Remind Russia It Is Part of the West

Following Europe’s devastation in World War II, it was unthinkable that a united Germany would become a member in good standing of the West, let alone its frequent standard-bearer. Since reunification, however, the German economy has become the lifeblood of the European Union and the Eurozone. Given that Germany exerts an almost hegemonic force throughout Europe through EU institutions, it is difficult to conceive of a European Union in which Germany is not an integral part. 

To accept this large role for Germany—the twice-defeated paragon of post-Prussian militarism—would have been unthinkable for any American, Frenchman, or Briton in the immediate aftermath of those wars. At that time, the West saw its role as rebuilding Germany outside of the Soviet sphere of influence. Over time, however, Germany grew beyond the modest goals of the denazification campaign and Marshall Plan. 

Similarly, it is hard to imagine a Russian Federation today that stands with the free nations of the West, let alone serves as one of its standard-bearers. With Russian-backed incursions into South Ossetia and Abkhazia in 2008, the annexation of Crimea in 2014, and the congregation of 100,000 Russian troops on the Ukrainian border, such a role seems inconceivable. But the result—the unimaginable vaunting of the Russian Federation from pariah to leader—could be similar. The path to get there need not be. 

The West, under the direction of the American intelligence community, decided to manipulate Joe Biden, alleging that Russian President Vladimir Putin has been planning an imminent invasion. Given that Putin understands the significance of a military conflict with the West or, even barring that, the potential for economic upheaval wrought by comprehensive sanctions on the Russian economy, it seems improbable that he would pursue such a strategy. Instead, he has engaged in a game of brinkmanship that retains Ukraine as a buffer but decreases the likelihood that it will join NATO in the foreseeable future. 

Putin’s image is predicated upon personal and national strength. It is doubtful he will walk away with his head bowed or initiate a new war for the conquest of Ukraine, only to find himself with a NATO border rather than a buffer. More probably, the Biden Administration and the American intelligence community are exacerbating the threat of a Russian invasion (which has no strategic significance to the safety of American territorial interests or security) to distract from the growing problem that the West is not inclined to face: Red China. With or without Putin, the Russians can and should be part of the inevitable Western alliance standing against Red China and the genocidal Chinese Communist Party (CCP) regime that rules it. 

Today, Russians can choose to avoid war and the mistakes made by the more militaristic, pre-war Germans. They can prevent the humiliation of the kind of war whose destruction and shame are not yet known. They can take what should, in any event, be their rightful place at the table of Western cultures and nations. After all, Russian culture in so many ways is linked to the Western experience. Yet, politically and militarily, it stands across a chasm. 

Despite what will surely be further intervention by the intelligence community and corrupt Biden officials to villainize Russia, the historic Russian nation holds a unique position as the great bridge between East and West. Given the current state of the East, where a technocratic regime has melded Stalinist ideology with cutting-edge (mostly stolen) technology to create a brutal autocracy, the West would benefit from a more substantial presence in that sphere of influence. 

China is nothing more than a blood-soaked sweatshop churning out cheap goods for Western consumers. Russia, more by necessity than by historical linkage, finds itself aligned with the Chinese Communist Party. Despite this, the connections that bind the Russian people and culture to the West are strong enough that the Russians ultimately will be more drawn to the West in this epic cultural showdown. 

The West shares musical, literary, artistic, philosophical, military, religious, and political tastes and history with the Russians in ways it cannot with the Chinese. Tchaikovsky, Tolstoy, and the dominant Soviet Hockey Team are part of Western culture and lore. Similarly, the Beatles, “The Godfather,” and the 1980 USA Hockey Team are part of Russia’s. The West and the Russians share none of these things and nothing like them with China or the Chinese people. A Westerner dropped without context into Moscow will feel perplexed by the strange script, but he will still recognize the city and its trappings as essentially familiar; the same cannot be said for one dropped in Beijing. The Russians have little desire to be in China, while they consistently make their preference for Western cities known, as anyone who has wandered around Mayfair can attest. 

It is more than just mutual cultural affinity that allows us to consider the Russians and the West as one. Chinese culture is inherently unappealing to Russians, and not on a relative basis to the rest of the West. As manifested by the CCP, the nature of Chinese politics and academics strikes hard against the grain of Russian sensitivities. There is no deep and lasting compatibility between the Chinese and the Russians; Russian Orthodox priests and day-to-day Russian cynicism about government autocracy are cardinal sins for the Chinese. No Russian would choose to live under a Chinese regime, but many can tolerate Putin and welcome the opportunity to move to any other Western city. 

If we ask what Putin should do for the Russian people, it is fair to suggest that he offer a grand gesture indicating a desire to be firmly part of Western culture and alliances. Perhaps this would require a shift in strategy—either from him or from NATO and its allies. But such a gesture, in light of the tremendous challenges that a developing and increasingly confident Communist China presents, represents a risk worth taking. 

Today, the world is faced with a menacing China that destroys cultures and communities in the name of unity under its ruling party. The Russians revolted against this sort of intrusion and institutionalized undermining of creativity when the Communists did it to them; they will do so again if they see the Russian Federation making itself party to corrupt dealmaking with the Chinese that stifles their hard-won opportunities. 

During the past two decades, in many ways, the Russian Federation has become a vanguard for the defense of Western values against the elite, globalist ideology peddled by those who would rather see borders erased than Western civilization preserved. Putin has played to popular sentiment in his country to prevent the emergence of progressive ideology that has riled the West. Perhaps more than anything else, the Russian Federation can serve as a bridge that enables a united front to combat the CCP while reminding us of the respect for our own heritage that too many in the West willfully reject in pursuit of the latest woke ideology. 

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About Gavin Wax

Gavin Wax is the 76th President of the New York Young Republican Club, Chairman of the New York Republican Liberty Caucus, an Ambassador for Turning Point USA, and an Associate Fellow at the London Center for Policy Research. You can follow him on Twitter at @GavinWax.

Photo: St.Petersburg , Russia. iStock/Getty Images