Anne Applebaum: Russia is now perceived as a problem, not a potential partner

Anne Applebaum, a journalist at The Washington Post, told Belsat about how Russia was going to split Europe and how its actions united the latter instead.

“There has been a big change this year. There has been a change in the way that Western powers by which I mean United States and Europe now perceive Russia. Until now, for the last fifteen years, the West has seen Russia as a potential partner – an economic partner and maybe sometimes a political partner.<…> There was great hope that Russia would be eventually  a kind of part of the West or integrated into the West”, she said being a guest at Belsat TV program Prasviet (World and Us). 

Anne Applebaum stresses that hope has come to an end this year: “Russia is widely perceived not as a potential member of the West, but as an adversary of the West and one which seeks to undermine the West. The invasion of Crimea has very much changed the image of Russia in many western capitals.”

Effect of sanctions

“The sanctions were done in parts – initially small sanctions and then bigger sanctions. <…> But eventually, the sanctions we have now are very interesting because the main effect they have is on Russian banks that are not able to get credit in the West. And I think initially they thought they could get it somewhere else – in China or Brazil, but it turned out to be very difficult. The problems we see now in the Russian economy are connected to that. The fact that Russian banks and companies are having so much trouble getting credit, borrowing money from all over the world is really the effect of these sanctions. Tremendous effect may be so far not so much on ordinary Russians but there’s a big act on Russia’s financial class – the ruling class. So, I think, in some ways it has turned out to be effective.”

Is Belarus a puppet in the hands of Putin?

According to the journalist, Belarus is trying to separate itself from Russia.

“At least, some [people] in Belarus must see that a big conflict between Russia and the West is bad for Belarus – economically, politically. You can see Lukashenka has tried to play some kind of constructive role, as a negotiator – we had these negotiations in Minsk. And it was made clear to a lot of people – he is at least trying to be seen as  separate. How authentic that is – it’s very hard for me to say.”

See more in the full version of the interview (the video above)

See also