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Russian roulette

The next few months could see the emergence of a new and altogether less predictable Russia. Forthcoming Duma and presidential elections will see gains for nationalistic, anti-western politicians. Having abandoned Marxism, the Russian political class may now be on the verge of exchanging liberal democracy for an ancient form of Muscovite statecraft. Bruce Clark assesses the impact of the new Russia on east-west relations

By Bruce Clark   November 1995

Most westerners have come to regard the Russian bear as a mangy and enfeebled creature, but its growl can still command respect, and even fear. When Boris Yeltsin recently held forth against the expansion of Nato, he plainly intended to disturb westerners-and impress his own compatriots-by sounding as blood-curdling as he possibly could. He succeeded quite well. He produced some astonishing statements: one move to bring countries such as Poland, Hungary and the Czech republic into the embrace of the western defence system would “cast Europe into the flames of war” and force Russia to form a new, well-armed military…

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