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Thursday, 28th May 2015

A ‘New Cold War’? Abusing History, Misunderstanding Russia

Source: Chatham House

From Summary:

The war in Ukraine suggests a new era of competition between the West and Russia. It has (again) revealed both fundamental differences in how European security is understood, and increasing friction in values. Together, these problems suggest an emergent ‘clash of Europes’ that pits the West’s relatively liberal vision for the region against a more conservative ‘Russian Europe’.

A ‘new Cold War’ narrative, increasingly popular, interprets this competition as a resumption of the Cold War. Many Western political figures and observers have asserted that Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, is trying to turn back the clock, even to rebuild the USSR, and therefore that the experience of the Cold War could offer useful lessons for politicians today.

This narrative, though seductive, is misleading. It too often frames the discussion in a repetitive and simplistic polemic that inhibits understanding of Russia and its relationship with the West. This makes it harder for the West to craft realistic policies with respect both to the Ukraine crisis and Russia generally.

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Having begun his career in academic libraries, Adrian Janes has subsequently worked extensively in public libraries, chiefly in enquiry work as an Information Services librarian. In this role he has had particular responsibility for information from both the UK Government and the European Union. He wrote a detailed report on sources for the latter which was published by FreePint in 2007, and has contributed articles to FreePint and ResourceShelf. He is involved in training in information literacy and the use of online reference resources.

A Contributing Editor to DocuTicker, he also write reviews for Pennyblackmusic.

More articles by Adrian Janes »



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