Our Deep Sleep about Russia

Edward Lucas is interviewed by Charlie Gillis of Maclean’s:

Q: You do, however, compare the West’s view of Russia today to the one we held in the 1930s. You also draw a parallel to Neville Chamberlain’s appeasement of Nazi Germany. A: I’m trying to wake people up. I think we’ve been in a pretty deep sleep about Russia. There’s been a lot of wishful thinking, and I use the comparisons with the Third Reich because it’s important to remember that the two totalitarian empires were pretty similar before the war. Stalin was killing more people than Hitler at that time, and we tend to forget how much the Soviet totalitarian past still overshadows Russia. So I make the historical comparisons so people will remember. When Putin says the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact [of non-aggression between Germany and the Soviet Union in 1939, which divided the potential spoils of war in eastern Europe] is legal, that would be as shocking as if a German leader said the anschluss, or the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia, was legal. It’s as shocking, in a way, to have a former KGB official running Russia as it would be to have a former SS colonel running Germany.