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May 27, 2021 52 min
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. QUOTES: BILL BROWDER: “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.” MATTHEW ROJANSKY “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 The host of the Munk Debates is Rudyard Griffiths - @rudyardg.   Tweet your comments about this episode to @munkdebate or comment on our Facebook page To sign up for a weekly email reminder for this podcast, send an email to   To support civil and substantive debate on the big questions of the day, consider becoming a Munk Member at Members receive access to our 10+ year library of great debates in HD video, a free Munk Debates book, newsletter and ticketing privileges at our live events. This podcast is a project of the Munk Debates, a Canadian charitable organization dedicated to fostering civil and substantive public dialogue - The Munk Debates podcast is produced by Antica, Canada’s largest private audio production company -   Executive Producer: Stuart Coxe, CEO Antica Productions Senior Producer: Ricki Gurwitz Editor: Kieran Lynch Associate Producer: Abhi Raheja
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