Russia as Political Paradox

Wednesday, October 18, 2017 - 12:15pm to 2:00pm
Lilia Shevtsova profile photo

CGIS South Building, 1730 Cambridge Street, Room S354

Russia’s return to the global scene not only as the spoiler and opponent of the West, but as the state-civilization that aims to influence the internal developments in the Western society creates a new intellectual and geopolitical challenge. Much weaker state than the Soviet Union has more ability to create mischief for the West than the powerful Communist empire! Meanwhile, the Western debates on how constrain Russia and how to engage it give an impression of helplessness – so far all efforts to guarantee working relationship with Russia have not succeeded.

We are dealing with situation without historical precedence. Russia failed to transform itself into a liberal power. The System has built a new mechanism of survival by dumping the Soviet state and Communism, and by mimicking the liberal standards. This is a unique case when the state-civilization gets adrenalin not by openly combatting its opponent but by sucking its resources, undermining it from inside and discrediting its principles.

The collapse of the Soviet Union left the West without ideological alternative bringing complacency and readiness to accept normative fuzziness. Watering down the borders between principles - sovereignty and interference, war and peace, rule of law and lawlessness became the best environment for illiberal systems.

The new Russia-West conundrum reflects the beginning of a new époque that will need reassessment of many axioms of the post-Cold War era and honest analysis of the new reality.

Today we could deliberate on the following questions:

  • Does the Kremlin really want confrontation with the West?
  • Is the Kremlin ready to fight for the “spheres of influence”?
  • Does the Russian elite want the return to Cold War?
  • Is the Russian society ready to live in the Besieged Fortress?
  • What does Trump Presidency mean for the Kremlin mechanism of survival?

Lilia Shevtsova, Davis Senior Scholar; Russian political analyst; leading researcher, Russian Academy of Sciences; Associate Fellow, Russia and Eurasia Program, Chatham House (London)

Sponsored by the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies.

For more information, please call 617-495-4037.