18 October 2018
Moscow: 21:15
London: 19:15

Consular queries:  
+44 (0) 203 668 7474  



The opinions expressed by the authors of the articles in this section are for discussion purposes only and may not coincide with the position of the Russian Government and the Embassy


The Drive to Blame Russia

NEW YORK — President Obama’s decision to cancel his September meeting with President Vladimir Putin was heartily welcomed by a broad swath of the American political class. In the view of many American critics of Putin and the Kremlin, it was about time to punish Russia. Were it not for Russia, their argument goes, not only would Edward Snowden now be facing justice in the United States, but President Bashar al-Assad of Syria would have been removed and the civil war ended, Iran would have forsworn its nuclear weapons program, and Ukraine and Georgia would be flourishing democracies solidly anchored in the West.

Why is Russia always at fault? Why the persistent calls to punish it?

To be sure, Russia often takes positions contrary to those of the United States, and the Kremlin is an easy target for criticism. Putin’s pugnacious style, his evident glee at poking the United States in the eye, along with his mounting appeals to xenophobic, baser sentiments to shore up his domestic position, all rub Americans the wrong way.

Yet the vehemence of calls for punishment is divorced from the real challenge Russia poses on the world stage. The truth is that the country is now less of a threat than at any time since World War II, and its potential to shape global affairs pales in comparison with that of the United States.

Russia is not the Soviet Union; it offers no compelling ideological alternative, nor is it about to invent one. And even though Putin harbors dreams of restoring Russia’s pre-eminence throughout the former Soviet space, China, various Islamic movements and Europe are all contesting Moscow’s influence along its periphery and, at times, within Russia itself.

Cold War reflexes still play a big role in the current tensions with Moscow, even if the Russian menace is not what it used to be. The generation that sits atop America’s national security apparatus, occupies leadership positions in Congress and heads its editorial boards came of age in the later stages of the Cold War and remembers how the Soviet threat concentrated minds.

Ironically, the decreased menace of a onetime superpower also encourages the temptation to blame Russia, for few believe it can impose any serious costs on the United States. No robust commercial relationship or delicately balanced economic interdependence is at risk, as it would with China. There is no threat of military confrontation, given Russia’s diminished conventional capabilities. And even if Russia remains the only country that could annihilate the United States in 30 minutes, who fears intemperate words will cancel the logic of mutually assured destruction?

A deeper, unacknowledged psychological reason also drives Americans to blame Russia. Simply put, it has denied them the final, morally satisfying victory in the Cold War by refusing to take the path to free-market democracy they prescribed as the endpoint of the exit from totalitarian communism. Victory is complete only when your enemies decide to emulate you. That is what Germany and Japan did after World War II, and that is why Americans look back at that war as the “good” war and at those two countries as their closest of allies today.

Putin’s Russia has refused to take that path and every day takes a step toward a different destination guided by Russia’s undemocratic political tradition. And so Americans lash out at Russia.

This lashing out, however emotionally satisfying, comes at a significant cost. Most damaging, it obscures the extent to which Americans create their own problems and shifts attention from what they can and should do to overcome them — whether it’s protecting national secrets from the likes of a Edward Snowden or developing and executing a consistent, intelligible policy toward Syria and Iran.

Moreover, Americans seem to lash out at Russia with increasing vitriol as their frustration grows with the political dysfunction in Washington and ineptitude of U.S. foreign policy. In other words, the intensity of the criticism has less to do with Russia’s behavior than with the state of America’s progress in overcoming its own deficiencies.

None of this means that the United States should not criticize Russia. But it should do so only when the link between Russia and whatever issue arises is clear and significant — and when American steps are likely to induce changes in Russia’s behavior that advance concrete goals. Canceling the summit meeting in Moscow fails on both counts.

The other ways of punishing Russia that have been bruited — boycotting the Olympics, admitting Georgia into NATO, accelerating the U.S. missile defense program — are also unlikely to have much positive effect. Rather, if the United States really wanted to stand up and send a message to Putin, it would put its own house in order and demonstrate that it has the creativity and wisdom to craft, and the will and skill to execute, policies to advance its interests.


By Thomas E. Graham, International Herald Tribune

Thomas Graham was the senior director for Russia on the U.S. National Security Council staff from 2004 to 2007.



The current round phase of Russia’s pivot to the East was conceived in the second half of the 2000s as a largely belated economic response to the rise of Asia, which opened up a plethora of opportunities for the development of the country and primarily its eastern regions. This rise offered a chance to turn the territory beyond the Urals and the Russian Far East from predominantly an imperial burden or rear in the confrontation with the West, and sometimes the forefront in the rivalry with Japan or China, into a springboard for the development of the whole country.


