È la domanda che Judy Dempsey pone ad alcuni esperti di politica internazionale per la rubrica Judy Ask di Carnegie Europe: rispondono Carl BildtFederiga BindiThomas de WaalStefan MeisterMarc PieriniElizabeth PondGianni RiottaJames Rogers, Gwendolyn Sasse, James SherrStephen SzaboPierre Vimont.

Il commento di Gianni Riotta:

Yes, and with a vengeance.

Russian President Vladimir Putin may be a mediocre strategist and lack what former U.S. secretary of state Henry Kissinger calls a “grand strategy,” but when it comes to tactics, he has no rival in the West. Despite the slump in oil prices, Putin bullied Europe and America in Crimea, sending a chilling message to the old capitals of the Soviet empire from the Baltics to Warsaw.

Then, he reinforced Russia’s naval base in the Syrian city of Latakia and established a serious military bridgehead. The Russian air force will soon follow. In a single stroke, Putin emboldened his puppet, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, sidelined Europe, and showed Iran who is boss.

French President François Hollande’s late entry into the war was isolated and not planned with other EU leaders—a postmodernist act of grandeur that made things even worse. Now, Putin is calling the shots in Syria, and U.S. President Barack Obama will try to salvage what he can in their next meeting.

Putin’s gamble will not last. Eventually, China, the United States, and a fast-moving world will see all of his well-crafted bluffs. Right now, he huffs and puffs. All the pundits keep harrumphing “Engage Putin!” They are wrong. Putin will never be engaged in a positive way. He is the world’s punk, happy to break windows and spray-paint graffiti just to annoy the local bobby. He wants to survive and be feared. You do not engage his kind; you just try to reign him in and avoid too much trouble in the hood.