In the interest of European security: a realpolitik approach to relations with Russia,

Rüdiger Lüdeking, German diplomat and German Ambassador to Belgium, 2015 - 2018

[…] Europe needs a credible common policy towards Russia that is not naive or appeasing, but rather interest-driven, consistent, sober and pragmatic, foregoing cheap and empty moral pathos.

Stereotyped condemnations and a passive wait and see attitude will not lead anywhere. What is needed now is a calibrated approach. Past experience has shown that comprehensive sanctions because of Putin’s actions against Navalny, and his supporters will not have the desired success. However, targeted individual sanctions against Putin’s corrupt and kleptocratic cronies can send an unmistakable signal. We owe this not least to the vast majority of the Russian population and the impressively courageous protesters in many cities in Russia.

But it must not end there. Precisely because of the fundamental differences and the dangers of isolating Russia, it is also necessary to sound out opportunities for dialogue, cooperation and detente. However, such a realpolitik approach can only be viable and credible on the basis of an unambiguous commitment to Western values, a clear pledge to the EU and NATO, and increased national efforts to ensure secure defence capabilities. […]

European security and stability must be at the centre of such an initiative. It is important not to let the spiral of confrontation between the West and Russia get out of hand. To this end, the initiative could primarily pursue two objectives:

First, the creation of a new collective security architecture. What is needed is a departure from the policy of ostracism towards Russia. The OSCE, the CSCE process, and their central documents (Helsinki Final Act 1975, Paris Charter 1990) can serve as key points of reference in this regard. However, a revival of the OSCE does not seem very promising because of the marginalisation it has suffered over a number of years now. Reflecting today’s realities, a new political conference could reaffirm common values and principles, give a new impetus for practical cooperation, and work out collective solutions to existing conflict situations. Läs artikel