KARACHI: Russia under Vladimir Putin now has over one million highly-educated individuals, including first-class scientists and technicians, and nobody can stop Mr Putin from marching towards victory in the March 18 presidential election.
These views were expressed by research scholar Dr Bettina Robotka at a workshop titled ‘Russia and the changing dynamics of geopolitics’ organised by the University of Karachi’s Area Study Centre for Europe (ASCE) on Wednesday.
Dr Robotka, who used to teach at a university in Berlin, said these educated people gave Russia social, economic, political and military strength.
“Putin played the part of Russia’s saviour and it is predicted that he will secure five to six times more votes this time,” she added.
Experts see rising Russia moving towards success
“When in 1991 Soviet Union collapsed and the world became unipolar, we thought the country was over, but it re-emerged with the passage of time. Serious thinking was done from 1991 to 2000 to discover Russia’s new identity. That identity-building process is still going on.
“Everyday life in Russia was not easy and the residents were asking the government to put things right when Putin came to power. He is now spending about $49 billion a year on security and is not only fighting terrorism at home, but also in Chechnya and other countries. Syria is the current battlefield for both Russia and the US.
“The American media is accusing Russia of influencing the US presidential election which Donald Trump won.”
Talking about Russia’s capitalism, the scholar said, “Communism is now over in Russia, which did not meet the desires and demands of the people. It is superseded by capitalism but this capitalism is different from the West’s. It is being run by the state.”
Former foreign secretary Najmuddin Shaikh said Islamabad and Moscow were hand in hand when it came to battling terrorism. During Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif’s recent visit to Russia, his counterpart Sergey Lavrov offered him full cooperation to eliminate the menace.
“They do take interest in Pakistan as the Pakistan Steel and various power plants were set up in the country by them. They also want to see IS, Al Qaeda and Taliban eliminated from Afghanistan,” he added.
“In my view, the best man for Afghanistan is Zamir Kabulov. He is a high-ranking career diplomat and Russian president’s envoy to Afghanistan. He knows Afghanistan better than anybody else and knows how to control terrorist-related activities there,” said Mr Shaikh, who served as Pakistan’s ambassador in the United States, Canada, West Germany and Iran.
“Putin is running Russia successfully. On one hand he presides over mosque openings and on the other, launches offensives in regions like Chechnya. He even threatened the US that Russia will overshadow it if it expands its nuclear arsenal.”
Former ambassador Shahid Amin said US President Trump’s liking for Putin could establish peace in the world.
“It is said Trump met Russians in Dubai some time in 2004 and has developed good relations with them since then. Trump’s policy towards Russia looks different from the policy of the US. He can reach out to Russia and there is no person better than him for the job.
“Common approach by the US and Russia will not only secure peace in Syria, but will go a long way in bringing peace internationally,” he added.
“There had always been misery and lack of clarity about Russia. Winston Churchill once said one has to understand where Russia’s national interests lie in order to understand the country. I think today’s Russia is much different from the USSR. It is rising and will keep rising,” believed Mr Amin, who had been ambassador to Libya, France, Nigeria and the USSR.
“Putin has strong personality and he uses it along with Russian belief of nationalism, which is very strong, to affect national and international politics. We can observe that he has no strategic interest in Syria, but he is asserting himself.
“The country has established democracy over the years. Though it does not match the Western standards, it fulfils the desires of its people. The country now has parliament and the media. With time, the country will move towards liberalisation,” he added.
“The Russian president terms the fall of USSR as the greatest tragedy of the 20th century and holds Mikhail Gorbachev responsible for it.”
About the EU’s neighbourhood policy, Mr Amin said, “It is aimed at stabilising countries on its western and eastern sides, and talks about promoting fundamental rights and democracy. Russia does not like it because it feels it is affecting its interests in its fallen states.”
Dr Hina Khan and Muhammad Ahsan, who were faculty members, also read out their papers on the occasion.
Earlier, Dr Tasneem Sultana, the director of the ASCE, welcomed the speakers, guests, journalists and students.
Published in Dawn, March 15th, 2018