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Dr Sergei Karaganov, Deputy Director, Institute of Europe Academy of Sciences,
argues that the collapse of Russian communism challenged the west, and
the west failed the challenge. With the end of the Cold War, most Russians
would have liked to become more European, and for Russia to have joined
Nato, for example. But the West rejected Russia, perhaps because embracing
multi-cultural and multi-ethnic Russia would have meant the West would
have to change deeply as well. Now the world has to live with the consequences
of that rejection.
The main consequence
is instability. Russia itself is unstable, and it is simply too big a
country for this to be irrelevant to the world. The west's bad advice
and misplaced aid undermined western moral authority for Russians, and
sowed the seeds for the corruption and criminality that are now current.
Worse, the west's intervention in the Balkans, particularly in Kosovo,
was seen as a betrayal and a threat by Russia and other non-western states.
Most likely this has re-energized the global arms race: within a few years
we could see nuclear tension developing between countries like Iran and
Israel, or China and Japan.
Yet Dr Karaganov
argues that Russia does not challenge the global order. Changes in global
economics and information flows are doing the real challenging, and undermining
the ability of governments to govern. In Russia there is a reaction to
this, a shift back towards authoritarian government. But this may only
be a detour on the road to democracy. If the West can stop expanding militarily,
return to the global consensus that it broke when it intervened in the
Balkans, and forge a new relationship with Russia, then in twenty years
time the world could settle into a new stability.