WASHINGTON – Russia and the West have entered what a new book calls a New Cold War,the author explained in a talk Wednesday.
Edward Lucas,a reporter for The Economist,discussed his book,”The New Cold War: Putin's Russia and the Threat to the West,” at an event sponsored by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
He said he is not arguing that the old Cold War is coming back or that everything that happened in the 1990s in Russia was bad.
Lucas said the New Cold War is not a global war,but it's important in Eastern Europe. The weapon is money.
There are two fronts – one in Russia and a second in the West. With money,Russia can buy states through politicians,parties and businesses,Lucas said. For example,he said the government's policy of monopolizing raw materials is good for Russia in the short term,but in the long term,it's bad for everybody.
A second aspect involves values.
The book describes how Putin and his former colleagues from the KGB,the old secret police,have gone about governing Russia and the country's “huge losses.”
Lucas said that Russia is losing transparency.
In the West,he said,many institutions prevent the loss of transparency,including the political process,laws and free media. But under Putin,he said,”these have been systematically destroyed in Russia.”
Lucas said Russia's “democratic” presidential election on March 2 is both predictable and mystifying.
“I refuse to use even the word ‘vybory' or election,for what's coming up in Russia. … The choice ‘vybor' is not there.”
He said it is “totally predictable” because everybody knows who is going to win: Dmitry Medvedev,Putin's protégée. “It's totally mystifying because we don't know what it means.”
Lucas,the Central and Eastern Europe correspondent for The Economist and deputy editor of its international section,said the book “is not against Russia or Russians. … I really wish I had not had to write this book. I wish it wasn't necessary. I wish Russia was still in that trajectory towards freedom and security and the rule of law.”
That – and a boost from his wife – made Lucas decide he had to write the book to wake people up to what is going on.
“My wife said,‘Darling,normally when you talk about Russia,a room empties,and you end up talking to a plant in the corner,a deaf person or maybe a small child who can't get away. And something's changed. Now,when you talk about Russia,everybody is listening. This is means you should write a book about it,'” Lucas said.
He said the book is a bit “pessimistic” as “Mr. Putin's repression at home is matched by aggression abroad.”