Staunton, November 15 – Now that some are describing British Prime Minister Theresa May’s speech on the Russian threat as an update of Churchill’s Fulton speech, that began the Cold War, the Kremlin is about to learn that it is quite easy to become a universal outcast but far more difficult to recover from that status, at least without a change at the top.
Yevgeny Platon, a Ukrainian businessman and commentator, has put the former proposition most clearly: May’s speech, he writes, is “in essence the Fulton speech of Churchill” and thus constitutes “an official declaration of Cold War 2.0 on the Russian Federation” (gordonua.com/blogs/platon/vcherashnyaya-rech-mey-po-suti-fultonskaya-rech-cherchillya-oficialnoe-obyavlenie-rossii-holodnoy-voyny-20-217292.html).
Rosbalt commentator Ivan Preobrazhensky expands on this point. He notes that May accused the Russian authorities “and Vladimir Putin personally” of seeking to use “information as a weapon,” annexing Crimea, “unleashing war in Ukraine, and conducting cyber-war” there and elsewhere (rosbalt.ru/russia/2017/11/14/1660742.html).
The Kremlin has done all this because it “underrates the firmness of contemporary democracies and open societies” and thus will become ever more isolated from them unless and until it changes is policies. But already, May suggested and Preobrazhensky agrees, Russia is in a very different place than it was.
“Earlier Russia was one of the world centers of attraction, often more military and cultural than economic but all the same a center.” Now, however, “this picture is rapidly changing. By its inept foreign policy, the Kremlin has allowed for the transformation of Russia into ‘a universal threat.’”
Preobrazhensky continues: “Now whenever anyone needs to distract attention from its own inept or aggression policy, all he has to do is mention Russia. That is how the Bulgarians, Poles, Czechs, Dutch, French, British, and Americans are already actin. And soon, to judge from everything, this trend will go beyond the limits of ‘the Euro-Atlantic community.’”
“All powers sometimes make mistakes. And it is very convenient when there is one universal threat for the entire world to which all problems can be ascribed.” Such a stereotype can be employed without much argument precisely because it is so widely accepted, the Rosbalt commentator says.
But for Russia and its future, “with or without Putin,” this is “a very dangerous development. To gain the reputation of ‘a universal evil,’ it turns out, isn’t too difficult. But to escape from it certainly will take years and more likely decades.”