Security Service of Russia (FSB) is currently serving as the 4th President of Russian Federation.

For many Western politicians and analysts, Vladimir Putin has been a dictator and a totalitarian ruler. But the opinion of ordinary Russian people is entirely different from that. After President Boris Yeltsin, Putin became the 2nd President of Russia and from May 2000 until now it is very much evident that Russia has perhaps again moved towards the status of global power.

The disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991 brought Russia into the abyss of darkness and humiliation. It was a huge success for the NATO and the Western bloc that the Cold War resulted in their desired logical results.

It was perceived by many that now the world will be at peace. Putin has practically proved both of them wrong by adopting the standards of “Realpolitik” as a guiding principle in his foreign policy decisions. It seems pretty obvious that John Mearsheimer’s article titled as “why we will soon miss the cold war” was right in his approach that the Cold War was the longest peace period in the history. Putin’s decision to annexe Crimea in 2014 exhibits his motivation to restore Russian pride and identity in the world. The alignment of Putin with Iran and Venezuela can be taken as an example.

The ongoing Syrian crisis clearly shows that Putin is not going to step back, and no decision can be held without taking Russian interests into account. Putin realises the importance of Turkey, and he is moving towards it. The shooting down of a Russian aeroplane by Turkish Air Force was a serious incident, but Turkish rightist government is steadily moving away from the Western influence after the failed coup in July this year. The recent visit of President Erdogan to Moscow has raised serious questions about Turkey’s membership in NATO.

The policies of Vladimir Putin are open for criticism, but they are very much reactionary in their nature and execution.  He has resurrected Russia and playing very smartly. Though the assassination of opposition leader Boris Nemstov in February 2015 sparked speculations of the West about Putin’s involvement in the incident, yet no evidence has ever been found.

The poisoning and subsequent death of KGB’s Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Litvinenko in London has also been connected to Putin by British authorities.

The Indian activities in the South China Sea are hurting the interests of Russia and China, and Vladimir Putin seems disappointed about the growing relations of India with the US and the West. This has resulted in an increased importance of Pakistan in the eyes of Russia. Putin, who was not much in favour of Pakistan due to its leading role against the Soviet Union during the Cold War, has now realised the determination of Islamabad to eradicate terrorism.

Russian policies are changing towards Pakistan, and there was a time when they refused their jet engine RD-93 to be used on JF-17 Thunder aircraft. Now they are also willing to offer their latest gunship helicopters to Pakistan. Moscow and Islamabad in the changing world order can come closer. Putin has shown interest in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and it will benefit Moscow as well. Realpolitik is the only viable guiding principle in the foreign policy decision-making of any state. Putin and his policies are no exemption.

—The writer is a freelance

columnist and holds a masters

degree in political science.

mouhammad ali baig