Chatherine Belton on what the West got wrong about Putin

British author and jour­nalist Catherine Belton says that the West and espe­cially Western business ignored early alarm bells like the jailing of Mikhail Khodor­kovsky, believing that through trade they could foster a good and stable rela­tion­ship with Russia.

“The West wanted to believe that (Putin) was liberal and progres­sive and when he turned out not to be, they continued to believe that he was someone they could do business with.

Even after he began taking over the country’s energy sector, jailing its richest man on trumped up charges and completely carving up the biggest Russian oil major YUKOS, Western business still jumped on bandwagon, it wanted part of the profits, it wanted to take part – We see this too in the policies of the German govern­ment, when they were anxious to build Nord Stream gas pipeline and believed that through trade they could foster a good and stable rela­tion­ship with Russia.

People were too eager to brush over elements of Putin’s criminal past and his past in the KGB, not realizing that perhaps amid all his talk of democracy and market reforms he had a more covert agenda to undermine the West and expand the Russian empire. Obviously, the West has learnt a lot since then – in the worst possible fashion. All masks were torn off when Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine last year.

 But unfor­tu­nately, it seems, not all the lessons have been learned, because we still have leaders like Emmanuel Macron of France who are pushing for some kind of peace deal in hopes it can go back to business as usual when the war is over.

And of course, that is delu­sional, because even is a ceasefire agreement is reached, Putin’s imperial ambitions are not going to stop!”


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