How the West misunderstood the criminals in the Kremlin

Several months into Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the global discussion about the war has divided into two opposing camps. In Ukraine and across the West, as well as in Russia’s own antiwar movement, the dominant view is that Vladimir Putin’s regime started the conflict in order to expand Moscow’s power and reclaim lost imperial territories. The 'realists' in the other camp blame the ‘Collective West’ for provoking the war by ignoring Russia’s objective interests. According to historian and journalist Yaroslav Shimov the war proves that the Putin regime is a ‘mafia state. Europe and the United States fail to understand this. 

Appeal to the West: Stop Alienating Ordinary Russians

Be it at the end of Putin's presidency in 2024 or before, things will inevitably change in Russia. But in which direction? Will we witness a transition to more democracy or another chaotic meltdown? The West cannot stay aloof, as what happens in Russia is a matter of concern for the world as well. At the end of the Cold War the West offered a positive alternative, but now it is alienating ordinary Russians, writes Russian journalist Leonid Ragozin. The only message it must convey is full integration of Russia in the western world.

Let’s not succumb to destabilising myths of spheres of interest

For decades Russia and the West are looking for a ‘reset’ of their relations. To no avail. Who’s to blame? That’s the wrong question, says Sir Andrew Wood, former diplomat in the Soviet Union and Russia. With Putin in the Kremlin and Trump in the White House, it’s time for dealing with particular problems as best we may, not to succumb to the destabilising myth of defined spheres of special interest.

A distorted picture of the domestic reality in Russia

Dmitri Trenin of Carnegie Moscow offers a distorted picture of reality, argues Lilia Shevtsova in her contribution to the debate 'Who is to Blame for the estrangement between East and West?' If he is right and the Tsar will indeed rule forever, why bother to look for other options? On the contrary, says Shevtsova: Russian society is moving in a different direction. People want change and start to criticize the Kremlin’s foreign policy. But reform is impossible while preserving the backbone of the old system and its anti-Western paradigm of foreign policy. 

The blame game: flawed visions of Russia's future

Dmitri Trenin, the head of the Carnegie think tank in Moscow, recently spoke in The Hague about the tensions surrounding Russia. Hannes Adomeit, a German military expert, subsequently criticised him for laying most of the blame on the West. Sir Rodric Braithwaite, who was Great Britain's ambassador in Moscow when the Soviet Union collapsed,  weighs up their arguments. The U.S. and Europe are at least partly responsible for the spoiled relations between Russia and the West, he finds.

Russia’s alienation from the West: who is to blame?

In a speech at Clingendael in The Hague Dmitri Trenin, director of Carnegie Moscow, argued that the West is to blame for the alienation of Russia. As it refused to accept the US conditions for a unilateral world order it had to be punished, says Trenin. The German military expert Hannes Adomeit disagrees. There are internal reasons for the unfortunate turn of events in Russia, he argues.