Latest Articles

Shalini Randeria, Anna Wójcik

Mobilizing law for solidarity

An interview with Shalini Randeria

Legal transnationalization takes place at different paces, setting human rights against trade and property protections, argues social anthropologist Shalini Randeria. The instrumentalization of solidarity by nascent ethno-nationalism must be resisted at the political not the legal level. [ more ]

Ira Katznelson, Agnieszka Rosner

Solidarity after Machiavelli

Camille Leprince, Lynn SK

Portraits of three women...

Ilaria Morani

Street art, power and patronage

Eurozine Review

Eurozine Review

The destruction of society

'Osteuropa' rages at the destruction of Russian society; 'Merkur' delves into the history of Eurasianism; 'Vikerkaar' is sanguine about the decline of universalism; 'New Eastern Europe' has divided opinions about borders; 'Ord&Bild' finds humanism at sea; 'Il Mulino' debates the difficulties of democracy in Italy and the West; 'Blätter' seeks responses to the whitelash; 'Mittelweg 36' historicizes pop and protest; 'Critique & Humanism' looks at Bulgarian youth cultures; 'Res Publica Nowa' considers labour; and 'Varlik' examines the origins of literary modernism in Turkey.

Eurozine Review

The ordinary state of emergency

Eurozine Review

The Lilliput syndrome

Eurozine Review

The violent closet?

Eurozine Review

Peak democracy?

My Eurozine

If you want to be kept up to date, you can subscribe to Eurozine's rss-newsfeed or our Newsletter.

Share |

How to win Cold War II

The West must start to put its long-term interests above the instant gratification of London bankers, German gas traders and real estate dealers all over Europe, who are yearning for Russian money. Then the new Cold War can be won, writes Vladislav Inozemtsev.

In a recent Facebook update, one of the most knowledgeable western experts on Russia, the former US Ambassador in Moscow Michael McFaul accepted the obvious: "Tragically, we are entering a new period with some important differences, but many similarities to the Cold War". McFaul expressed the hope "that this dark period will not last as long as the last Cold War". This is an important step towards grasping the situation in realistic terms, a step that the entire western world has been extremely reluctant to take. One could only hope that the US and Europe would follow the example of an experienced political expert and stop seeing in Vladimir Putin a man of decent intentions.

Pipes for the transportation of gas. Photo: Steffen Sameiske. Source: Flickr

If they did, everything would fall into place. The Russian post-communist revanchist elite, having embezzled national wealth, at some point felt ready to re-establish its traditional "habitat": an authoritarian society characterized by imperial ideology and management that relies on brute force and a "command economy". In recent years, the West has done everything possible to help them realize this goal. The West has invited Russia to participate in the G8 and been exalted by its success. Putin's face has been on the cover of every respected magazine and his name has surged to the top of every rating of influential people. All this has strengthened the Russian monarch's belief in his omnipotence. Now the chickens have come home to roost.

However, the last thing we need now is finger-pointing. What we need is instead careful analysis and a new strategy. Russia did not get appeased. Run by KGB officers it could simply not have been integrated into the western world. Now the new Cold War is a reality, and the task of the West must be to win it as quickly as possible and with a minimum of expenses, without alienating Russian people or turning it into a sworn enemy of the civilized world.

Focal point

This article is part of the focal point Russia in global dialogue, which is a cooperation with the Institute for Human Sciences (IWM). The focus is related to a corresponding fellowship programme at the Institute for Human Sciences (IWM) in Vienna.
By grabbing Crimea (and, I believe, Putin has more in store for us) Moscow violated international law. In fact, this violation is so grave that the world might turn away from Russia. Not punish it, but ignore it. The opposite of love is not hate, but indifference. This should be the foundation of the western approach to Russia.

