Klaus Segbers, a professor of political science and international relations at the Otto Suhr Institute at the Free University of Berlin, has listed six misconceptions in Western relations with Russia, writes the German newspaper Die Zeit.
According to the expert, the West should clearly and toughly talk with Moscow. He drew attention to the fact that over the course of a quarter of a century, a whole list of convenient but false opinions has formed, which it is time to forget about, having ceased to be afraid to criticize Russia along with other authoritarian regimes. He is confident that all the statements below are controversial or false.
The first misconception is that Russia is sometimes a peculiar but important member of the international community. Segbers noted that all countries in the world have their own specifics. But it does not follow from this that some state is incapable of democracy, respect for human rights, market the economy or civil society. At the same time, Russia considers itself special and therefore allows itself "the annexation of the territories of Georgia and Ukraine, organizes a doping system at the state level, poisons its citizens and foreigners, interferes in elections in the West, violates agreements on control over offensive arms, bombing hospitals in Syria" and this far from a complete list.
Second, after the crimes in World War II, the Germans have no right to criticize Russia. Segbers acknowledged that the Third Reich brought enormous suffering to the peoples of the planet. But after 1945, a sensitive study of everything that happened took place and hardly anything remained hidden or unexplored. Therefore, there is no need to gloss over or ignore the ongoing human rights violations.
As Joschka Fischer said, horror gives rise to a double responsibility - both for maintaining peace and for preventing a new genocide, which may also require the use of military force.
- explained Segbers.
Third, today Moscow is only reacting to the arrogance of the West and disrespect for itself after the collapse of the USSR. Segbers confirmed that the 1990s were very difficult for the population of the former USSR. But he believes that the troubles of the people were connected not with the "shock therapy" imposed by the West, but with the "wrong planned Soviet economy and the removal of reformers from power." As a positive example, he cited the Baltic countries, Poland and the Czech Republic, where "the change of the system was implemented in a meaningful and consistent manner."
Fourth, today we are experiencing a second Cold War, which can and must be managed, just like the first (1949-1989). Segbers stressed that there can be no talk of any new Cold War at all. The bipolar structure of the world has ceased to exist. Now there is no division into eastern and western blocks, as well as other related phenomena. At present, as the expert thinks, "there is an increasing fragmentation of the world, insufficiently managed globalization, a multiplicity of narratives and a crisis of liberalism."
Fifth, it is necessary to communicate with authoritarian rulers, since contacts and trade lead to changes over time. Segbers recalled that in the 60-70s of the XX century policy “Change through rapprochement” has been appropriate and successful. But now it is simply useless. There is no hope that this will lead to changes in existing Russia, because this has already been proven empirically.
Do not wait for a change in priorities of the ruling Russian political elites
- emphasized Segbers.
Sixth, it is necessary to talk with Russia in order to arrive at an honest balance of interests with the decision-makers there. Segbers pointed out that there is no need to necessarily and continuously talk about something with Russia. Communication only makes sense when minimum standards of behavior are met and there is at least some overlapping interest in joint decision-making. But when the parties have completely different priorities, then there is no need to conduct “such defective communication”. The strategy of limiting contacts is a consequence of the realization that the parties have too different visions of problems. Therefore, you need to talk on the basis of a realistic definition of the position.
Communication with authoritarian regimes needs to be built in a new way - without historical romance and self-deception, deliberately, clearly, with stingy conversations and the necessary harshness
- summed up Segbers, urging Germany to abandon the Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline.