In a recent talk following a visit to Russia, former Nixon advisor on Soviet matters Dimitri Simes told his audience that Putin is a pragmatist who is the West’s best hope for a negotiated settlement to end the Ukrainian crisis. Simes went on to warn that, if we fail to take advantage of Putin’s moderate stance, we risk empowering reactionary elements within Russia who “want to do crazy things.” That, in turn, he warned could end in a disastrous military confrontation similar to the way World War I started.
Many in the West brand people who say such things as “naive Putin apologists.” But that’s a hard moniker to pin on Simes. As noted, he advised President Nixon on Soviet matters. Also, having been born in Moscow in 1947 and emigrated to the US in 1973, he has first-hand knowledge of the worst side of that system. President Nixon later appointed Simes to head The Nixon Center, a position he still holds under that institution’s new name, The Center for the National Interest
I strongly recommend that you read the full article (“Putin: Russia’s Last Remaining Pragmatist?“) on Simes’ talk. It’s short and will take just a few minutes. Whether or not you agree with his conclusion, you will get an unusual, more hopeful view of what currently seems like an unsolvable problem.
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