- This event has passed.
Moscow Rules: What Drives Russia to Confront the West
20 May @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
The relationship between Russia and the West is once again deep in crisis. A major reason for this is that Western leaders have too often believed (or hoped) that Russia sees the world as they do. But things look very different from Moscow. In confronting the West, Russia is implementing strategic and doctrinal approaches that have been consistent for centuries. The roots of current Russian behaviour and demands can be traced not just to the Soviet era, but back into Tsarist foreign and domestic policy, and further to the structure and rules of Russian society. This gives the US and the West pointers for how to — and how not to — behave in order to effectively manage the challenge posed by Russia.
The Henry Jackson Society is delighted to invite you to join Ambassador of the Republic of Latvia Baiba Braze, Keir Giles and Edward Lucas in a discussion about the relationship between the West and Russia.
H. E. Ambassador Baiba Braze has been the Ambassador of the Republic of Latvia to the UK since 2016. Her first posting abroad was to the UN in New York (1996-98), and after various appointments at the Ministry, she was posted to the Netherlands as Ambassador (2003-08). On Latvia’s accession to the EU, she vividly recalls hoisting the EU flag outside the Embassy on 1 May 2004, the same year that the country also joined NATO. As Director General of Security Policy and International Organisations (2011-16) Ms Braze dealt with NATO, the OSCE in Europe and the Council of Europe amongst others. She holds a degree in Political Science from Faculty of History and Philosophy, University of Latvia and a degree in Communication Science from Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Latvia.
Keir Giles is a senior consulting fellow of the Russia and Eurasia Programme. Keir spent the early 1990s in the former USSR. With the BBC Monitoring Service, he reported on political and economic affairs in the former Soviet Union for UK government customers. He also wrote for several years as a Russia correspondent for UK aviation journals. Other professional experience in Russia includes a period with Ernst & Young working on intricate and constantly shifting Russian business law. While attached to the UK Defence Academy’s Research and Assessment Branch (R&AB), he wrote and briefed for UK and overseas government and academic customers on Russian military, defence and security issues; Russia’s relations with NATO and with its neighbours in Northern Europe; and human factors affecting decision-making in Russia. In addition to Keir’s work with Chatham House, he leads the Conflict Studies Research Centre, a group of subject matter experts in Eurasian security.
Edward Lucas is a writer and consultant specialising in European and transatlantic security. His expertise also includes energy, cyber-security, espionage, information warfare and Russian foreign and security policy. Formerly a senior editor at The Economist, the world’s foremost newsweekly, he is now a senior vice-president at the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA). He writes a weekly column in the London Times. In 2008 he wrote The New Cold War, a prescient account of Vladimir Putin’s Russia, followed in 2011 by Deception, an investigative account of east-west espionage. His latest book is Cyberphobia. He has also contributed to books on religion and media ethics.
Dr Andrew Foxall has been Director of the Russia and Eurasia Studies Centre at the Henry Jackson Society since 2013 and in 2017 became Director of Research. Previously, Andrew held academic positions at the University of Oxford and Queen’s University Belfast. Andrew’s research focuses on economic, political and security trends in Russia and the former Soviet Union. He is the author of Ethnic Relations in Post-Soviet Russia (Routledge, 2014) and numerous academic articles.
On Monday 20th May, the Henry Jackson Society had the honour of hosting three distinguished speakers to discuss the undeniably complex relationship between the West and Russia, a dialogue in part motivated by speaker Keir Giles’ newly released book, Moscow Rules: What Drives Russia to Confront the West.
At the start of the event, Dr Andrew Foxall, Director of the Russia and Eurasia Studies Centre at the Henry Jackson Society, noted the unique expertise of the panel and then turned to Ambassador Baiba Braze, Ambassador of the Republic of Latvia to the UK, to introduce the discussion.
Ambassador Baiba Braze first praised fellow speaker Keir Giles’ recently released book and encouraged the audience to read it if they had not yet done so and then proceeded to commend fellow speaker Edward Lucas, currently of The Times, for his work pertaining to the Baltic states. Ambassador Braze then summarised the approach of the West towards Russia by clarifying the West’s most basic goal to maintain international stability, as defined in particular by Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points, and rule of law. She acknowledged that this serves the interests of Western societies and prevents the rise of authoritarian regimes, which has, in the past, lead to catastrophe. Following on from this, Ambassador Braze noted that, in order to prevent such catastrophes, Russia ought to be involved in both Western and international dialogue but, presently, having undermined Georgia and invaded Ukraine, it is instead perceived to be posing a threat.
Ms. Braze observed that the West have already initiated both restrictive measures towards Russia within the EU and legal actions by the International Court of Justice but that more needs to be done. She also mentioned that Latvia has always engaged with Russia, whilst informing its people of the risk involved, and has a fully agreed border with the country. Finally, she questioned the viability of Russia’s Project 2024, relating to becoming one of the top five economies globally and reducing poverty by 50%.
At the crux of Keir Giles’ section of speech was the contention that we ought to take stock of how Russia sees itself, in order that we might avoid making expensive mistakes. He argued that, with Russia having been such a complex issue for so long, we should be getting it right by now. Giles suggested that the first key issue is our excess of optimism, which has led to significant policy errors. Secondly, he insisted that a belief that a state of confrontation with Russia is only temporary is erroneous, also indicating that relations can indeed get worse. After this, Keir Giles suggested that the Western framework of considering the default state to be good relations is inapplicable to Russia, evidenced by its campaign of subversion directed against the West. Significantly, Giles argued that we face a Russia problem, rather than a Putin problem, and so this should be taken into account. Before passing onto Edward Lucas, Keir Giles claimed that a search for cooperation with Russia may be futile as Russia’s desired end state and its means are wholly incompatible with Western policy objectives. He suggested a return to the mental attitudes associated with the late Cold War.
Edward Lucas argued that the important question involving Russia is essentialism versus political agency. He pointed to a failure to confront the history of the empire and a massive mismatch in expectations as possible reasons for the problematic relationship with Russia today. For example, the expectation that, after 1991, Russia would become a friend and democratic partner to the West was not met. Lucas also acknowledged that our complacency and ignorance in the 1990s resulted in grave consequences for Georgians and Ukrainians. He referenced the fact that the NBP9 spend more on defence that Russia to demonstrate that we face a problem of willpower rather than means in relation to Russia. Lucas then proceeded to outline the issue that Russia, as a whole, and Putin, specifically, cannot understand the concepts of solidarity, unity and trust, which entails that we need to shift focus onto Russia, regaining our expertise in the area and encouraging people to learn the language.
Ambassador Baiba Braze then responded and made some closing remarks before opening the debate up for questions from the audience.