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Pocketmags Digital Magazines
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Should we be afraid of Russia?

Bridget Kendall


Anatol Lieven


YES If by “Russia” we mean President Vladimir Putin’s government and not the Russian people, and if “we” means western liberal democracies, then yes, I think it would be wise to fear the Russian bear.

I am not saying that Russia is a bigger threat than Islamic jihadists or North Korea. But nor do I accept that Russia is benign. It could be an important collaborator. Instead at the moment it seems bent on being a dangerous disrupter.

You know why Russia matters. It is the world’s biggest landmass, with a large nuclear arsenal. It is a major exporter of hydrocarbons, agriculture and weaponry, and a major power at the United Nations.

Yet Putin seems intent on using his influence destructively. He often wields his UN veto. He bullies his neighbours and plays on western weakness to make Russia look stronger. He proclaims that he no longer intends to play “by the rules of the game”—I think we were both there at the Valdai conference in 2014 when he first said it.

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In Prospect’s November issue: Joris Luyendijk and Stuart Ward try to uncover the way Britain is perceived by Europe and the rest of the world. Luyendijk—who lived in Britain for six years before recently moving back to his native Netherlands—explains that the Brexit vote has shown Europe that Britain needs time alone to find its identity again, while Ward—a native Australian—argues that its Britain’s imperial backstory that stops it from truly understanding what the world thinks of it. Elsewhere in the issue Jeffrey Lewis argues that US foreign policy has helped North Korea develop the nuclear bomb and we explore the effect that the Palestinian museum near Ramallah is having on the creation of a national identity. Also in this issue: Sameer Rahim profiles Armando Iannucci, Joseph Stiglitz on Britain’s tricky political situation.