Moscow has Made ‘Unforgivable Mistake’ of Setting West against Russia for the Long Term, Shevtsova Says
(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, August 15, 2018)
The Russian regime has made “the unforgivable mistake” of acting against the West in ways that have made Russia a key part of the domestic politics of the U.S. and European countries and guaranteed that the West will continue its sanctions regime against Moscow for a long time to come whatever Moscow does, Liliya Shevtsova says.
It isn’t that Moscow has made one or two mistakes, the Russian political analyst says. From those it might recover. Rather, it has adopted a policy that has driven Russia into a dead end out of which it is far from clear that it will be able to escape and that has alienated even those like Greece with whom it has long been close (echo.msk.ru/blog/shevtsova/2258916-echo/).
“Today,” Shevtsova continues, “Russia stands before the threat of a sanctions blockade which will be harsher than the earlier ones.” Moscow will adapt, of course, with the regime placing the burden on the population. And even these sanctions won’t destroy the Russian economy or lead to the overthrow of Putin.
The Kremlin will present that as a victory, but what has in fact happened is anything but, Shevtsova says. What has occurred, she says, is “the formation of a mechanism which will force the Russian ruling class to play for its conviction that it can do whatever it wants not only at home but also abroad.”
This mechanism “creates for Russia a new geopolitical situation,” one in which its ability to act abroad will be reduced and in which it will lose its access to the financial and technological resources of the West on which it has been relying. And together that promises a less than glorious future for Russia.
According to Shevtsova, “the Russian authorities have committed an unforgiveable error by deciding that they can grab America by the tail and forever make use of its patience. Having angered America, the Kremlin has not simply transformed Russia into a factor of American political struggle.” It has done something far more serious.
“The American have done what the Russian authorities have done at home with regard to America: an anti-Russian position has become the criterion of American patriotism and almost a national idea.” Moreover, Moscow’s actions have given the US which was tiring of its role as “the global sheriff” “a shot of adrenalin.”
The chief designer of this disaster, of course, is the Kremlin itself, Shevtsova continues. But it had help including from the Russian political class that has constantly complained about the demeaning attitude of the West, Moscow experts who argue “the era of the West has ended,” Western leaders who tell Putin “what he wants to hear,” and Western intellectuals who say Russia has been offended and thus “has the right to break the windows of others.”
One can add to that the previous Western system of regulating property and financial flows, a system that Russians have been able to exploit to the point that “our ruling class feels itself beyond the reach of any punishment and is certain that the West will swallow all of its works.”
All this has encouraged the Kremlin that its various “gambits” will work, but increasingly it is obvious that they won’t. No one should forget “the paradox” displayed by Moscow’s approach to US President Donald Trump who created the illusion of the possibility of a deal between America and Russia” but who, because of Moscow’s actions, isn’t going to make one.
That is because, as the Kremlin should have known in advance, “the more Trump wants to make friends with us,” the more the American system will impose sanctions to punish him and Russia for any such effort.
And even when Trump leaves, this won’t change immediately. “Whatever we do,” Shevtsova says, “will be bad. If we try to make friends with America, the Americans will suspect us of evil intentions,” especially given that “Russia will not say ‘mea culpa'” for any of the crimes it has committed.
At same time, “if we try to respond to America – and one must ask whether we can – the situation will become still worse because Russia cannot oppose the most developed and wealthiest situation.” All that should have been obvious to the Kremlin and led it to adopt different policies; but it wasn’t and what Russia must now lie in the bed it has made for itself.
[Article also appeared at windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2018/08/moscow-has-made-unforgivable-mistake-of.html]
[featured image is file photo from different timeframe]