Isolating Russia or isolating Putin?



Analysis & Opinion, Russia

US President Barack Obama says that Russia is becoming increasingly isolated as a result of Moscow’s actions and the response of the West and will become even more so if he continues is aggression, but that is not how it appears to Vladimir Putin who sees that Western leaders are always ready to come to Moscow to meet with him.

This tension – between a desire to isolate and even punish Russia for what it is doing in Ukraine and an equally powerful desire to solve the problem that by talking directly with Putin – reflects a fundamental lack of understanding of what the Kremlin leader cares about and what will affect his thinking.

Putin has shown again and again that he doesn’t care what happens to the Russian people — at least inside the Russian Federation — but he cares profoundly that he is treated as a leader equal to those of other major powers and especially of the United States. Consequently, if the West is to have an impact on him, it needs to refocus its efforts to isolate him not Russia.

At the very least, that means Western governments should talk to Moscow only at a much lower, diplomatic level. Every meeting in Moscow or Minsk with Putin to which Western leaders rush to attend reinforces Putin’s view that only elites matter, with the additional collateral damage of boosting his standing with Russians.

At a time when jet travel makes such visits easier than ever before, when telephone conversations between leaders have become the norm, and when the public and expert communities in most countries expect their most senior official to take the lead, reducing contacts with Putin while maintaining contacts with Russia won’t be easy.

But it is absolutely essential that Western leaders try because otherwise they are giving Putin something he doesn’t deserve, the simulacrum or even the reality of equal treatment by the leaders of the Western democracies, and not giving the Russian people a chance to see that the West holds him but not Russians as a whole responsible for his crimes in Ukraine.

Edited by: A. N.

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  • Richard Hoover

    Exactly,,,,,,the root,,hes a insecure maniac killer,,jealous of the west and their achievements as diplomats and statesmen,,,he wants to the WEST to be WASTE! the way he spells it!

  • Czech Friend

    Waiting for the moment when someone meeting Putler bitc hslaps him in front of all cameras. Why don’t Merkel or Hollande do something useful for once?

    • evanlarkspur

      I like it, but I think instead that he should be treated as if he has leprosy, both figuratively and literally. Frankly, honor and respect are earned, and fear is not a synonym for respect. We can fear what he might do in his madness, but that doesn’t mean we respect him, and that fear of his madness needs to tighten our hands on the wheel, our resolve, not cause us to change course.

      Merkel and Hollande, et. al., have forgotten upon what foundation the freedom, security and prosperity of “the West” lies. They apparently think (if they are thinking at all), that security and rule of law proceed from peace, and that peace is no more than the absence of gunfire. But this is wrong. Peace and security are the flowers that grow from the rule of law democratically applied to all. Rule of law must come first. And treaties recognizing borders and sovereignty are law, as are obligations of citizens and regions under Constitutions.

      If the rule of law is abandoned at the first armed challenge to it, because upholding and defending it is resulting in deaths, then we must all be prepared to be slaves to Russia, since we obviously will back down from any encounter in which we must risk lives to uphold the rule of law. But I do not agree, and do not capitulate. Give me freedom, or give me death. I will not shrink from defending law, even though I and others like me must lay down our lives. Law must be defended and upheld above all else. For only in law do security and peace itself reside.

      • Czech Friend

        Well said!

        We are being forced into abandoning rule of law and everything we stand for and our forefathers foughr and built over centuries. All the sacrifices being erased with the capitulation towards a bully- not stronger than us, not smarter than us, not anything better than us! And we are supposed to kneel down in front this ugly savage?!

        NO WAY!

        • evanlarkspur

          Only more brital than us.

          as you say: No way.

  • Brent

    This is exactly how the ‘evil liberal West’ should treat Putin. Like “Kim Jong Russki”. You want to act like our crazy loudmouthed uncle, we stop inviting you over for our Christmas.

    Obama likes to believe he needs Russia to negotiate with other rogue states. I think this is why those negotiations fail with countries like Syria and Iran. Why should we include Russia in those negotiations? They are the ones supporting those terrorist countries and they want them to continue to promote anarchy in those regions so it keeps the West busy and unable to attend to the matters that need to be in Russia’s backyard.

    Look at how fruitful the recent negotiations with Cuba were. America’s closest ‘enemy’. Was Russia involved in any negotiattions? Not at all. Was there some success? Absolutely. Russia wants to return to the times of their supposed Great Soviet Empire? See ya!!!

    • sandy miller

      With all due respect…it doesn’t matter what you say. The call should be for USA and NATO to get arms and boots on the ground on the Ukrainian border. period. Putin and his criminal regime is having a good laugh at the West expense since he’s showing them up for who they are. The west is willing to bomb small countries but they absolutely cower when it comes to Russia. Putin has done enough damage to his own people as well as others in the world. He needs to be stopped not with more sanctions but with force. It’s the only thing he respects. My God the west should be so ashamed for their cowardly behavior towards this criminal thug. All they’ve done is shown concern and begged him to stop. He’s killing Ukraine and raping the west.

      • Czech Friend

        one tiny little thing explaining for the Western leaders cowardice is perhaps their false belief they will beat Putin without military confrontation. But the KGB rat criminal is unfortuantely not as stupid as he is evil.

        • evanlarkspur

          I disagree. I think there is a lot if evidence that he is extremely stupid. But stupid people can do a nearly unbelievable amount of damage, mostly because they simply aren’t smart enough to know when they need to quit. Sure, they end up killing themselves I their stupidity, but they take a lot of people with them.

          Putin IS indeed killing himself. But he’s killing hundreds of thousands besides himself too (I count here the damage being done to Russians, which I believe will be truly horrendous).

  • Fred Hernandez

    I am confident our great western leaders will finally agree to stop Putin once the Czech-Hungary-Serbia-Greece&Russian Pact of 2015 is signed and Russian troops are bordering Austria and Germany. Regardless of the 100k civilians killed so far our leaders wanted to give diplomacy a last chance. Of course the 20 NATO troops stationed in Estonia and killed when Russia moved in were just a small price to pay to give peace a chance.
    When will these people understand ‘doing nothing’ is not a policy!!!!

  • Charles J. Kollman

    Mr. Putin is all about him self meaning only Putin is important. People in Russia like The US are sleeping and have been programed. Putin must be brought down on his knees he must feel pain. This is the only thing that the EX KGB Officer understands. He for sure needs a good fucking. It will happen when the people wake the fuck-up.

  • gmab

    While the “diplomacy” soap opera in the West drags on, here’s one of today’s headlines – [email protected]@DajeyPetros

    Putin just sent a diplomatic message to Merkel and Obama. They can pick it up in #Kramatorsk now.
    More Ukrainian victims many miles away from the war zone.

  • Michel Cloarec

    What would happen if MacDonald closed all the restaurants ?