Relations between the West and Russia are at their lowest point in more than thirty years. Change will only come with new leadership in the Kremlin.
Moscow’s warnings of a “new Cold War” are out of sync with today’s realities.
The hard line on Vladimir Putin is weakening, in Germany and elsewhere.
It’s clear that Europe needs a new relationship with Moscow. But it cannot be one that sacrifices European values of democracy and self-determination for stability.
Europe needs to craft a short-term strategy to contain Moscow’s power and a long-term strategy to reengage with Russian interests. As the poet Rainer Maria Rilke said, “To endure is all.”
It will be hard for the EU to admit that its postmodern dream of an eternally peaceful European security order is out of reach. But given Russia’s aggression, that is what it must learn to do – while bolstering its defenses.
Setting a positive agenda, reaching out to Russia’s remaining civil society, and pursuing a mixture of containment and engagement can build a more effective relationship with Russia over a long time frame.
If the West really wants to build a new relationship, then it has to understand Russia much better than it does today. Here are a few recommendations on what to avoid when patching up relations with Moscow.