Will Russia be Driven from the West? (Podcast)
Will Russia be Driven from the West? Podcast by STEPHEN F. COHEN for UNZ Review
Two years ago, I asked, “Will Russia Leave the West?” The world’s largest territorial country—sprawling from its major European city St. Petersburg to its vast Far Eastern territories and long border with China—Russia cannot, of course, depart the West geographically. But it can do so politically, economically, and strategically. Indeed, where Russia belongs, where it should seek its identity, security, and future—in the East or in the West—has divided the nation’s policy-makers and intellectual elites for centuries.
In our times, as I also pointed out two years ago, a Russia departed, or driven, from the West would likely mean “a Russia—with its vast territories, immense natural resources, world-class sciences, formidable military and nuclear power, and UN Security Council veto—allied solidly with all the other emerging powers that are not part the US-NATO Western ‘world order’ and even opposed to it. And, of course, it would drive Russia increasingly afar from the West’s liberalizing influences, back toward its more authoritarian traditions.”
That’s why the controversy provoked by President Trump (and French President Emmanuel Macron) in seeking that Russia be readmitted to the G7/8, from which it was in effect expelled in 2014 for its annexation of Crimea, is so important—and so uninformed. Purportedly, the (now) G7 is the elite club of prosperous functioning democracies. In reality, Russia under President Boris Yeltsin was neither when it was admitted in 1997. The decision was political—to assure Moscow that Russia was welcome in the West and indeed part of it, potentially including its security arrangements.