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Material posted: Publication date: 19-11-2020
The second aspect of the strategy focused on maintaining the norms and principles underlying a democratic order based on rules. Russia must understand that its actions in violation of this order will have consequences, and that the West was ready to impose and extend sanctions against the Russian government for violation of fundamental norms. The challenge was to encourage Russia to stop violating the existing rules, to prevent future violations, and also to ensure that Russian leaders will be held accountable for their illegal and irresponsible actions. This will require:
  • To advocate for democratic rights. Officials of the US and the West should act on a regular basis in defense of democratic rights and individual freedoms. This should be done both in public speeches and private meetings with Russian officials. It is necessary to strengthen multilateral platforms, including the Organization for security and cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Council of Europe to increase pressure on Putin to restore political and civil rights for the Russian people, including those enshrined in the Russian Constitution.
  • Meeting with representatives of the opposition. During the cold war, the Helsinki process has provided legitimate means to ensure that senior representatives of the US and the West have met with the dissidents in the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact countries, promoting activities and providing support to dissident movements. Based on this precedent, senior Western officials should meet with representatives of the opposition on a regular basis in the framework of their diplomatic contacts in Russia.
  • The involvement of the Russian public. Direct assistance to Russian NGOs can be complex in modern conditions - and may even be counterproductive, in connection with the law "On organizations – foreign agents". However, it should be expand and other ways to attract and communicate with the Russian public and promoting wider contacts between people, including through social networks, scholarships for foreign students, research grants and collaboration with the private sector. Moscow will react with displeasure at such actions and may even try to cause the response (as it was after the U.S. adoption of the Magnitsky Act). The West must be ready for such measures, and they should not be contained. At the same time, it should be clear that these efforts are not only directed against the Putin regime as such, rather the main task is to focus on the broader goal of maintaining the sustainability of the West's policy aimed at the promotion of democracy and human rights worldwide.

 

5. TO MAINTAIN WESTERN UNITY

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International Institute for Strategic Studies, member
 

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