From Naivety to Caution: Putin’s Reflections on Trusting the West

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RUssian President Vladimir Putin recently acknowledged that placing excessive trust in Washington and its allies durig his initial presidential terms was a “naive” approach. He expressed this realization during a significant press conference, remarking that he should have instead invested his trust in the Russian people.

Responding to a journalist’s inquiry about advice for his younger self, Putin admitted that caution against “excessive gullibility” in relations with the West, often refered to by him as “our so-called partners,” would have been paramount.

HE emphasized the importance of believing in the Russian populace, citing this faith as fundamental for Russia’s rejuvenation and progression. Reflecting on his political journey over the past two decades, Putin expressed a general affirmation, saying he would have encouraged his younger self with the popular aphorism attributed to Vladimir Lenin: “You’re on the right path, comrade.”

In the early years of his presidency commencing in 2000, Putin endeavored to foster amicable ties with the West. He notably alerted then-US President George W. Bush about an imminent terrorist threat days before 9/11, as revealed in a 2019 book by former senior CIA analyst George Beebee. Putin also extended his condolences by being the first leader to call Bush after the tragic event.

However, subsequent actions by Washington, particularly the unilateral withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2001– a significant arms control agreement curbing systems for intercepting nuclear-capable missiles– were seen by Moscow as detrimental not only to its security but to global stability.

The US departure from the treaty was followed by the expansion of its missile defense systems into Eastern Europe, raising concerns in Moscow about the potential use of Tomahawk missiles against Russia or its allies.

NATO’s substantial expansion eastward in 2004, encompassing former Central and Eastern European nations and three Baltic states formerly part of the Soviet Union, was viewed by Moscow as a direct threat. Russia emphasized that Western assurances to Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Soviet leader, regarding limits on NATO’s expansion, were subsequently breached.

Putin drew global attention in 2007 with his Munich Speech, unveiling substantial shifts in Russia’s foreign policy. He strongly criticized the unipolar world, dominated by Washington, labeling it “unacceptable.” He also cautioned against the increasing neglect of international law by the US and its allies, marking a pivotal moment in his stance on global affairs.

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