You see a smile in the East. It's from Putin | Opinion
Those who have looked towards Eastern Europe this week will have caught a smile, the kind that shows their teeth. They were Putin's.
Without lifting a finger, a lot of good news has accumulated. Poland has announced the suspension of military support to Ukraine, due to a dispute over agricultural exports. There will soon be elections in Poland, and the ruling PiS has long shown that it puts its own electoral interests above almost everything, including democratic quality and, now, the vital needs of a fight against authoritarian aggression. Warsaw has been generous in welcoming refugees and providing military support to kyiv, but come the polls and everything takes a backseat.
From Washington, the postman has also brought good news to Putin. A good handful of Republicans are blocking the new aid package for Ukraine worth $24 billion promoted by the Biden Administration.
Other good vibes for Moscow come from Asia. The Chinese regime has received with honors Putin's close ally Bashar al Assad, leader of Syria, shortly after Putin himself received a visit from Kim Jong-un, leader of North Korea. The latter expressed his willingness to supply weapons for the Russian war effort. For its part, this Friday, Iran, which also supports Russia militarily, unveiled at a stop what it defines as the world's longest-range drone. He maintains that he can fly 2,000 kilometers for 24 hours straight. Who knows if it will soon end up in Russian arsenals, like other models. The authoritarian international seems to be fine-tuning like the Berlin Philharmonic.
For his part, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, president of NATO ally Turkey, said this week on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly that he “does not share” the “negative attitudes” toward Putin expressed by others.
A study by the Swiss National Bank published this Friday analyzes the effects of the war on European economies and concludes that the worst is yet to come: “The negative consequences of the war will probably be much greater in the medium-long term, especially in relationship with the real economy.
Meanwhile, Russian troops resist the Ukrainian counteroffensive and the defense industry shows signs of having managed to reorganize to sustain the effort.
Naturally, this does not mean that it is all good news for the Kremlin. The worst ones also abound. Moscow has had to cut gasoline and diesel exports due to serious internal imbalances; Ukrainian missile hit Russian naval headquarters in Crimea; The Russian Central Bank had to raise rates last Friday to support a collapsing ruble and cool galloping inflation; Western countries seem close to a mechanism to sanction Russian diamonds. Russia faces problems of all kinds.
But, for that very reason, the good news from abroad, especially the self-inflicted damage on the opposing side for short-sighted partisan reasons, will have caused a good smile. The epidemic of nationalism, populism and partisanship hooliganesque that corrodes large areas of the West is the great risk for democracies, including European ones, much more than the external threat from authoritarian regimes. Thus, while we face historic challenges, we are losing our strength in matters of tons of grain and a handful of more votes. On the other side, it's time to see Putin's teeth. Do you like them?
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