Is Russia on a collision course with the U.S. and/or the West in general, or is it just a play for the domestic audience?

Lilia Shevtsova
Shevtsova chaired the Russian Domestic Politics and Political Institutions Program at the Carnegie Moscow Center, dividing her time between Carnegie’s offices in Washington, DC, and Moscow. She had been with Carnegie since 1995.
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We have to use the word “the Kremlin.” There are different views on the West among the Russian elite. Foreign policy became for Putin a servant of domestic agenda. It has always been. But today, with the domestic mechanisms of retaining power in decline, foreign policy is becoming more important. No, Putin does not want a collision. He wants cooperation on the Kremlin’s terms. But at the same time he wants to contain the West inside Russia and outside, mainly in post-Soviet countries. This could mean more assertive Kremlin policy and a colder relationship.

Should we be worried about Russia’s increasing hostility?

You should be worried by three things. First of all, by the Kremlin’s growing hostility. Secondly, by the growing suspicion and frustration among Russian liberals who see the West’s connivance in its policy toward Russia’s regime. Thirdly, by the fact that Western policy towards Russia is undermining Western principles.

Who’s behind the current course? Just Putin or are there others as well?

Putin is presiding over the regime, but he represents the traditional part of the elite. They mutually reinforce themselves.

This article originally appeared in Metro.