Russia, Georgia, the world in 2009: Sergey Karaganov
Sergey Karaganov, born in 1952, heads the Council for Foreign and Defence Policy. He is regarded as one of Russia's top foreign policy experts. In 2005, Foreign Policy and The Prospect (UK) ranked Sergey Karaganov among the world's top 100 public intellectuals. Karaganov's research interests focus primarily on Russian foreign and defence policies, as well as the security and economic aspects of Russian-European relations. Karaganov previously advised former presidents Yeltsin and Putin on foreign policy issues.
An article in the June 2009 issue of Russia in Global Affairs sets out his view of Russian-EU rivalry following the Georgia war in 2008. Like many Russian observers, he sees the Kosovo war in 1999 as a turning point in that it convinced Russians that the West could not be trusted:
"This New Epoch is characterized by increased tensions between Russia and the traditional (in Cold War terms) West, caused by objective changes in the alignment of forces and by Moscow's tough and even arrogant policy of revising the model of relations with the West, which had taken shape in the years of chaos and destruction in Russia. The growing tensions expanded into a direct confrontation when Georgia attacked South Ossetia and was defeated. This conflict has shown that, despite assurances from all parties, the Cold War has never ended."
"… in 1999, the United States and European nations, euphoric with feelings of victory in the Cold War and of their rightfulness and impunity, attacked Yugoslavia. Russia's attitude towards the West underwent an important psychological change. Moscow imagined itself repeating the fate of Belgrade bombed by NATO and a process began that led to a profound estrangement between Russia and NATO ... It was the first time since World War II that one country or a group of countries in Europe attacked another European state. There had been many shameful episodes during the Cold War. For example, in the mid-1940s, a British expeditionary corps crushed the Communist guerrilla movement in Greece. In 1953, the East German authorities ordered the opening of fire at a demonstration of workers. In 1956, Soviet tanks suppressed an uprising in Budapest. In 1961, the East German authorities, acting on approval from Moscow, built the Berlin Wall. In 1968, troops from the Soviet Union and its allies invaded Czechoslovakia to put an end to the Prague Spring. Yet towns and cities had not been the targets of air strikes since World War II."
He also describes what he considers false, even naïve, hopes after 1989:
"It seemed that liberal democracy, U.S.-European style, had finally won. But the experience of the past years has shown that this type of political and economic system has only taken root in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. They have received huge economic aid