L’indépendance du Kosovo, le désordre et la Russie

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L’indépendance du Kosovo, le désordre et la Russie

L’indépendance du Kosovo proclamée dimanche commence à avoir le résultat escompté: le désordre. Ce sont d’abord les manifestations de protestation à Belgrade, qui ne se sont pas trompées d’objectif: l’ambassade US à Belgrade attaquée, avec quelques mises à sac et incendies. Le Guardian d’aujourd’hui fait un rapport sur ces désordres, qui pourraient s’étendre: «Furious Serbs protesting at western support for Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence set fire to the American embassy in Belgrade last night, as hundreds of thousands of demonstrators converged on the Serbian capital. The attack on the embassy came after hundreds of protesters, watched passively by police, peeled away from the main rally to invade the building in the centre of the capital, using sticks and metal bars.»

S’il y a un sujet qui fait l’unanimité dans les institutions européennes, principales machinatrices avec les USA de l’indépendance, c’est bien le Kosovo. «Il est impressionnant de constater combien tous les dirigeants européens, Solana, les Commissaires à la Commission, etc., combien tous sont persuadés que l’indépendance du Kosovo est une catastrophe absolue, nous dit une source à la Commission européenne. En plus des événements en cours, de l’attitude de la Russie, il y a la réalisation complète que le Kosovo n’a aucune structure étatique, que sa direction est un rassemblement de groupes mafieux et autres, que ce “pays” va devenir un trou sans fond pour les subsides européens qui serviront à alimenter toutes les activités illégales possibles. Pourtant, pas un seul de ces dirigeants européens n’a élevé la moindre objection publique devant la marche vers l’indépendance, appuyée par les pressions US. L’indépendance du Kosovo, c’est une cause sacrée de l’idéologie libérale et de l’opinion médiatique des élites moralistes européennes.»

En plus des perspectives à moyen terme, il y a les événements du court terme, et particulièrement l’attitude russe. George Friedman a publié le 20 février une analyse sur cette question, sur le site Stratfor (accès payant). Pour une fois, la directeur de Stratfor n’est pas optimiste quant à l’issue de la crise (par “optimisme”, nous entendons son habitude à estimer que, finalement, la puissance US imposera sa volonté). Dans son analyse, Friedman signale la réunion des pays de la CEI regroupés autour de la Russie aujourd’hui à Moscou et juge que cette réunion va peut-être déboucher sur des événements importants.

Friedman estime que la Russie a été poussée dans ses retranchements dans cette affaire du Kosovo, qu’elle ne peut pas ne pas réagir. Son analyse est fondée autant sur la psychologie de Poutine que sur la position et les intérêts géopolitiques de la Russie. Il envisage une issue éventuellement dramatique à la crise, avec la possibilité de l’intervention russe. Il faut noter, dans cet extrait qui conclut son analyse, l’appréciation assez juste que Friedman donne des motifs occidentaux, notamment européens dans cette affaire: pour le moins “unclear”, et en réalité un mélange d’inertie bureaucratique et de vision conformiste de la situation et de la Russie elle-même. Un exemple convaincant de l’impuissance occidentale dans la réalisation d'une politique dont personne ne contrôle vraiment l'orientation. Quelles que soit l'évolution de la situation, elle sera mauvaise pour la région et catastrophique pour la stabilité de l’Europe.

«Moscow has objected to Kosovo’s independence on all of the diplomatic and legal grounds discussed. But behind that is a significant challenge to Russia’s strategic position. Russia wants to be seen as a great power and the dominant power in the former Soviet Union (FSU). Serbia is a Russian ally. Russia is trying to convince countries in the FSU, such as Ukraine, that looking to the West for help is futile because Russian power can block Western power. It wants to make the Russian return to great power status seem irresistible.

»The decision to recognize Kosovo’s independence in the face of Russian opposition undermines Russian credibility. That is doubly the case because Russia can make a credible argument that the Western decision flies in the face of international law — and certainly of the conventions that have governed Europe for decades. Moscow also is asking for something that would not be difficult for the Americans and Europeans to give. The resources being devoted to Kosovo are not going to decline dramatically because of independence. Putting off independence until the last possible moment — which is to say forever, considering the utter inability of Kosovo to care for itself — thus certainly would have been something the West could have done with little effort.

