Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Does Russia sincerely hate the West?

At Davos Putin was approached by Gates or Jobs. Putin replied "go away."

- Edward Lucas

The West has been turning a blind eye to the effects of NATO enlargement [Jotman: see here and here]; the West ignored Russian opposition to Kosovo independence, making it awkward to oppose similar right of self-determination in South Ossetia.

-Brahma Chellaney
What kind of bear is Russia? JOTMAN.COM recently traveled to Helsinki to answer that question. Jotman live-blogged an encounter between former Russian ambassador Anatoly Adamishin, The Economist's European correspondent Edward Lucas, and Indian foreign affairs expert Brahma Chellaney, moderated by CNN's Jim Clancy.

The other day, we asked Russian Jotman contributor Sanjuro, who comes from the Russian Far East, to share his reflections on the discussion (this is part 1).
As I see it now, in hindsight, Russians had no problem with the West - whatsoever. Even the NATO bombings of Serbia did little to change the attitude. The energy policy wasn't never in the agenda. The rise of racism and xenophobia also had little to do with the external relations - it was largely a reaction to the increased migration from the former Soviet republics.

I am totally subjective in this very rough interpretation, but I believe that in 1999-2000 Putin and Co. saw some very tentative conditions to propel their candidate to power, and to keep him there. Anti-Americanism, anti-Westernism were not a commonplace attribute at the end of the Yeltsin's term, they were simply wiped up to create favorable conditions for Putin's two terms.

This was done skillfully, and/but in complete awareness of the Russian people inherent apoliticism. Because, quite frankly, most of the Russians will "believe" whatever they are told to believe, but in reality they will not give a damn about it. I am pretty sure, if Medvedev - or whoever - goes on TV tomorrow and says "Americans are our best friends and have always been", they will start waving US flags, not without a vague expectation of some benefit, but also without much mental involvement in the process.
This is the second part of a series featuring reactions to "What kind of bear is Russia" -- our live-blog of the 2009 IPI World Congress panel. Don't miss Part 2 "Could Putin's new goal for Russia be liberal democracy" and Part 3 "Should Europe get tough with Russia?"

1 comment:

  1. No - but the West sincerely hates Russia!

    The truth is that Russians look at Americans as a curiosity!



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