Peace with Russia, where did it go wrong?

There's a good article on the BBC website about relations between Russia and the west at the end of the Cold War.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-30177725

Like most people, I am disappointed that we appear to be in a new cold war, and had hoped that we would all be allies. I thought that things had gone sour because that's what Russia wants, until I read this paragraph:

"And although there was a sensation that Nato and the former Warsaw Pact, including Russia, should simply merge to become one single, huge force for peace, the US wouldn't countenance it."

Ah, so we're on the side of the bad guys. I'd better buy myself a black suit and tie. The article doesn't say who exactly spoilt our dreams, restricting itself to saying
"What President Eisenhower had once called America's "military-industrial complex" was in no mood to offer the hand of friendship to a fallen ideological enemy."

What a wasted opportunity.
 

Auld-Yin

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I don't seem to remember any public feeling that NATO and Warsaw Pact countries would just kiss and make up, then go forward as best buddies.

On the contrary IIRC it was more a feeling of we beat you so tough.
 
Well, those former Warsaw Pact countres arsenals weren't going to upgrade themselves y'know, and you do need a bogyman to encourage such countries to get a wiggle on whilst doing it!
 
John Simpson said:
There is a real possibility that one or other of these Russian pilots, their transponders switched off, and deaf to the guidance of civil aviation controllers, will smash into a civilian passenger aircraft.

Really?
 
Where did it go wrong? When the Russians elected an ex KGB Megalomaniac.
 
D

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Where did it go wrong? When Government forgot that the Slavic mentality really only respects one thing - strength. Why not improve your position on the world stage when the opposition is a bunch of hand wringing, casualty-averse sycophants?

From their point of view.
 
Where did it go wrong?

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When our side forgot that just because we thought we'd hit a Year Zero moment everyone else must too wasn't automatically going to be true.

The crass naivety imagining that Russians would stop thinking in terms of spheres of influence and so wouldn't react to an eastward expansion of an organisation specifically aimed at their jugular still takes my breath away.
 
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John Simpson is an @rse of biblical proportions - always popping up with an "if only they'd listened to me"-style commentary wherever there's a bit of strife. Trying to blame the US military-industrial complex is f8ck-witted in the extreme. If anything you'd imagine they'd have preferred the cold war to trundle on with consequential force levels and budgets.

It's interesting to note that neither Simpson or his Guardianista cronies in the Beeb saw fit to report extensively on just what that nice Mr Putin and his merry men have been up to over the last ten years or so. Gradual censorship of what little free press had sprung up in the FSU, disappearing journos, oligarchs with the wrong patronage going to the big house or worse and of course the ludicrous situation where on stepping down as president, he gets his placeman put there, while he goes to be Prime Minister and then gets the constitution amended so he can be Pres again in due course.

This has been coming for at least the last six years and the west has collectively gone "la-la-la I can't see anything", because it might upset the cosy consensus.
 

4(T)

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The crass naivety imagining that Russians would stop thinking in terms of spheres of influence and so wouldn't react to an eastward expansion of an organisation specifically aimed at their jugular still takes my breath away.


I think that is just the latest propaganda "message" that is being used as a casus belli by Putin. I don't think "Russians" in general had any particular passion about the near-abroad in the same way that most Brits don't care that we no longer have large garrisons in former strategic imperial bases.

In the initial years after the fall of the communist party, it seemed for a while that Russia would develop, open up, and join the community of nations. There were extraordinary efforts made by western countries to help Russia (not least the US - now demonised by Putin - handing over billions of dollars of free cash in order to help stabilise the currency and economy...), and a vast amount of improvement was actually achieved. The transformation was incredible - everything "modern" that you see in a Russian city today was created or inspired by foreign investment during that period.

I (and many other Arrsers) was living in Russia from the early 1990s. Among my business and social acquaintances were many, many former senior officers of the KGB/ GRU and other military agencies - now supposedly the ones getting tetchy about western encroachment, and the driving force behind nationalism. I never once - at that time - came across any perception of the west as a "threat". Indeed quite the opposite - excitement at the prospect for change, and eagerness to enjoy the benefits of being part of the new world. Most of these guys were flocking to jobs in foreign companies, flocking to invest in European assets, and hoovering up all the wonderful trinklets of a new consumer society.

The less influential rump population have likewise to date thoroughly enjoyed their new western-provided consumer society. The civilian power brokers - the oligarchs - similarly have nothing whatsoever to gain from a cold war. Indeed, all of them owe their fortunes to opportunity provided by proximity to europe and the west - not least in financial facilities and manipulable EU politicians.

