‘The best way to handle Putin’- the previous British Ambassador to Moscow

July 18, 2007 at 4:43 pm Leave a comment

At the latest G8

Mr Roderic Lyne, the previous British ambassador to Moscow has published his article in the German Times.  The article is called ‘the best way to handle Putin’.  I would recommend to read it.  He made few bullet points also.  I have few comments also.  They are in brackets and marked in green.– The EU needs to view Russia in a long-term perspective. It should be patient; and honest in its analysis, eschewing wishful thinking. It should recognize that it cannot determine the course of events within Russia.  (Yes, and do nothing even when Kremlin is threatening to its ‘near abroad’.  I don’t think that the Balts would be happy to hear that) What we are witnessing is a revisionist phase in a transition, but not the final product.  (In my opinion Russia has crossed the red line, behind the point of no return.  The masses are happy with the situation, the elites are too corrupt to change anything and the liberals are too few and too weak to change anything). Russia will develop its own model, possibly even its own form of democracy a process which has not yet started. (Well, it is remain to bee seen what will be in the far future but at the moment it is clear that Russia is destroying very little democracy it had)   The EU will at all times have to deal with Russia as it is, not as we might wish it to be.

– In its long-term perspective, the EU must recognize that Russia is a part of Europe, not consign it to be forever apart from Europe. The urge from some quarters to draw a permanent dividing line around the union should be resisted. Doors should be kept open rather than closed.  (Agree)

– We should not try to take significant steps until the next president has settled in. It makes no sense to try to push ahead with the successor to the EU-Russia Partnership and Cooperation Agreement during the last year of the current presidential term.

– We should try to understand Russia better, and weigh the consequences of our actions. This does not mean appeasing; or suppressing criticism; or abandoning our principles. Russians do not respect weakness. But it does mean understanding Russia’s viewpoint and sensitivities; avoiding needless provocation; (how should we then react to the Russian provocations?) and above all not taking steps which play into the hands of the most backward and hard-line forces in Russia. We need to get smart. Chancellor Merkel, who evidently has a good understanding of Russia, has given an object lesson in taking a firm but constructive position without histrionics.

– It is essential to have a common EU approach, shared by all EU members. Those to one side or the other of the debate should defer to the majority.  The EU’s solidarity at the Samara summit made an impression on President Putin. But, since then, we have seen renewed attempts at wedge-driving: first, honeyed efforts to seduce some of the weaker brethren (Austria, Portugal, Greece); then an offensive on the proposed stationing of a mere 10 interceptor rockets in Poland (without nuclear warheads) straight from the Pershing playbook of a previous age. One may be sceptical of missile defence and doubt the wisdom of the American approach; but Bush has made the important gesture of inviting Putin to Kennebunkport to discuss their differences. It would be the very depth of folly for Europe to re-divide into the friends and opponents of the United States.- The EU must be clear and cool-headed about energy. It must not be fooled by a Russian bluff: Gazprom (which makes little or no profit within Russia) depends on the EU as a customer for over 85 percent of its gas exports. There should be access within a single EU market to energy supplies: EU countries should not negotiate exclusive deals at each other’s expense. The EU must also develop greater diversity of suppliers and types of energy, not only because of Russia’s use of energy as a political instrument but also because gas production in Russia is falling behind demand.

– We should not get drawn into megaphone diplomacy. This only suits those who are deliberately seeking to harden attitudes through escalating rhetoric. The best response to wild fulmination is a statesman-like silence.– The EU should recognize that isolating Russia – however strong the temptation to do so in response to some of Russia’s actions – is precisely what the most retrograde elements in the country want us to do. We should do the opposite. The EU should aim to enlarge and facilitate all forms of contact and engagement with the Russian people. Over time, this will be the best way of breaking down historical barriers and gaps in understanding.  (I don’t think that we should be too enthusiastic about that, we should be careful to get a wolf in the midst of sheep.  Only very few Russians want to adopt the Western values.  The Russians would like us to adopt they values)

– Threatening to curb trade or investment, as some have recently done, is a fundamental error. When political relationships are as bad as they are, the rising tide of business between the EU and Russia is a vital form of engagement which is doing more than anything else to integrate Russia more closely with the EU and the global system. The leaders (one hopes) of the future, are applying their talents to business. Private enterprise is the most progressive force in the country. It brings East and West together in deals and joint endeavours. It will probably be the most powerful locomotive for change and modernization over the next generation.  (Visit article)


Entry filed under: Politics, Russia.

The row should calm down Gazprom is creating a private army… What!?

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