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The Daily Vertical: Containment 2.0 (Transcript)

  • Brian Whitmore

The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect the views of RFE/RL.

And so, I'm back.

And while I may not have been visible in this space over the past couple weeks, I have in fact been pretty busy thinking and talking about Russian affairs in various venues in the United States and in Europe.

And now is as good a time as ever to share some of my main takeaways.

So here goes.

First, not to scare everybody on Halloween, but Vladimir Putin's regime is at war with the West.

It's not a kinetic war, and probably won't turn into one.

We're not shooting at each other, and we probably won't be.

But it's a war nonetheless and we should recognize it as such.

The Kremlin is using every tool at its disposal -- from disinformation to cyberattacks to the export of corruption -- to corrode, disrupt, and undermine Western institutions.

Second, as long as the current regime remains in power, this is not going to change.

There is no magic deal we can cut with Putin to make him play nice. There is no grand bargain.

Because what Putin wants -- a free hand in the former Soviet space, the breakup of the European Union, and an end to transatlantic unity -- is something the West simply cannot give him.

And finally, what this means is that the West is in for a protracted period of conflict with Putin's Russia.

What this means is that the West needs to start thinking very hard about a coordinated policy and a coordinated strategy to protect itself the Kremlin's asymmetrical assault on its institutions.

It's time to start a serious conversation about what Containment 2.0 will look like.

So let's start that conversation.

Keep telling me what you think on The Power Vertical's Twitter feed and on our Facebook page.

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