Vladimir Putin, Russia’s paramount leader for almost two decades, is facing mounting pressure at home and abroad. His ally in Belarus, President Alexander Lukashenko, is facing wide spread opposition since claiming re-election last year in a widely condemned election. Russian diplomats have been expelled from the US, Czech Republic, and Poland, along with new a round of economic sanctions by Western powers. At home, mass protests are springing up across the country in support of jailed Putin critic and anti-corruption campaigner Alexei Navalny. Putin’s response has been a show of force; the President moved 100,000 Russian troops to disputed areas of Ukraine, deployed warships to the Red Sea, cracked down on protesters, and warned the West it would cross Russia’s “red lines” at its peril. Some experts believe that the only way to de-escalate tensions with Russia is through open dialogue on issues of mutual interest. Negotiations will reduce the risk of conflict and advance common goals that benefit both parties, such as arms control, Middle East stability and the Arctic. Others see isolation and increased sanctions as the only answer to Putin’s regime. The Russian President is a dangerous actor whose efforts to destabilize the West are a clear and present danger. Appeasement of any kind will only encourage more bad behaviour and increase the risk of an open conflict.
Arguing for the motion is Bill Browder, political activist and author of the best-selling book Red Notice, which chronicles Browder’s mission to expose the Kremlin's corruption while running the largest hedge fund in Russia.
Arguing against the motion is Matthew Rojansky, Director of the Wilson Center’s Kennan Institute, and one of the country’s leading analysts of US relations with Russia, Ukraine, and the region.
“We have to think of dealing with Putin like we're dealing with a criminal enterprise....we have to contain him and not give him any latitude for bad actions.”
“Strategic stability between the United States and Russia is absolutely critical. Arms control doesn't happen without dialogue.”
Sources: BBC, US Department of Defense, AFP, MSNBC, PBS
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