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What, Lenin asked memorably, is to be done? His answer - to create a lethal and disastrous communist empire - was a bad one. But as the West grapples with a Russian regime that is at least in part nostalgic for the Soviet Union, the question is still a good one.

The problem is that Russia is behaving badly enough to be a worry, but not badly enough to focus our minds. Russia is a repressive regime. But it is not bad enough to enrage our liberal consciences, and, in truth, many of our own allies behave worse. Russia's ancient nuclear bombers play silly games near British airspace; one of its submarines surfaces in the Irish Sea. But that is just tiresome Kremlin chest-thumping. In a real war, the Russian navy with its 20 or so seaworthy ships would probably be at the bottom of the sea within minutes. Russia vetoed sanctions on Zimbabwe and wants to sell advanced weapons to Iran - but life goes on. In short, Russia's actions are irritants, not alarm signals.

So the easiest thing is to do nothing. Whitehall mandarins argue that Russia is like a troublesome adolescent, simply flexing new muscles and trying to get the outside world to take it seriously. After the chaos and humiliation of the '90s, is it not surprising that Russia, now a prosperous and stable country, wants to rub in the fact that its days as a basket case are over? Maybe the West has overdone Nato expansion in Russia's historic backyard; certainly it is time to call a halt. The best thing to do is to take the long view, not to overreact, and to wait for a middle class to develop inside Russia. Sooner or later, Russia will become just another normal country that we can do business with - a sort of cold, muddy, nuclear-armed version of Brazil.

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Riaz Ahmad
December 27th, 2008
9:12 PM
Edwards Lucas, your remarks: 'Russia is a repressive regime. But it is not bad enough to enrage our liberal consciences' If you examine international affairs, there is a constant and consistent pattern of hypocrisy, duplicity and double standards practiced by the west. If these are the attributes of your liberal conscience, then I agree with your remarks. As reality of international affairs bears out, your liberal conscience is no different to that of Russia's none-liberal variety. Both are subservient to serving the needs of vested interest.

Vernon Howell
November 13th, 2008
6:11 PM
Come now, Anonymous. Neo fascist is going a bit far, though by no means is Sakaashvili a democrat of course, in spite of attempts by his supporters such as Mr Lucas and the sixth formers in the UK government to soft-soap his image and conceal the rather obvious truth about him.

Anonymous
November 12th, 2008
1:11 AM
Huh? Didn't Russian troops leave Eastern Europe? Constructive engagement would be a much better policy than costly confrontation. Trust me, when the Bush joke is out of office, NATO will have to explain aspects of the Georgian aggression against Russia. Western media have served as player pianos for Saakashvili's neo-fascist regime. Orwellian Newspeak has shackled critical faculties in the West. Find a lie in this documentary, or shut up. www.war080808.com/

Anonymous
November 1st, 2008
9:11 PM
Lucas, strangely, has yet to publish this on his own blog. Perhaps this is due to the fact that it's - in parts - oddly out of sync with his usual froth. As for the money issue and Lucas, it is painfully easy to see it. He admitted last year on a blog called Marginalia that he writes for outlets for the Daily Mail _not_ to reach a different, painfully naive part of the British public, but for the cold, hard cash. One should also look up his wife's (Christina Odone) bit on the Guardian web site, also from about a year ago. There, she rails with evident envy, about the wealthy Russians now in London. It's a pathetic family affair.

Vernon Howell
October 29th, 2008
8:10 PM
What is to be done? Well, you can stop commissioning articles by this frothing Russophobe for a start, who never stops flogging his risible New Cold War schtick. It is in Lucas' benefit to talk this nonsense up of course as he has a dire book on the topic to sell. Cui bono, and all that.

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