Ideological manifesto of the collective West towards Russia

The Royal Institute of International Affairs of London claims that the West and Russia have no “goals and values” in common

Ideological manifesto of the collective West towards Russia
On May 13, the website of the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London, known as Chatham House, published a report entitled “Myths and Misconceptions in the Debate about Russia. The report presents, as the authors report, 16 common misconceptions that distort the debate about Russia in the Western community and “badly influence Western policy.”

The status of Chatham House is such that we are dealing here with an ideological manifesto of the collective West towards Russia.

“Contrary to the narrative of ‘betrayal of the West’ cultivated in the Russian Federation, no formal guarantees were given to the Soviet Union after 1990 about the limits of NATO expansion, the authors of the report emphasise. They claim “Moscow is distorting history in order to maintain an anti-Western consensus inside the country” and that the limits of NATO’s eastward expansion were and remain unconstrained.

Chattam House argues that when Mikhail Gorbachev agreed to incorporate a united Germany into NATO in 1990, he did not ask for or receive any guarantees regarding further expansion of the alliance. And “the NATO-Russia Founding Act (1997) recognises the “inalienable right” of all states “to choose the means to ensure their own security”. At the same time, the collapse of the Warsaw Pact and the USSR “changed the security situation in Europe and influenced the desire of many countries to join NATO”, Chatham House analysts write. And then what is Russia to complain about, the report asks.

The report has a special section on sanctions. The message is that the sanctions cannot be lifted. They are effective and must continue, the pressure on Russia must not abate.

“Politicians in the Euro-Atlantic community may refuse to acknowledge this, but Moscow’s natural state is confrontation with the West,” says the Royal Institute of International Affairs. Recognition of this fact is hampered by the fact that the Russian Federation uses unconventional hostile measures: “above the threshold of acceptable activity by peacetime standards, but below it by war standards”.

“Russia wants “great power” privileges for itself, limitations on the sovereignty of neighbouring countries and acceptance that a state cannot be criticised if its domestic policies violate the values of democracy, human rights and the rule of law. This view runs counter to core Western interests and values. A pan-European security system with Russian participation would be doomed.

Chattam House analysts reject the view that normalisation of relations with the Russian Federation is necessary because of its geopolitical weight or mutual economic interests with the West, or as compensation for Russia’s loss in the Cold War. Western efforts to cooperate with Russia on issues such as cybersecurity, trade and conflicts in the Middle East have “so far failed because of Russia’s illiberal approach to each topic”, the report argues.

Allegedly Western politicians “have been exposed to the myth that Russia and the West have some kind of common vision of the desired final state of their relations, a common desire for a favourable outcome…”. According to the Royal Institution analysts, this myth arose because, when taking peace and democratic initiatives, “the West attributed to Moscow its own goals and values, the same understanding of the main principles of world politics…”.

Certain points of the Chatham House report look anecdotal. In April 2021, US President Joe Biden, according to the report, declared his desire to build a “stable and predictable” relationship with Russia. It was, they say, a call for de-escalation, accompanied by a completely non-aggressive, “carefully calibrated” package of economic sanctions. The point, they said, was to get Russia to weigh up the benefits and risks of its various patterns of behaviour and to offer it a path towards calmer relations with the United States and the West in general. “However, there was an immediate and emotional rejection of this generous offer on Russia’s part.”

One of the main purposes of their paper, the report says, is to urge Western policymakers to reconsider their positions on Russia … “on the basis of toughness”.

In fact, the Chatham House report is a call to talk to Russia from a position of strength, following the observation that the West and Russia have no common “goals and values”.

“It’s a kind of ideological manifesto to contain Russia, couched in a rational and scientific form”, –  commented RIAC Program Director Ivan Timofeev on the appearance of this text. It’s so obvious that no comment is even needed.

Vladimir Malyshev, FSC

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