Cold War Tit-for-Tat

Martin Wolf’s column on Russia from last week’s FT has been provoking some strong reactions, including a letter to the editor from Ambassador Yuri Fedotov. Mr. Fedotov bitterly dismisses Wolf’s criticism, citing economic growth indicators and stating that “Russia has entered the 21st century as a modern state open to the outside world, with the continued development of political institutions based on democratic principles.” This in itself is certainly not surprising, but it is Fedotov’s conclusion that may raise an eyebrow: “By describing the current state of affairs between Russia and the west as a “cold peace”, I fear that Mr Wolf is reverting to the language and approach of an era that Russia has long since abandoned.” It seems odd for Fedotov to play the innocent victim card on the same day that president-to-be Dmitri Medvedev accuses both the British Council and foreign NGOs as being fronts for Western spies, hostile to Russian interests. Both Western journalists and Russian officials are eagerly playing this game of Cold War tit-for-tat – no one is on the sidelines.