The Russian bear is awake. But this is not a Russia restored to past greatness. It is caught in a failed transition. So long as this continues, Russia will disturb its neighbours and disappoint its citizens. Is there a chance of something better? Yes, but it is a small one. Vladimir Putin expressed the attitudes of the new Russia, at once assertive and aggrieved, at the 43rd Munich conference on security policy this month. “I think it is obvious,” the president stated, “that Nato expansion does not have any relation with the modernisation of the alliance itself or with ensuring security in Europe. On the contrary, it represents a serious provocation that reduces the level of mutual trust. And we have the right to ask: against whom is this expansion intended?” Mr Putin knows the answer to this question, but does not address a deeper one, because the answer would be too painful: why do Russia’s neighbours trust it so little? For it is they who wish to join Nato, not Nato that has forced itself upon them. This is because his country brought oppression and mass murder upon them, as it is doing now in Chechnya. The remainder of Martin Wolf’s column can be read here (FT.com subscribers only). Discussion from our guest economists is free.
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