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Enough Laundry Lists of Russia’s Abuses

A analyst from the Cato Institute has a letter published in the FT today in response to John McCain’s recent article on Russia.

US needs policy not laundry list to deal with Putin From Mr Justin Logan. Sir, John McCain suggests a host of issues on which we must “be firm” with Russia (“Why we must be firm with Moscow”, June 13). Nuclear targeting. Kosovo. The Conventional Forces in Europe treaty. The extradition of Andrei Lugovoi to Britain. The mysterious deaths of journalists in Russia. State-owned media. State seizure of assets. Moscow’s response to Talinn’s treatment of a Soviet war memorial. Russia’s handling of energy resources. Russian policy in Ukraine, Georgia, Iran and Sudan. What Senator McCain fails to describe is an overarching strategy for dealing with Russia. He offers not a policy, but rather a laundry list of demands that is unlikely to be met with anything other than intransigence from Moscow. By failing to prioritise his goals (might we not be willing to be less “firm” on Kosovo in exchange for enhanced Russian co-operation on Iran?), he threatens to undermine them all. The democratic depredations in Russia are real and troubling, but they would be best dealt with in a framework where Russia feels its geopolitical concerns count for something in Washington. Moscow is increasingly convinced that they do not, and Senator McCain’s essay could serve as Exhibit A for this belief. Finally, for Senator McCain, who has been a full-throated advocate of the Iraq war and of American militarism more generally, to level charges of “Napoleonic delusion” against Vladimir Putin demonstrates either a shocking lack of self-awareness or a deep sense of irony. Justin Logan Foreign Policy Analyst Cato Institute