Mankoff.2007 - Russia and the West: Taking the Longer View...

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Russia and the West: Taking the Longer View Mankoff, Jeffrey. The Washington Quarterly, Volume 30, Number 2, Spring 2007, pp. 123-135 (Article) Published by The MIT Press For additional information about this article Access Provided by The University Of Texas at Austin, General Libraries at 07/01/11 7:05PM GMT http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/wq/summary/v030/30.2mankoff.html
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Jeffrey Mankoff Russia and the West: Taking the Longer View © 2007 by The Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Massachusetts Insti- tute of Technology The Washington Quarterly • 30:2 pp. 123–135. T HE W ASHINGTON Q UARTERLY S PRING 2007 123 Jeffrey Mankoff is a postdoctoral fellow at the John M. Olin Institute for Strategic Studies at Harvard University. T he furor surrounding the November 2006 death of ex-spy Alek- sandr Litvinenko from radiation poisoning hearkened back uncomfortably to the days of the Cold War. Although it remains to be seen exactly who ordered Litvinenko’s death, the assassination of prominent Kremlin opponents has re- inforced a growing Western perception that President Vladimir Putin’s Russia is abandoning the West and, as in the days of the Cold War, is setting itself up as a serious rival to the agenda of spreading freedom and democracy around the globe. This view of Russia as a rival reemerged with a vengeance in early 2006 following the crisis over Russian gas deliveries to Ukraine, when it appeared Moscow was using its control of natural resources to pressure Kyiv into aban- doning its pro-Western foreign policy. The Kremlin’s decision to challenge Western participation in several major oil and gas exploration projects, no- tably Sakhalin-2, and its prominent support for separatist rebels in Georgia (South Ossetia and Abkhazia) and Moldova (Transdnistria) had exacerbated tension with the West even before the shocking deaths of Litvinenko and in- vestigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya in late 2006. An independent task force commissioned by the Council on Foreign Relations warned as early as March 2006 that “cooperation [between Russia and the West] is becoming the exception, not the norm.” 1 Although relations with Russia are in a difficult phase at the moment, it is important to avoid overreacting and concluding that the Kremlin is newly in- tent on challenging the West. This all too common view ignores the trajectory of Russian foreign policy over the longer term, which suggests that Moscow
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l Jeffrey Mankoff T HE W ASHINGTON Q UARTERLY S PRING 2007 124 has little desire for confrontation. In foreign policy terms, Russian behavior in 2006 has been quite consistent with the strategy pursued by the Kremlin for the past decade, whose fundamental component is not challenging Western influence but proving that Moscow still matters internationally.
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Mankoff.2007 - Russia and the West: Taking the Longer View...

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