Russia’s Putin said that the fall of the Soviet Union was a geopolitical disaster. He dedicated his life to reestablish the Russian sphere of influence in the territories off the former Soviet Union. During his extensive training as a KGB officer he had to become a master chess player. Few people are aware the Soviet training of intelligence leaders in the art of “chess-think.” One of the most secret moves these top officers learned was the “Jabowntski sacrifice” in which an unimportant chess piece is sacrificed to create an opportunity for a winning a major move elsewhere.
Putin used this move before as recently as in the Syrian crisis. As President Obama was attempting to convince Congress about the necessity of forceful interference in Syria including the famous “crossing the line”, Putin applying the chess sacrifice concept, sacrificed a meaningless piece to prevent an attack on Syria in September 2013. He jumped on the feeble suggestion of John Kerry that Syria could avoid a US attack if it hands over its chemical weapons.
He knew that the inept Obama group would jump on any apparent sign of success, fully knowing that it will never happen, but would give a success story to the struggling foreign policy of the US. Sure enough. As of yesterday the US announced that Syria can retain at least a dozen chemical weapons facilities that it was supposed to destroy by the end of June. Here is what the US State Dept. spokesman had to say: “Syria cannot be allowed to stall every attempt at resolution and continue to defy its obligations and this council by indefinitely keeping its former CW production facilities,” he added, warning that “there must be consequences” if Damascus continues to delay, although the administration has not specified what they would be. Note he said “must” and not “will.” The language of the paper tiger.
The whole process turned out to be a farce, but Putin achieved his goal. No US attack or involvement against his protegee Syria. He knows that the US negotiates from weakness. Putin believes that the United States is off-balance in the Islamic world and there is an opportunity here that he can create situations to which United States will be unable to respond. He believes that American national strategy is in crisis. He believes that the population is tired of war and the administration is generically opposed to the use of power to settle international disputes. It’s so old fashioned.
He sees a new reality by having proven that Western guarantees mean nothing. He feels he has nothing to lose. The more havoc he creates more oil prices will rise sustaining his economy. He is still furious about how the West orchestrated a coup in Kiev at the very moment he was achieving spectacularly successful Olympic Games in Sochi. The weakness of US leadership gives him the choice of either making truly calculated chess moves or simply sweep all the pieces off the board in a fit of seeming frustration or anger. The most logical move obviously is another “sacrifice.” Give something to the eager amateurs so they can declare victory, and extract a heavy price while achieving the real objective. Wait for a victory speech any minute now by Kerry or Obama. Then look at the price we paid.
There is, however, another scenario. Putin has surrounded himself by other former KGB officers. Perhaps one of them, or all of them decide to put an end to the unsuccessful attempts by Putin to get the economy going and the apparent limited accomplishments of his foreign policy. That’s what happened to Nikita Khrushchev and to Boris Yeltsin. They may put a new chess player in the game.