Oleg Barabanov, Timofey Bordachev, Fyodor Lukyanov, Andrey Sushentsov, Dmitry Suslov, Ivan Timofeev, Moscow, February 2017

18.02.2017 - Global riot and global order. Revolutionary situation in the world and what to do about it - report by Valdai discussion club

(Report in Russian, English version to be published shortly) Спустя много лет после студенческих волнений, которые охватили практически весь мир в 1968 году, активист тогдашнего движения Даниэль Кон-Бендит так вспоминал суть происходившего: «Это было восстание поколения, родившегося после Второй мировой войны, против общества, которое военное поколение построило после 1945 года». Бунт проявлялся по-разному– в зависимости от места действия. В Варшаве и Праге люди протестовали против коммунистического режима, в Париже и Франкфурте клеймил и буржуазно-консервативное засилье, в Сан-Франциско и Нью-Йорке возмущались милитаризмом и неравноправием, а в Исламабаде и Стамбуле отвергали власть военных. Всех объединяло нежелание житьпо-старому.«Мы были первым медиапоколением. СМИ играли большую роль, потому что они передавали искру жгучего неприятия, и она воспламеняла одну страну за другой», – вспоминал Кон-Бендит.

03.02.2017 - Sergei Karaganov, Dean of the School of International Economics and Foreign Affairs of the National Research University Higher School of Economics, Honorary Chairman of the Presidium of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy, "A view from Moscow"

The victory of Donald Trump reinforced international tendencies, which had been obvious for Russians and which had been guiding Russian behavior for last few years. Among them – deglobalization led by forces, which previously created it, but started to retreat from it, when they saw that it benefits others equally or more. The change in correlation of forces against the old world and towards Asia will continue, though at somewhat slower pace than in previous decades. China will continue to become in the very foreseeable future an equal to the U.S. in cumulative power. Europe of the EU will continue to muddle down. (Hopefully, not towards a collapse, but something leaner, more stable and healthier like a Common market, Schengen minus, two Eurozones or a Eurozone minus). The rivalry between the U.S. and China will continue to exacerbate. The confrontation between Russia and the West will continue, but will gradually dampen.

20.08.2015 - The Interview: Henry Kissinger

The National Interest’s editor, Jacob Heilbrunn, spoke with Henry Kissinger in early July in New York.

10.08.2015 - "Shame on UK for Sham Litvinenko Trial", by William Dunkerley for "Eurasia review"

What started off as a massive fabrication in 2006 just received a great boost from a complicit British government. The mysterious polonium death of reputed former KGB spy Alexander Litvinenko is the focus. An inexplicably long series of official UK hearings on this nearly 9 year old case has just concluded. That’s prompted a new flurry of sensational media reports.

02.06.2015 - Eurasian Way Out of the European Crisis (Article by Sergei Karaganov, to be published in late June in "Russian in Global Affairs")

I have already written before that having emerged victorious from the Cold War, Europe lost the post-war peace. The continent is on the verge of strategic degradation that may either become a caricature of military-political division into opposing blocs or a time of disquieting uncertainty. The military-political conflict over Ukraine can escalate as well.

13.03.2015 - NEW RULES OR NO RULES? XI Annual Valdai Discussion Club Meeting Participants' Report

In Search of an Order For those who believe in the magic of numbers, the year 2014 was further proof in its existence. The World War I centenary had been anticipated in awe and History, by taking another dramatic twist, confirmed the worst of expectations. It pronounced that centuries-old conflicts are still with us and that such concepts as the balance of powers, borders, and sovereignty are still relevant even in the era of a global interdependence.

15.09.2014 - Western delusions triggered this conflict and Russians will not yield (by Professor Sergey Karaganov for FT)

The west is without direction and losing sight of moral convictions, writes Sergey Karaganov

29.05.2014 - It’s not just about gas: why China needs Russia (by Fyodor Lukyanov, Editor in chief of the journal Russia in Global Affairs, Chairman of Presidium of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy)

In a pre-election article published a little over two years ago, Vladimir Putin wrote that Russia wanted to harness the Chinese wind for its sails of development. Every sailor knows that in stormy weather, and the world is a stormy place today, controlling a sailing ship is incredibly difficult. But by working skilfully there is a chance of inching one's goal much faster.

all messages