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  • Garry Kasparov is regarded as one of the best chess players of all time.

  • His success within the Soviet Union's chess team in the 70s and 80s, has made him a household name around the world.

  • Chess is 100% transparent game.

  • Information, which is available for me, at the board, is also available for my opponent, and vice versa.

  • It's about making projections.

  • What will happen on the chess board five or 10 moves from now.

  • After retiring from chess in 2005, Mr. Kasparov changed his game, moving into politics.

  • He tried to challenge a new opponent, the Russian president, Vladimir Putin.

  • People compare many things to chess.

  • You can hear chess metaphors all over the place, whether in politics or at war.

  • In 2007, Mr. Kasparov announced he would run against Mr. Putin in the presidential election.

  • But he was not experienced in the game of politics and it wasn't much of a contest.

  • He failed to secure a place on the electoral ballot.

  • He now lives in exile, in America.

  • Mr. Putin won that move.

  • But what game is Mr. Putin playing with the West?

  • The idea that Putin is a great chess player is very far from reality.

  • Dictators, they always like to operate in secrecy and Putin is a KGB dictator.

  • Secrecy, blackmail, those are the rules of his game.

  • The game that is far more consistent with Putin's habits is a game of cards.

  • Poker.

  • Where you can start reading your opponents, bluffing and raising stakes.

  • In 1999 Mr. Putin took over as Russian president from Boris Yeltsin.

  • As Eastern Europe transitioned from communism to democracy relations between Russia and the West improved.

  • But after the Orange Revolution in Ukraine, Mr. Putin became increasingly hostile.

  • He felt that America was meddling in Russia's sphere of influence.

  • In 2007, he used his speech at the Munich Security Conference to voice his angry criticism of American foreign policy.

  • America and it's allies kept their poker face.

  • I thought the speech was very aggressive, but we welcome the dialogue and look forward to further discussions.

  • In 2007 in Munich, Putin made very blatant statement about his plans to recover Russia's influence in the former Soviet Union.

  • It's a watershed moment where is a difference in language being used by both sides.

  • Dictator believes that he sent a message.

  • The other side thinks, oh we just, well we're being tested.

  • In 2014, Mr. Putin embarked on his most aggressive move yet.

  • Annexing Crimea and later invading part of Ukraine.

  • In Crimea, Russian troops occupied the streets, but they had no insignia on their uniforms and there was no acknowledgement from Russia that it was involved.

  • Crimea went very smoothly.

  • All elements of the game being well prepared.

  • Putin didn't care very much about Western reaction to the annexation of Crimea, because he already saw no reaction when he did his attack on Republic of Georgia in 2008.

  • Mr. Putin had already tested the West six years earlier, during the five day war with Georgia.

  • Unwilling to confront Russia directly, some Western leaders blamed the recklessness of Georgia's president at the time.

  • In the case of Russia's war with Ukraine though, the West responded by imposing sanctions on Mr. Putin's inner circle.

  • I guess that the sanctions was kind of a surprise to him.

  • It was definitely more than Putin expected.

  • In 2012, the United States drew a red line in Syria.

  • It told President Bashar al-Assad that if chemical weapons were used by their regime, America would take military action.

  • But just one year on, the regime killed 1400 of it's own people with sarin gas.

  • America failed to act and it emboldened Mr. Putin.

  • When the UN Security Council met in 2015 to discuss how to stop the Syrian regime, President Putin was at the table and was about to call America's bluff.

  • Assad had to go, that's what Obama said.

  • Now Putin wants to prove that Obama was wrong.

  • All of a sudden he goes to New York for General Assembly, meets Obama.

  • Looking in his eye, shaking hands, to show the Russian television that he Putin went to America, he tried to improve relations.

  • Next day, Russian planes bombed American-backed opposition in Syria.

  • In the US presidential election of 2016, the FBI says that Russia used cyber-attacks and social media to undermine trust in democracy and help get Donald Trump elected.

  • How about first discrediting the elections, the institute of democracy?

  • Troll factories that were built in Russia, to fight Russian opposition, to create fake news.

  • 13 Russian nationals have been indicted in America for interfering and damaging the prospects of the Democratic candidate, Hilary Clinton.

  • So how would Garry Kasparov play against Mr. Putin?

  • He says that engagement has failed.

  • Instead he thinks the West must isolate and deter Mr. Putin and his inner circle through a strategy of economic sanctions, visa limitations and seizure of assets.

  • Of course we can call his bluff, of course we can keep raising stakes.

  • But at the end of the day, as long as we keep being blackmailed in this geo-political casino, Putin can be viewed as the winner of the game.

  • But it's a temporary game.

  • It's in our hands, to make sure that his tactical gains will be turned into strategic losses.

  • So it's not a game of cards, but it's the game that I know much better, this is a game of chess.

  • And this is where strategy is everything.

Garry Kasparov is regarded as one of the best chess players of all time.

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Putin's games with the West | The Economist

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    April Lu posted on 2019/02/14
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