Dear Sergey

Dear Sergey,

I read with great interest your comments on NATO and global security published in the Guardian, and as Russia’s Minister of Defense, I should hope that others gave careful consideration to the conclusions of your article. 

However I do regret that there will likely be many people who will not give much consideration to Russia’s arguments over its security concerns for several reasons.  Dear Sergey, I hope that you understand that the rest of the world would take these kinds of arguments and pleas for international law much more seriously, if only the commitment within Russia to rule of law could be reaffirmed.  Unfortunately, that has not been the case, and a significant depletion of the country’s soft power appears to be well underway.

The recent murders of high profile lawyersand journalists actually directly implicates Russia’s international relations, and makes a powerful impact on the government’s ability to achieve its security objectives in cooperation with other nations.  The suspension of disbelief over the sincerity of Russian official statements, its needs and desires frominternational community, has become too burdensome to uphold for many.  Among other recent events which have led many to gently describe Russia’s engagement as “confrontational,” we have the recent gas war with Ukraine and war withGeorgia, which has caused individuals to pause with wonder.  How is it, we are left pondering, that Russia’s leadership has the ability to ask the world to say what they say yet alsonot do what they do. 

In a moment of critical economic crisis, in which cooperation among world powers is most assuredly a mutual interest for all parties involved, we have more confrontation and contradiction coming out of all official organs.  Mr. Putin’s Davos speech is the economicequivalent of your plea for a new international security architecture.  With all due respect, thestatements made in the Guardian article are completely outside the character of Russia’s actions, andnow that oil is no longer at $150 per barrel, some pundits who are in less fear oflosing their visas are starting to speak up and point out thesecontradictions.

We are all living in a whole new world of accelerated historical change, and there are many, including myself,who believe that Russia deserves to be taken seriously with respect toits legitimate security needs.  For that to occur, concrete changesmust be implemented in both the domestic and international conduct of the state in order to rebuild credibility and a sense of sincereity.  The zero sum game that Russia has made out of energy, including attempts to establish an OPEC-like natural gas cartel runsagainst the security concerns of the very people to whom the Guardianappeal is addressed.

With the understanding that such comments and ideas are extremely unlikely to be reviewed by your offices, I respectfully defer to you to observe the relative success and/or failures of Russia’s attempts to meet its own security needs in its relations with the exterior in an environment of pointed hostility and confrontation, as compared to what could be achieved in a different context of openness, sincerity, transparency, and a demonstrated commitment to the lofty principles so often outlined in official speeches and articles.

Robert Amsterdam