There is dissent in Putin’s inner circle. Alexei Kudrin, a close associate of the Russian President and a member of his presidential economic council, issued a warning that Russia is going in the wrong direction in an interview with Itar-Tass, a state-run news agency. The FT reports:
Mr Kudrin said conservative forces had seized upon the Ukraine crisis to push the country towards an isolationist course, and this ran counter to the interests of Russian business, which depends on global funds and markets. […]“The political landscape in our country has changed seriously, and the socio-political one fundamentally. We have become the west’s adversary again,” Mr Kudrin said.“There are forces in the country who have long wanted to distance us, who wanted isolation, maybe a certain self-sufficiency. Today this has all fallen on fertile ground, and I’m really surprised at the extent of anti-western rhetoric that has emerged.”
Westerners who are seriously interested in moving toward a sustainable relationship with Russia need to pay careful attention to the thinking of the people who are around the current leadership but who have held back from its recent excesses.