Will Russia be the enemy forever?

There seems little appetite in the west to distinguish between leaders and people, which was the key to the peace with West Germany after 1945, writes Mary Dejevsky

Thursday 12 May 2022 17:30
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<p>And along with all this goes the demonisation not just of Putin, but of Russia and Russians</p>

And along with all this goes the demonisation not just of Putin, but of Russia and Russians

On 9 May, as Vladimir Putin was presiding over Russia’s Victory Day parade in Moscow, the newly re-elected French president was in Strasbourg, setting out his ideas for the future of Europe. But it wasn’t his largely reheated blueprint for a multi-speed Europe that commanded most attention, but his call for Russia not to be humiliated in the aftermath of the Ukraine war.

There should be no repeat, he said, of the mistakes made in 1918, alluding to the long-standing argument that the harsh terms imposed on Germany then sowed the seeds for the next war only a generation later. “We will have a peace to build tomorrow, let us never forget that. We will have to do this with Ukraine and Russia around the table …  it will not be done in denial, nor in exclusion of each other, nor even in humiliation.”

If Emmanuel Macron had been hoping for applause, or even some muted support for his plea, however, he would have been disappointed. In an implicit and immediate rebuff, the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen (and a German national), said that the contrast between Putin’s military parade and the “celebration of democracy” that was the European Parliament “could not be starker”. Nor was she alone.

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