Russia critically depends on the world outside its borders. There is, practically, no Russian high-tech industry and, to a very large extent, Russia imports medicine, food and consumer goods. It pays for everything it buys overseas using the revenue from oil, gas and other raw materials, which make up 77 per cent of Russia's exports. The main source of state income comes from custom duties (more than 50 per cent), not from tax collection. The main tool of exerting pressure on Russia would be a gradual reduction of imports of its commodities. This would lead the Russian elite to limit its people's access to western goods even more efficiently than any western economic sanctions.

The US and Europe should not slap sanctions on Russia. They should simply rearrange their energy imports priorities. In two to three years the EU would be able to reduce the oil and gas deliveries from Russia: Middle Eastern suppliers would be happy to fill the gap. Putin has increased the westward-oriented export of Russian energy resources to such a degree that it would be impossible to make a sudden U-turn and send the west-Siberian oil and gas to China instead: currently, less than 17 per cent of Russia's oil and gas exports go to the east. At present there is simply no money to pay for new pipelines to the east. Cutting European energy imports from Russia by half would result in a drop of the Russian export revenues by a third: 150 billion dollars annually.

Furthermore, there is actually no real need for the US and Europe to impose financial sanctions on Russia: "suggesting" to the rating agencies that it would make sense to lower Russia's credit score would suffice. Despite the widely accepted idea that Russia has almost no external debt, on 1 January 2014, the Russian government and corporations owed 732 billion dollars to foreign creditors, which is 44 per cent more than the Bank of Russia's foreign exchange reserves (510 billion dollars for the same date). Any confrontation with the West would cause a large-scale capital flight. If one adds to the equation a lower credit rating and the call for the early debt repayment due to covenant violations, western banks and companies would lay waste to the Russian investment resources in less than a year.

The US and Europe would not have to actively limit deliveries of strategic and state of the art and equipment, since Russian companies would in any case be unable to purchase it. In January 2014, investment in Russia dropped by seven per cent; by the end of the year it will be down by at least 20 per cent. In a climate of autarchy and isolationism there is no demand for technology for modernization. Putin's advisors claim that Russia would actually gain from its isolation from the West: all the US and Europe need to do is to step aside and let them prove themselves wrong. Russia has no bigger enemy than its incompetent and sticky-fingered bureaucracy: just let it go ahead and destroy itself.

During the last Cold War, the Soviet Union did not collapse because the threat to its existence had reached its climax, but when the appeal of the western world – in contrast to shabby Soviet life – became irresistible. All that the West now needs to do is to repeat this in a different "field". This field is Ukraine – the battleground of the new "Cold Peace". A quarter of its population being ethnic Russians, Ukraine is perceived by many in the Russian ruling elite as an integral part of Russia itself. If Ukraine would become a normal European nation, this would inflict a deadly blow to the "Russian exceptionalism" myth, the foundation of the post-Soviet flashbacks we are seeing today. What the West should to do is to help Ukraine to become more successful than Russia. And it has ten to fifteen years to do so.

I don't think this would be a mission impossible. Actually, it might not even have to be that expensive. First of all, one needs to draw new demarcation lines. Crimea is lost for Ukraine and there is no point fighting for it any more. Most likely, Putin will try to annex the regions Donetsk and Lugansk as well. Moscow seems to believe it can bargain with the West for these territories. One shouldn't let oneself into such bargaining. Let Putin have these regions, with their obsolete industrial behemoths: they would constitute an additional millstone around Russia's neck. Meanwhile, the US and Europe should offer to the rump Ukraine a truly new "Marshall Plan" worth at least 100 billion dollars. That would mean less than 3 per cent of the US federal budget expenses or 0.5 per cent of the European Union GDP. This money would help the West to achieve more than any military expenditures may ever do. In the current situation, one cannot not allow the standards of living in Ukraine to drop dramatically. This would be fraught with the rise of extremism. Nor can one allow its economy to regress, since this would trigger a flight of economically active and educated people. And yet, this massive economic assistance should not be the sole focus.

