By contributing to a mature dialogue with Moscow aiming at developing policies that will satisfy the entire trans-Atlantic community Poland has an opportunity to become a co-architect of the relations between the West and Russia. It can also overcome historic entanglement with our largest eastern neighbour.
The conflict between Russia and the West originates from the weakness of Russia but it is its future that will largely define the power and resilience of the trans-Atlantic community. Poland is the largest NATO/EU member that borders on Russia. Moreover, it borders on Ukraine, a country that is effectively in war with Moscow. Relations with Russia is one of the major 'big games' in Europe played by Poland as they broadly affect security and prosperity in the region. If Poland wants to be played with and not by others it is critical that it takes an active part in the conflict management and resolution process.
In his comments on Ukraine-related statements by Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, US President Barak Obama said: “I know President Putin seems to have a different set of lawyers, maybe a different set of interpretations”. In fact, Obama was quite circumspect. German Chancellor Angela Merkel was blunt. Addressing the Bundestag, she said: “During the Ukrainian crisis, Russia followed the law of the jungle dating back to 19th and 20th centuries”. What does it all mean - enemy intrigue, attacks by geopolitical competitors seeking global domination? Still, even though it had been complicated before, the cooperation development logic did not involve such breakdowns. Is it truly about law? Let us try and sort it out.
Russia’s current regime will not last long. The tumultuous events in Ukraine in 2014 reduced the country’s possible trajectories to a single one – a path that will quickly lead to the collapse of the Putin government if there is no radical change in its course.
Before the Crimea–Ukraine affair, it looked as though President Vladimir Putin’s political regime was fairly stable and could last for several years without profound change. However, there was a qualitative shift in the regime’s character after 2014. Now, it draws its legitimacy from military action, rather than from the ballot box. The roots of this shift go back to the political crisis of 2011–2012, when mass anti-government protests and poor electoral results for the ruling party showed that the old form of politics was coming to an end. (more…)
Since his rise to power in 2000 Vladimir Putin has had two major priorities: ‘control’ at home and ‘sovereignty’ on the world scene. The importance of these two priorities has not eclipsed other goals, such as economic development, but the latter has always been secondary to the foremost priorities cited above. Throughout the ‘softer’ period of his rule, up until his presidential comeback in 2012, Putin was able to balance his main and his secondary objectives: the economy kept growing while domestically Putin set about systematically removing political opposition and competition, and ensured unchallenged power for himself. He successfully resisted the attempts of the West to interfere in Russian domestic affairs, but the Russian economy benefited from lucrative economic cooperation with Western nations. (more…)