Relations between the west and Russia have entered a period of extraordinary mistrust and mutual disdain, Edward Lucas writes. Indeed, after the conflict in Georgia, the description “cold war” risks looking like an understatement. Russia has shown that it is prepared to use military force against another country; the west has shown that it will not fight and will merely respond with a token protest. From Russia’s point of view, the lesson of the Georgian adventure is simple: we got away with it.
Supposing Russia’s aim is the re-creation of a “lite” version of the Soviet empire, based not on military might but on economic dominance and pipeline monopolies; and that it wants the “Finlandisation” of western Europe. That involves the use of money, above and below board, to cultivate friendly lobbies. One example is the former German chancellor Gerhard Schröder chairing a Russian-German gas pipeline consortium. The “Schröderisation” of Europe is matched by divide-and-rule tactics.