Alone Together

Russia and the US in the Post-Soviet Era

Authored by: Thomas Sherlock

Handbook of Defence Politics

Print publication date:  December  2008
Online publication date:  March  2011

Print ISBN: 9781857434439
eBook ISBN: 9780203804278
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9780203804278-23

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Abstract

In a statement characteristic of his evaluation of the US and the West as political partner and model, then Russian President Boris Yeltsin in 1993 showered praise on Radio Liberty, the US-supported network which had broadcast news and Western perspectives for decades to the Soviet Union and then, after the Soviet collapse, to the newborn Russian Republic. Yeltsin proclaimed that ‘[w]e … rely on your objective illumination of Russian and international events … and [on your help] in protecting democratic reforms’. 1 Turning his back on this positive assessment of Western influence, Vladimir Putin—who was hand-picked by Yeltsin to succeed him in 2000—often denigrated the West for its criticism of his increasingly authoritarian rule. In early 2008, on the eve of Russia’s presidential election, Putin publicly berated the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) for attempting to ‘teach’ Russia how to govern itself, declaring: ‘let them teach their wives to make cabbage soup’. 2 The previous year, in a thinly veiled comparison, Putin likened US foreign policy to that of Nazi Germany, possessing ‘the same contempt for human life and claims to world exclusiveness’. 3 Washington was condemned for seeking to create ‘one single center of power … one single center of decision making’ in global politics. 4

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