Russian Elites So Integrated in the West that Western Governments Aren’t Prepared to Take Tough Action against Moscow, Shevtsova Says

File Photo of G7 Leaders at Summit, adapted from image at

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, Sept. 7, 2020)

Despite Kremlin actions like the Navalny poisoning, Western governments have largely limited themselves to tough public statements rather than serious actions, the reflection of a combination of circumstances that Western officials are generally unwilling to recognize, Liliya Shevtsova says.

First of all, the Russian commentator points out, liberal democracies don’t like to take tough action if they can avoid it, especially when they fear, as many of them do in the Russian case, that tough action could lead either to a Kremlin response they don’t want or a Russian collapse that neither wants (

Second, Shevtsova says, “the Russian rulikng class has formed within the West a defensive barrier in the form of a stratum which serves its needs.” Gerhard Shroeder is the archetype, but Russian involvement in banking and real estate is so great in many Western countries that any move against Moscow could backfire on the countries that take it.

And third, many in the West remain convinced that while it may be possible to work something out with Russia and get it to change, both face a bigger and more frightening threat in the form of China which Western governments simultaneously fear and see little or no chance of changing.

This combination of factors, more than the specifics or any given situation, explain why Western governments respond to what Moscow does. What is even worse: the Kremlin fully understands this and knows that if one of these factors doesn’t work with one country, the other two are available, and when more than one country is involved, some or all of them are in play.

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