Letter: Self-interested motives for Western aid to Russia

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The Independent Online
Sir: To imply, as Jonathan Eyal does (Comment, 20 December), that the West used to be having a starry-eyed love affair with Russia, which should now be tempered by self-interest, is absurd. The West, justifiably, is always propelled by basic drives - security and profit- taking (genteel or ruthless). When the motives for 'helping' Russia were different, they were actually nastier (West Germans smugly sending food packages to paupers in Russia).

The West does not (and perhaps should not) like any and all election results just because an election has been held democratically. When the outcome of an election is disagreeable (in terms of trade or moral conceit), the political and journalistic West is happy to look the other way as the army, as in Algiers, quashes the unwelcome winners (Muslim fundamentalists).

More important is Mr Eyal's fudging over whether or not Russia has a right to protect ethnic Russians in the newly independent adjoining states. Parents of such Russians may have gone, or been forced to go, to Estonia or Maldova for all the unsavoury Soviet reasons. But these Russians have been receiving a raw deal, and most people find forced mass repatriation (a la Bulgaria of Turks) ethnically repugnant. So why the facile comparison only to Hitler and the Sudeten Germans when, in fact, Northern Ireland, the Falklands, Grenada and Cyprus come as readily to mind?




22 December