To what extent is the Kremlin inclined to escalate its confrontation with the West?

Moscow Rules: What Drives Russia to Confront the West?

To what extent is the Kremlin inclined to escalate its confrontation with the West?

Experts in Russia – about where such a course might lead

Moscow’s policy is driving Russia’s relations with the Western world into a dead end, experts interviewed by the Russian service of the Voice of America are inclined to this conclusion in connection with the latest statements and steps by the Russian authorities..

Recall that the Russian Foreign Ministry recently announced Russia’s withdrawal from trilateral consultations with the Netherlands and Australia as part of an investigation into the circumstances of the crash of the Malaysian Boeing, shot down in the skies over the Ukrainian Donbas in July 2014. Then, as a result of the launch of a Buk missile from the territory controlled by the pro-Russian separatists, all 298 people on board the liner were killed..

After Moscow’s demarche, Russian Ambassador Alexander Shulgin was summoned to the Dutch Foreign Ministry. The Hague expressed extreme regret for Russia’s unilateral decision and stressed its readiness to continue negotiations.

According to the Dutch media, the Kremlin’s demonstrative move was caused by the personal sanctions imposed by the European Union against senior Russian officials for the use of chemical weapons in the assassination attempt on opposition leader Alexei Navalny, starting with the head of the FSB.

This was preceded by a statement by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who admitted that the Russian authorities would stop dialogue with the leaders of the European Union in the context of the latest decisions taken by Brussels.

Andrey Kolesnikov: “The Kremlin wants to free their hands”

Head of the Russian Domestic Politics and Political Institutions Program, Carnegie Moscow Center Andrey Kolesnikov thinks that Russia’s withdrawal from the trilateral consultations can be viewed as an element of the response to the sanctions over the poisoning of Navalny and against Belarus. In his opinion, Belarus is an important component of the Kremlin’s foreign and domestic policy. He believes that Moscow is very sensitive to both stories..

“This indicates a willingness to really break off relations with the West,” the expert added in an interview with the Russian service of the Voice of America. – (Sergei) Lavrov said the other day that Russia can end the dialogue with the leaders of the European Union. It seemed that this was pure rhetoric, not having any specific outlines. But the sequel followed, and very specific. This is part of the ostentatious process of portraying (by Moscow) an insult to innocence. Since they do not cooperate with us in the Navalny case, we will not cooperate, for example, in the Boeing case “.

This is an extremely unconstructive position, leading an already difficult situation into a very dead end, says Andrei Kolesnikov. Moreover, in his opinion, Moscow is following this path quite deliberately..

“This suggests that the Kremlin wants to free their hands,” he says. – An isolated Russia, of course, is much more dangerous than Russia, with which it is still possible to conduct some kind of dialogue. On the other hand, how to conduct a dialogue with Moscow, if its position boils down to denying completely obvious facts and indiscriminately accusing the West of Russophobia? So the situation becomes practically hopeless “.

There are signs of a deliberate exit to a tough confrontation with the West on the part of Russia, and this will not lead to anything good for anyone, summed up the head of the Russian Domestic Policy and Political Institutions program at the Carnegie Moscow Center..

Dmitry Travin: “There is no big difference whether the parties communicate in some format or not at all”

In turn, to the head of the Center for Modernization Research at the European University at St. Petersburg Dmitry Travin it seems that curtailing the dialogue will not do much damage to Moscow’s relations with Western countries. According to him, they are already bad since 2014, and it is difficult to qualitatively change something here..

“Therefore, in the current situation there is no big difference whether the parties communicate in some format or not at all,” he said in a comment to the Russian service of the Voice of America. – At the same time, it is clear that at this stage the relations will not be completely cut off. If Trump, Macron or Merkel want to talk to Putin, they can always call him “.

So it looks more like a ritual move that is not able to change anything, Dmitry Travin stated. In addition, it seems to him that Lavrov’s statement does not mean yet that the Kremlin is ready to immediately move from words to deeds..

“But something else is more important,” he continued. – In principle, everything that can create the impression of a prejudiced and negative attitude of the West towards Russia, the Kremlin propaganda tries to use to strengthen the regime. Therefore, all officials, and after them the rest of the “ideological front fighters” will constantly emphasize that the West does not love us, and everything goes from here. Despite the primitivism of the approach, this bears fruit in relation to certain segments of the population “.

In a word, it is probably good that personal sanctions are being introduced against important Putin officials, but this is a private issue that does not radically affect the stability of the regime, concluded the head of the Center for Research on Modernization of the European University at St. Petersburg..

  • Victor Vladimirov

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