Toughness as tactics: Dmitri Trenin’s speech to Chatham House

Russia and the US/NATO

Russia is still in a state of transition, but is not the Soviet Union and will not adopt Soviet Union international relations. The relationship with the US and NATO is precarious. Trenin believes that NATO’s expansion has reached the edge of its safe limits – any proposals must be fully transparent in intention. Is it because the West views Russia as a threat, or is it there to help budding democratic states stabilise? If it is the later, NATO must transform away from military deterrence of Russia. The Bush administration largely neglected Russian relations, and the Russian-Georgia situation is, in part, a result. Obama provided hope for improvement.

Russia’s main problem is its inability to communicate effectively its objectives:

*  No US/NATO forces in the CIS

*  No military deployments near Russian borders, including ballistic missiles

*  To be engaged on any military/security planning in the region

Russia and China

Russia admires China’s ability to grow while maintaining its national identity. Russia acknowledges that China has surpassed Russia in many economic, political and even military aspects – it presents a challenge to Russia, but not a threat.

Russia and Georgia/Ukraine

How differently each side sees the situation! Georgia asking where Russia will strike next? and is Russia regaining its dominance in the region? And Russia asked where will we be provoked again?, viewing the Georgian attack on South Ossetia as forcing Russia to defend the ethnic Russian minority. He believed Ukraine was looking for the best of both worlds, and is split down the middle. Russia’s stance on the Ukraine was Independence means others stop paying for you.

Russia and multilateralism

The future of Russia and multilateralism does not look good. He half joked that the only aspect Russia liked about the UN was its veto power. He does not expect Russia to pay attention the UN in the future. However, he also said that a different kind of Russia may emerge from the current economic crisis that will respond intelligently and in a C21st manner.

Recommendations to the West

*  We must think strategically (not ideologically) about Russia.

*  Russian concerns are genuine. Failure to treat them seriously will result in increased tension and aggression, as seen in Georgia.

*  A European-Russian dialogue needs to be invoked, or else the situation will deteriorate.

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