Russia’s Iron Curtain Has Descended across Europe, Again

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Russian President Vladimir Putin.(photo:@KremlinRussia_E/Twitter)

FS Aijazuddin

IN the film Forrest Gump, Tom Hanks finds himself unwittingly caught in various crises. Cinema-goers will recognise the parallel with the prime minister’s mistimed visit to Mos­cow. Could there have been a more improbable scenario than a Third World PM visiting Moscow on the first day of World War III and, during a three-hour-long executive lunch in the Kremlin, advising his Russian host to use diplomacy “to avert a military conflict”?

Some suggest that President Putin, following his ostracism by the West over Crimea, needed every straw ally he could grasp — even bottom-of-the-barrel Pakistan. Others interpret his hospitality as a tilt towards Pakistan, a lurch away from his ally New Delhi. Anyone searching for such silver linings knows little about Russia’s Iron Curtain or China’s Great Wall of Steel.

“It takes a good blacksmith to make good steel,” President Xi Jinping said last July. He reiterated China’s belief in “bloodless battles”, in resolving issues “through negotiation”, but warned that any foreign force trying “to bully, oppress, or subjugate” China would encounter “a great wall of steel”.

History has taught Xi Jinping and fellow blacksmith Vladimir Putin to suspect encirclement and fear encroachment. In February this year, both leaders opposed “further enlargement of Nato” and called on the North Atlantic Alliance “to abandon its ideologised Cold War approaches”. They warned US-led Nato “against the formation of closed bloc structures and opposing camps in the Asia-Pacific region”.

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