For this plan to succeed, Ukraine must expediently be integrated into Europe. This would bring much bigger rewards than any direct economic support could achieve. If in 2014 the EU would not only sign the Association Agreement but also give Ukraine EU-candidate status and set a tight timeframe for its accession to the European Union – let's say, 1 January 2020 – this would have a number of important consequences. First of all, it would send a message that Ukraine is a safe place for investment. In just seven years, from the start of negotiations on EU accession to its full membership status in 2004, Poland attracted at least 60 billion euros of foreign direct investment. Ukraine with its cheap labour and large market would attract much more. It could become a sort of southeast Asia for the EU, a new European industrial power.

The objective of the West should be to turn Ukraine into a successful European nation with a population closely tied to Russia both ethnically and culturally. If they succeed – particularly against the backdrop of an impoverished and isolated Russia, immersed in the authoritarian quagmire of Putin's rule for life – they could win the new Cold War. Unlike the previous one, this one could be won expediently and efficiently, without excessive spending and the threat of real military confrontation.

The key element to the West securing victory would be not to give in to Putin's propaganda. Whatever the experts say today, Communist ideology played a crucial role in Soviet society. The Soviet people believed in it; it was anchored in the heroism of the past and many people felt the might of the great Soviet power. Today's Russia is an empty shell, a nation without a productive economy and without a unifying universal ideology. The corrupt elites have no ties to a people imbued with consumerist values. Russia today is a thoroughly westernized individualistic society, which is not ready to embrace Putin's demagoguery. One can organize nationalist revanchist rallies in Moscow, but one can't replace with propaganda the prosperity that is slipping away. And one will not be able to resist the temptation of success if that success is achieved by the next-door neighbour.

The West should realize that Russia didn't become a great power again just because it chose to believe it could. It would take no great effort to win the new Cold War. All you need to understand is this:

– One should try not to isolate Russia, but instead learn to live without it. I am sure that this will be much easier than many believe.
– One should do everything possible to help eastern Europe – especially Ukraine – to become more successful in economic terms, more free in political terms and more tolerant in social terms, than Russia.
– While building relations with Russia, it should be done not with the interests of its elites in mind, but its people's sentiments, which are going to evolve quickly.
– And last but not least, the EU must start to think about its long-term interests and place these above the instant gratification of London bankers, German gas traders and real estate dealers all over Europe, who are yearning for Russian money.

If one could bind all these factors together, the West would win the new Cold War much faster than could be expected right now.


Published 2014-03-28

Original in English
First published in Eurozine

Contributed by Transit
© Vladislav Inozemtsev / IWM
© Eurozine

Focal points     click for more

Debating solidarity in Europe
In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, questions of inequality and solidarity have become intertwined. Over the past year, however, questions of solidarity have also been central in connection to the treatment of refugees and migrants. [more]

Ukraine: Beyond conflict stories
Follow the critical, informed and nuanced voices that counter the dominant discourse of crisis concerning Ukraine. A media exchange project linking Ukrainian independent media with "alternative" media in Germany, France, Spain, Italy and Greece. [more]

Russia in global dialogue
In the two decades after the end of the Cold War, intellectual interaction between Russia and Europe has intensified. It has not, however, prompted a common conversation. The focal point "Russia in global dialogue" seeks to fuel debate on democracy, society and the legacy of empire. [more]

Ukraine in European dialogue
Post-revolutionary Ukrainian society displays a unique mix of hope, enthusiasm, social creativity, collective trauma of war, radicalism and disillusionment. Two years after the country's uprising, the focal point "Ukraine in European dialogue" takes stock. [more]

Culture and the commons
Across Europe, citizens are engaging in new forms of cultural cooperation while developing alternative and participatory democratic practices. The commons is where cultural and social activists meet a broader public to create new ways of living together. [more]

2016 Jean Améry Prize collection
To coincide with the awarding of the 2016 Jean Améry Prize for European essay writing, Eurozine publishes essays by authors nominated for the prize, including by a representative selection of Eurozine partner journals. [more]

The politics of privacy
The Snowden leaks and the ensuing NSA scandal made the whole world debate privacy and data protection. Now the discussion has entered a new phase - and it's all about policy. A focal point on the politics of privacy: claiming a European value. [more]

Beyond Fortress Europe
The fate of migrants attempting to enter Fortress Europe has triggered a new European debate on laws, borders and human rights. A focal point featuring reportage alongside articles on policy and memory. With contributions by Fabrizio Gatti, Seyla Benhabib and Alessandro Leogrande. [more]

Vacancies at Eurozine     click for more

Eurozine is seeking an Online Editor and Social Media Manager for its office in Vienna.

