Jan 31, 2022·edited Jan 31, 2022

One of the traditional problems faced by autocrats is that they often have no exit strategy that guarantees their lives and/or fortunes. So they tend to stay on until the very end and to the impoverishment of their people. If that principle applies to Putin, then shouldn’t the EU offer Russia a “Peter the Great Program” by which I mean a series of incentives leading to the greater assimilation of Russian into the European economy and, ultimately, way of thinking? Such a program could appeal to the Russian People’s sense of History (by finishing the job begun by one of their most famous historical figures) and their desire to be taking and treated seriously by Europe, while providing Putin with something of an off-ramp toward retirement.

It seems to me that Russia has an historic choice to make as to its long term survival between increasingly closer ties to Europe and risking becoming a wholly owned subsidiary of China. An outreach along the lines of a “Peter the Great Program” might be a productive alternative to constant instability and saber-rattling (if not outright conflict). I suspect the average Russian might, at a minimum, favor limiting corruption and cronyism while putting the Russian economy on a surer footing.

I would hope someone is giving some thought to such a project. Perhaps Prof. Tooze might sketch out the broad outlines of what such a project might look like, unless he finds the approach a non-starter.

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Feb 2, 2022·edited Feb 2, 2022

Perhaps this line offers one plausible understanding of the Russian advantage to pressing, in their way, Ukraine: "neither one [Russian] group, nor the other, knows what Putin really wants to get from the West and Ukraine". By pressing, Putin is also plumbing the extent of domestic will and desire among Russian citizens, to "make a hard break" from the previous rather soft unilateral US geopolitical dominance status quo of the world.... Russians will have to "get on board" on one platform or other soon, maybe that platform is to fully engage China as a suitor would. The US and west are basically saying "bring it": They've lined up in UAE (to face Iran), Ukraine, and South China Sea AT ONCE. Globalization is OVER. Costs are coming on all sides soon.

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One thing struck me: the Christie thread could be turned around and remain equally correct.

"Hard for non-Westerners to understand and accept, but this means there is no brighter future to look forward to, there is no sunlit upland to get to after going through a rough patch with Washington, the opposition is permanent, and the conflict is permanent, already now.

Deep down we ought to know this - think of election interference, military threats, assassinations on our soil, deliberate deception and manipulation on the part of American officials, permanent espionage.

And yet we keep on expecting some magical moment, some clarity, maybe some catharsis even. But that is not the way of the American Regime. Expect no fixed point, always expect a sliding scale of ambitions and full-spectrum violence."

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Great article, very informative. One thing that I was mulling though is that Biden administration cannot afford to let Putin walk away from this escalation as a winner. Nor majority of other Western countries governments; they are on the same page despite their Russia' dependence on oil and gas. They see Putin as the great villain that destabilize their democratic system and floods far rights with cash (and they are correct). And so if formally China is on top of US agenda, that is still a negotiable venue: China economy needs US and vice versa after all. Taiwan can be negotiated. Not so much with Putin' Russia (where population is scared still but tired of Putin' - as well as his vassals’ dictatorial regimes). I have the feeling that the sudden pull out from Afghanistan was also to prepare to address this threat. The more Lavrov does Gromyko the more weapons will be positioned. Then a sudden implementation of Magnitsky act can make Putin misstep.

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