As Putin continues his unrelenting assault on Syria, the international community fears Russia is out of control and will answer to no one

 

Birthdays are a time of excitement and celebration for many people. We are congratulated on completing another year of our lives. We are often surrounded by friends and family and spend time reflecting on the past and looking to the future. Last week Vladimir Putin, the President of Russia, celebrated his birthday. For another year he seems to be celebrating a continuing policy of aggression on the international stage.

A hundred British troops have been sent to Latvia and Estonia this week, as well as twenty-five being sent to Ukraine, to continue with an existing training programme. This is one of the actions that has been taken in order to reassure members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) in the Baltic and Eastern European regions that they are being protected. This move has been necessitated by recent Russian aggression due to its involvement in the Syrian conflict, as well as claims made by Turkey that the Russians have been invading Turkish airspace. The fear is continuing from the ongoing threat of Russia’s aggressive foreign policy—something that was initially sparked by disruption in Ukraine, which began last year when Russian militia entered Crimea.

In early 2014, Russian militia entered Crimea. Following this, disruption in Ukraine escalated due to the increased action of separatists who wanted to separate from Ukraine and unite with Russia. The conflict resulted in scenes of violence and destruction between the Ukrainian military and pro-Russian separatists who were supported by the Russian military. International organisations tended to support Ukraine, viewing Russia as an aggressor. The United States of America and a number of members of the European Union imposed trade sanctions and a general stance of disapproval for Russia’s actions was revealed. Troops from the USA and EU member states were sent to protect surrounding nations, both with and independently of NATO. Despite this display of concern against Russia’s actions, the Russians refused to withdraw. This was a clear statement, an episode in which Russia showed a flagrant disregard for the authority of international peace-keeping forces.

As well as aggression in Crimea, Russia has been accused of conducting air strikes in Syria to support President Bashar al-Assad. NATO is urging Assad to stop attacking his own civilians. However, Russia is ignoring this advice and seems to be helping the loss of civilians to continue. This concern is even more pressing because it appears that some of the attacks have been aimed at relatively mild groups rather than the more militant extremists, such as ISIS. Therefore, these recent attacks cannot be so easily justified, especially when the lives of civilians are at risk.

Not only are the principles behind the air strikes disapproved of by NATO, but the way in which they are being carried out is leading to friction between Russia and other nations. This is due to the way in which Russia began its air strikes in Syria without the support of other nations and even seeming to disregard their opinion on the matter. It has been reported that the Russian attacks were a surprise. Clearly, the Russians did not want to take the time to gain approval from the US or from any other nations.

Putin’s careless attitude towards the advice and warnings of NATO together with his sudden and surprise attacks in Syria clearly displays a disregard for international laws and peace. This has all led to the development of an aggressive foreign policy. In this way, it appears that Putin is a threat to the modern western values of peace and diplomacy. It seems also that Putin is willing to create friction and continue his aggressive stance without fearing the consequences that his actions will bring. It is impossible to tell what all this will lead to by the time he celebrates his next birthday.