»But it didn’t. The reason for this is unclear. It does not appear that anyone was intent on challenging the Russians. The Kosovo situation was embedded in a process in which the endgame was going to be independence, and all of the military force and the bureaucratic inertia of the European Union was committed to this process. Russian displeasure was noted, but in the end, it was not taken seriously. This was simply because no one believed the Russians could or would do anything about Kosovar independence beyond issuing impotent protestations. Simply put, the nations that decided to recognize Kosovo were aware of Russian objections but viewed Moscow as they did in 1999: a weak power whose wishes are heard but discarded as irrelevant. Serbia was an ally of Russia. Russia intervened diplomatically on its behalf. Russia was ignored.

»If Russia simply walks away from this, its growing reputation as a great power will be badly hurt in the one arena that matters to Moscow the most: the FSU. A Europe that dismisses Russian power is one that has little compunction about working with the Americans to whittle away at Russian power in Russia’s own backyard. Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko — who, in many ways, is more anti-Western than Russian President Vladimir Putin and is highly critical of Putin as well — has said it is too late to “sing songs” about Kosovo. He maintains that the time to stop the partition of Kosovo was in 1999, in effect arguing that Putin’s attempts to stop it were ineffective because it was a lost cause. Translation: Putin and Russia are not the powers they pretend to be.

»That is not something that Putin in particular can easily tolerate. Russian grand strategy calls for Russia to base its economy on the export of primary commodities. To succeed at this, Russia must align its production and exports with those of other FSU countries. For reasons of both national security and economics, being the regional hegemon in the FSU is crucial to Russia’s strategy and to Putin’s personal credibility. He is giving up the presidency on the assumption that his personal power will remain intact. That assumption is based on his effectiveness and decisiveness. The way he deals with the West — and the way the West deals with him — is a measure of his personal power. Being completely disregarded by the West will cost him. He needs to react.

»The Russians are therefore hosting an “informal” CIS summit in Moscow on Friday. This is not the first such summit, by any means, and one was supposed to be held before this but was postponed. On Feb. 11, however, after it became clear that Kosovo would declare independence, the decision to hold the summit was announced. If Putin has a response to the West on Kosovo, it should reveal itself at the summit.

»There are three basic strategies the Russians can pursue. One is to try to create a coalition of CIS countries to aid Serbia. This is complex in that Serbia may have no appetite for this move, and the other CIS countries may not even symbolically want to play.

»The second option is opening the wider issue of altering borders. This could be aimed at sticking it to the Europeans by backing Serbian secessionist efforts in bifurcated Bosnia-Herzegovina. It also could involve announcing Russia’s plans to annex Russian-friendly separatist regions on its borders — most notably the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and perhaps even eastern Ukraine and the Crimea. (Annexation would be preferred over recognizing independence, since it would reduce the chances of Russia’s own separatist regions agitating for secession.) Russia thus would argue that Kosovo’s independence opens the door for Russia to shift its borders, too. That would make the summit exciting, particularly with regard to the Georgians, who are allied with the United States and at odds with Russia on Abkhazia and other issues.

»The third option involves creating problems for the West elsewhere. An Iranian delegation will be attending the summit as “observers.” That creates the option for Russia to signal to Washington that the price it will pay for Kosovo will be extracted elsewhere. Apart from increased Russian support for Iran — which would complicate matters in Iraq for Washington — there are issues concerning Azerbaijan, which is sandwiched between Russia and Iran. In the course of discussions with Iranians, the Russians could create problems for Azerbaijan. The Russians also could increase pressure on the Baltic states, which recognized Kosovo and whose NATO membership is a challenge to the Russians. During the Cold War, the Russians were masters of linkage. They responded not where they were weak but where the West was weak. There are many venues for that.

»What is the hardest to believe — but is, of course, possible — is that Putin simply will allow the Kosovo issue to pass. He clearly knew this was coming. He maintained vocal opposition to it beforehand and reiterated his opposition afterward. The more he talks and the less he does, the weaker he appears to be. He personally can’t afford that, and neither can Russia. He had opportunities to cut his losses before Kosovo’s independence was declared. He didn’t. That means either he has blundered badly or he has something on his mind. Our experience with Putin is that the latter is more likely, and this suddenly called summit may be where we see his plans play out.»

 

Mis en ligne le22 février 2008 à 12H28

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