To the Editor:
It was gratifying to see that Ambassador Andrew Wood chose our recent essay as the point of departure for his article on the West’s policy toward Russia. Ambassador Wood is an eminent scholar-practitioner with long experience in Russia. However, his article contains two references to our essay that are factually incorrect.
Ambassador Wood quotes from our essay that “Moscow’s vision has been deeply affected by its experience at the end of the Cold War and guided by a firm resolve to prevent it from being repeated.” Based on that quote, Ambassador Wood writes that we rely on the “mantra of the West’s humiliation of Russia” as the justification of Putin’s foreign policy. In fact, we do not argue that at all, and the word “humiliation” is not even in our essay. We would never reduce Russia’s experience at the end of the Cold War to humiliation by the West. To do so would mean overlooking the domestic decline and retreat from the world stage that no country in modern history suffered in peacetime, regardless of anything the West may have done. It was Russia’s crisis first and foremost.
Further, Ambassador Wood ascribes to us the view that “turning the page on Russian interventions in Ukraine, Syria, and the United States” would be the way to repair U.S.-Russia relations. We make no such claim. In fact, in the introductory section of our essay, we write “what is needed today is not another symbolic handshake or commitment to move past the old differences, but rather a sober look at the root causes of successive crises in U.S.-Russian relations as well as a clearer understanding of why major disagreements have lingered despite both sides’ attempts at reconciliation.”
We hope this clarifies our position.
Andrew S. Weiss