When Putin came to power in 2000, he slammed on the brakes, and then turned Russia back towards cold war hostility. It was very obvious at the time (from 2000/1 many of us expats started receiving the renewed attention of the FSB - apartment searches, telephone tapping, interviews without coffee for some of our Russian friends and colleagues, etc).

Today, 14 years later, the anti-west programme has been sharply ramped up. Those of us who frequent Russia have only seen the anti-west message take root in the general population within the past year or so - the result of saturation domestic propaganda, and closure of most of the remaining sources of independent news and information.

IMHO the earlier posters have it right, in that this new cold war is mostly Putin-driven.
 

jarrod248

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Hold on Theresa May was reminding us only yesterday that we'd to still be terrified about terrorism, can't recall her mentioning Russians. We need a Bikini state on the BBC with a reminder who is supposedly naughty that day.
 
I think that is just the latest propaganda "message" that is being used as a casus belli by Putin. I don't think "Russians" in general had any particular passion about the near-abroad in the same way that most Brits don't care that we no longer have large garrisons in former strategic imperial bases.
I doubt "most Russians" get a say but to suggest that their policy has not been reactive to 'Western' encroachment I think is a mistake. If you look at their reactions to the various stages of the Balkans crisis, the same pattern appears time and again - initial absolute co-operation followed by cooling of ardour and eventual opposition as the initial positions diverge.

The initial post-Communist enthusiasm for all things western might just have been a rush to get a closer look at the Emperor's sparkly new outfit they'd been hearing about all those years. Now that they've had it...
 
I doubt "most Russians" get a say but to suggest that their policy has not been reactive to 'Western' encroachment I think is a mistake. If you look at their reactions to the various stages of the Balkans crisis, the same pattern appears time and again - initial absolute co-operation followed by cooling of ardour and eventual opposition as the initial positions diverge.

The initial post-Communist enthusiasm for all things western might just have been a rush to get a closer look at the Emperor's sparkly new outfit they'd been hearing about all those years. Now that they've had it...
I think not. Certainly not in terms of the Emperor's New Clothes or any other simplistic, anti-capitalistic soundbites you care to throw around.

Putin's progressively intransigent attitude shores up support at home while his demonisation of the West will allow him to stay in power indefinitely. The crop of naked torso shots appeal to those of his nation who still see this as perfectly natural behaviour for a PM...no matter how perturbing the rationale behind it.
 
I think not. Certainly not in terms of the Emperor's New Clothes or any other simplistic, anti-capitalistic soundbites you care to throw around.
Given the way the Russian economy tanked throughout the 90s, it wouldn't be all that unusual for Russians to lose their fondness for Western-style reforms and look back on Soviet times with nostalgia, however misplaced.

Write it off as "simplistic, Anti-capitalistic (sic) soundbites" if you like, opening their economy hurt an awful lot of Russians and people do not look fondly on things that hurt them.
 

seaweed

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I think Putin sees himself as Tsar of all the Russias and the heir of Ivan the Terrible. Tactically, Hitler is his role model and he is behaving towards the Ukraine exactly as Hitler did to Czechoslovakia, possession is 9/10ths etc. We can't physically intervene on the ground, nor would that be wise, but financial sanctions may ultimately bite hard enough for Tsar Putin's subjects to get a bit fed up with him. Of course they will be told we are their enemy etc and there will be a lot more air and naval showing off until the cash for that runs out.
 
Russia's turn away from Europe and towards Central and East Asia ought to be worrying us. The rationale has been that we can sanction them into submission but instead it's turning out to be a question of whether our sanctions can hurt them enough before their dependence on our markets stops being a critical factor for them.
 

fu2

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I think it started after the berlin wall came down and germany was reunited. I read somewhere that gorbi came to an agreement with the west that germany could reunite if the west didnt expand nato further east. unfortunatly for him it wasnt a written agreement and the nato expanded right up to the russian borders without leaving a puffer zone between them and the russians.
 

seaweed

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Book Reviewer
RIP
It is hardly surprising that the survivors of Communist slavery turned against its source and sought safety in an alliance aimed at preserving freedom, decency, justice and the rule of law. How could we deny them?
 
How could we deny them?
We could always have tried, "We deny you."

We've done that often enough elsewhere when it suited our interests so we can't really complain when outside observers mistake our high moral principles in this case for naked and venal self-interest. It's what we do best.
 

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