The ‘Constructive Destruction’ of Russia’s Model of Relations with the West, by Alastair Crooke

Putin drew his red lines, probably knowing they wouldn’t be respected by the U.S. and Europe, and promised consequences if they weren’t seriously negotiated. Now we’re getting the consequences. From Alastair Crooke as strategic-culture.org:

Putin means what he says: Russia’s back is to the wall, and there is nowhere to which Russia can now retreat – for them it is existential.

The collective West was already angry. And it is apoplectic after President Putin shocked western leaders by ordering a special military operation in Ukraine, which is being widely described (and perceived in the West) as a declaration of war: ‘a shock and awe assault affecting cities widely across Ukraine’. So angry in fact is the West that the information space has literally bifurcated into two: It is all black and white, with no greys. For the West, Putin has comprehensively defied Biden; he has unilaterally and illegally ‘changed the borders’ of Europe and acted as a ‘revisionist power’, attempting to change not just the borders of Ukraine, but the current world order. “Thirty years after the end of the Cold War, we are facing a determined effort to redefine the multilateral order,” the EU High Representative, Josep Borell, warned. “It’s an act of defiance. It’s a revisionist manifesto, the manifesto to review the world order”.

Putin is characterised as a new Hitler, and his acts asserted to be ‘illegal’. It is claimed that it was he who tore up the Minsk II Accord (yet the Republics declared their independence in 2014, signed Minsk in 2015, and it was Russia who never signed the accord – and therefore cannot be in breach of it). Indeed, it is the US effectively that has vetoed the Minsk process since 2014, and Russia’s publication of diplomatic correspondence in November 2021 exposed that France and Germany too, had little intention of pressurising Kiev on any meaningful implementation. And so, having concluded that a negotiated settlement – as stipulated in the Minsk Accords – would simply not happen, Putin determined that there was no point in waiting any longer before implementing Russia’s red line.

The late Stephen Cohen wrote of the dangers of such unqualified Manichanaeism — how the spectre of an evil-doing Putin had so overwhelmed and toxified the US image of him that Washington has been unable to think straight – not just about Putin – but about Russia per se.  Cohen’s point was that such utter demonisation undercuts diplomacy. How does one split the difference with evil? Cohen asks, how did this happen? He suggests that in 2004, the NY Times columnist, Nicholas Kristof, inadvertently explained, at least partially, Putin’s demonisation. Kristof complained bitterly of having been “suckered by Mr. Putin. He is not a sober version of Boris Yeltsin”.

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