Western democracies should “stop playing ‘Let’s pretend’ in order to appease the Kremlin,” says a leading analyst. “Russia is now ruled by people with a greater propensity to violence than the aged leadership of the final days of the Soviet Union.”
“The Kremlin has switched from imitating democracy to deterring European values…..testing not military might but the west’s determination to follow its principles,’ writes Lilia Shevtsova (right), a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace:
“The Kremlin is offering new rules that sound like an ultimatum,” she writes in the Financial Times:
Accept the concept of total state sovereignty, allowing any regime (Syria included) to treat its people as it sees fit. Co-operate on trade, investment and other areas of mutual interest. Do not obstruct our elite’s activities in your countries, which means forgetting about the Magnitsky act barring Russian officials accused of human rights violations from the US. Accept that we have a “sphere of interests”. And no lectures about democracy.
Reset the reset
She echoes the conclusions of a new Freedom House report – Contending with Putin’s Russia: A Call for American Leadership – by insisting that “the west’s traditional methods of dealing with Russia (from realpolitik to reset) have stopped working.”
“It is understandable that western leaders prefer to strike tactical deals with the Kremlin and hope Russia does not go down on their watch. But there is another approach: stop helping the Kremlin,” says Shevtsova, co-author of ‘Change or Decay: Russia’s Dilemma and the West’s Response’:
How? Practise what you preach. Deploy conditionality to the Russian elite integrated into the west (your enjoyment of our benefits depends on how you behave at home). Stop playing “Let’s pretend” in order to appease the Kremlin. In this way the west, while reclaiming its own principles, can also help Russian society transform itself.