The Kremlin, for its part, reacted peevishly to the West’s dismay. Russian officials said there had been no change in their policy, and that the West was once again distorting their position maliciously. The G8 statement had indeed carried Russia’s signature, but it made no mention of UN sanctions. The main point, they added, was that Zimbabwe’s travails posed no threat to regional or global stability; they were outside the Security Council’s remit.
[ . . . ]
Western illusions that Russia might side with America against the regime in Zimbabwe betray a basic lack of understanding of what makes Russia tick, says Dmitri Trenin of the Carnegie Moscow Centre, a think-tank. These days, Russian thinking divides the world into America and its docile friends on one hand, and “sovereign” countries, like China, India and South Africa on the other. Given Russia’s aim to speak for the second camp, its veto was logical—and as Russian officials stressed, it reflected the African Union line.
[ . . . ]
But Russia’s move doesn’t indicate that it has any constructive aim in southern Africa—other than exploiting whatever vestigial ties may linger from the era when Soviet arms (like the Kalashnikov, a national symbol in Mozambique) helped to overthrow white rule.
This quality of analysis isn’t found in Time or US News and World Report. If it were, it would be found in scanty crumbs, floating in briny mediocrity.