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The Daily Vertical: The Myth Of The Grand Bargain (Transcript)

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

At his speech at the Valdai Discussion Forum in Sochi last week, Vladimir Putin seemed to indicate that he was seeking some form of detente with the West.

His foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, suggested the same thing this week at a press conference in Athens, saying that, inevitably, Russia and the West will need to sit down and talk to resolve differences.

The idea of some form of grand bargain with Russia is also gaining traction in several European capitals.

Now, there are just a couple problems with this.

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For one thing, Russia's record of complying with recent agreements with the West is far from stellar.

The ink was barely dry on the Minsk cease-fire and the recent cease-fire in Syria before Moscow began flagrantly violating them.

The OSCE reported that last week alone there were roughly 1,000 cease-fire violations per day in eastern Ukraine.

Moreover, recent reports suggest that Russia is not even complying with the 2010 New START nuclear arms treaty.

So there's that.

But leaving aside the issue of noncompliance, there are deeper questions about what a grand compromise with Vladimir Putin's regime would look like.

Moscow is not going to return Crimea to Ukraine.

It's not going to stop its intervention in the Donbas. It's not going to stop trying to dominate its neighbors.

It's not going to stop backing extremist parties in Europe, and its not going to stop its cyberattacks.

Russia appears to want detente without changing any of its behavior.

It doesn't want compromise. What it wants is capitulation. Which makes any grand bargain with this regime practically impossible.

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