Is Vladimir Putin's Russia a threat to the liberal west? Our contributors duke it outby Kendall and Lieven / September 25, 2017 / Leave a comment
Published in November 2017 issue of Prospect Magazine
Bridget Kendall: Yes
If by “Russia” we mean President Vladimir Putin’s government and not the Russian people, and if “we” means western liberal democracies, then yes, I think it would be wise to fear the Russian bear.
I am not saying that Russia is a bigger threat than Islamic jihadists or North Korea. But nor do I accept that Russia is benign. It could be an important collaborator. Instead at the moment it seems bent on being a dangerous disrupter.
You know why Russia matters. It is the world’s biggest landmass, with a large nuclear arsenal. It is a major exporter of hydrocarbons, agriculture and weaponry, and a major power at the United Nations.
Yet Putin seems intent on using his influence destructively. He often wields his UN veto. He bullies his neighbours and plays on western weakness to make Russia look stronger. He proclaims that he no longer intends to play “by the rules of the game”—I think we were both there at the Valdai conference in 2014 when he first said it.