Preferred starting date: February 2017.
Applications deadline: 31 January 2017.

Conferences     click for more

Eurozine emerged from an informal network dating back to 1983. Since then, European cultural magazines have met annually in European cities to exchange ideas and experiences. Around 100 journals from almost every European country are now regularly involved in these meetings.
Mobilizing for the Commons
The 27th European Meeting of Cultural Journals
Gdańsk, 4-6 November 2016
The Eurozine conference 2016 in Gdańsk framed the general topic of solidarity with a focus on mobilizing for the commons. The event took place in the European Solidarity Centre in Gdańsk and thus linked contemporary debate to the history of a broad, non-violent, anti-communist social movement which has started in the city's shipyard in 1980. [more]

Support Eurozine     click for more

If you appreciate Eurozine's work and would like to support our contribution to the establishment of a European public sphere, see information about making a donation.

Eurozine BLOG

On the Eurozine BLOG, editors and Eurozine contributors comment on current affairs and events. What's behind the headlines in the world of European intellectual journals?
In memoriam: Ales Debeljak (1961-2016)
On 28 January 2016, Ales Debeljak died in a car crash in Slovenia. He will be much missed as an agile and compelling essayist, a formidable public speaker and a charming personality. [more]

Time to Talk     click for more

Time to Talk, a network of European Houses of Debate, has partnered up with Eurozine to launch an online platform. Here you can watch video highlights from all TTT events, anytime, anywhere.
Neda Deneva, Constantina Kouneva, Irina Nedeva and Yavor Siderov
Does migration intensify distrust in institutions?
How do migration and institutional mistrust relate to one another? As a new wave of populism feeds on and promotes fears of migration, aggrandising itself through the distrust it sows, The Red House hosts a timely debate with a view to untangling the key issues. [more]

Editor's choice     click for more

Jürgen Habermas, Michaël Foessel
Critique and communication: Philosophy's missions
Decades after first encountering Anglo-Saxon perspectives on democracy in occupied postwar Germany, Jürgen Habermas still stands by his commitment to a critical social theory that advances the cause of human emancipation. This follows a lifetime of philosophical dialogue. [more]

Literature     click for more

Karl Ove Knausgård
Out to where storytelling does not reach
To write is to write one's way through the preconceived and into the world on the other side, to see the world as children can, as fantastic or terrifying, but always rich and wide-open. Karl Ove Knausgård on creating literature. [more]

Jonathan Bousfield
Growing up in Kundera's Central Europe
Jonathan Bousfield talks to three award-winning novelists who spent their formative years in a Central Europe that Milan Kundera once described as the kidnapped West. It transpires that small nations may still be the bearers of important truths. [more]

Literary perspectives
The re-transnationalization of literary criticism
Eurozine's series of essays aims to provide an overview of diverse literary landscapes in Europe. Covered so far: Croatia, Sweden, Austria, Estonia, Ukraine, Northern Ireland, Slovenia, the Netherlands and Hungary. [more]

Debate series     click for more

Europe talks to Europe
Nationalism in Belgium might be different from nationalism in Ukraine, but if we want to understand the current European crisis and how to overcome it we need to take both into account. The debate series "Europe talks to Europe" is an attempt to turn European intellectual debate into a two-way street. [more]

Multimedia     click for more
Multimedia section including videos of past Eurozine conferences in Vilnius (2009) and Sibiu (2007). [more]

powered by