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Handbook of International Diplomacy―The Authoritarian Edition: THREATS 102

If you are threatening another sovereign entity with crippling measures that would severely impact on its economic and social fabric, there are two points to be addressed beforehand for optimum execution of your strategy.


Firstly, avoid framing your threat as a cold-hearted blackmailing demand, you do not want to be pointed out as the regional bully. Dig up some legal/accounting reason to back up your impertinent and preposterous claim. No matter how arcane, trifle or fare-fetched the justification (see Russia's account on increasing Ukraine's gas prices), a veil of technicalities, fine print and footnotes should shroud your inflammatory request in an ether of credibility. They may be short on jurisprudence and may even not stand up to deeper judicial scrutiny, but is the law not a slippery, inscrutable eel, forever evading definitive capture?


The second point to be aware of is that the counterparty you are threatening will always attempt to devise a counter-threat to neutralize yours. In these circumstances, counter-measures would not necessarily be related to the issue at hand and could very well be targeting a completely separate arena, some obscure vulnerability or Achilles heel that you have swept under the carpet, and could even be more contemptible than yours. Case in point Ukraine's response to the aforementioned gas price hikes threats with their own ones of shutting the water supply off to Crimeans.

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