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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Strategic Approaches for Next-Door Neighbors

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In response to "Russia's Search for a Partner," a comment by Katinka Barysch and Laza Kekic on June 16.


Katinka Barysch and Laza Kekic rightly point out that the EU and Russia's mutual interests "far outweigh their differences," and stress both sides' economic interdependence and "a strong interest in stability in the CIS and a wider Europe."

However, the authors then state, incorrectly, that EU-Russia relations lack strategic vision. Later on in the article, they themselves seem to contradict this view by mentioning that the EU has the long-term goal of integrating Russia into its internal market. Is this not a strategic vision?

I accept that this "lofty" goal -- as the authors put it -- is a long-term one, but work towards it began with the launching of the Common European Economic Space in 2001. The idea is to promote legislative approximation and regulatory convergence in order to share with Russia the benefits of the EU's internal market. A framework for this will be decided later this year.

The authors also write that the EU "regularly pays lip service to Russia's importance as a strategic partner, yet the EU's recent document on neighborhood policy treats Russia just like any other nonmember country." This statement is also incorrect. The idea behind a "Wider Europe" or "New Neighborhood" is that EU enlargement promotes cooperation between the EU and its neighbors in addressing common challenges due to geographical proximity.

Though the concept of a "Wider Europe" encompasses all present and future neighbors of the EU, it also clearly differentiates among them. Russia's relations with the EU are already advanced, but that is not the only reason why it is singled out. The new neighborhood policies should not override the existing framework, but should provide added value where possible. To quote the conclusions of the EU General Affairs and External Relations Council from June 16, the new policies should "reinforce the EU-Russia strategic partnership."

I am pleased that the authors conclude their article with the positive observation that the obstacles to better EU-Russia relations may be rather easy to overcome and that the EU may yet turn out to be the strategic partner that Russia has been looking for. In this regard, let me just point out that in his annual address to the State Duma on May 16, President Vladimir Putin pointedly stressed the importance of Russia's relations with the EU countries.

Richard Wright
Head of the EC delegation in Russia

Give Me a Break


When The Moscow Times fails financially it will be because it takes too many holidays. Ditto for the entire Russian economy! Still taking May Day holidays now that Russia is a democratic nation is especially absurd.

George Singleton
Birmingham, Alabama

Ukrainian Famine

In response to "One Pulitzer That Should Shake the World," a comment by Matt Bivens on June 16.


Matt Bivens is certainly correct that Walter Duranty distorted the nature of the famine during Stalin's collectivization drive. But Bivens perpetuates a different set of myths by alleging that the famine was "engineered" and that it "stopped precisely at the Ukrainian-Russian internal border."

In fact, millions of peasants starved to death between 1932 and 1933 not only in Ukraine, but in southern Russia and Kazakhstan as well. And although the Stalinist leadership exacerbated famine conditions through its neglect, incompetence and disdain for rural culture, it is not at all clear that this was a premeditated act of genocide directed against the Ukrainian nation.

David Brandenberger
Cambridge, Massachusetts


Matt Bivens' claim that the Stalinist regime "engineered a mass famine -- one so neatly political that it stopped precisely at the Ukrainian-Russian internal border" is entirely incorrect. That the famine did not stop at the Ukrainian-Russian internal border is well known, well-documented and written about in many, many books.

This enormous error should be corrected immediately as it indicates a gross lack of knowledge about what actually happened in the Soviet Union between 1932 and 1933, and how far it spread.

E. Morgan Williams

Passing Ideals

In response to "Sculpting Giants, Watching Them Fall," a story by Michael Wines of The New York Times, published on the front page of The Moscow Times' print edition on June 18.


Seeing the bold, triumphant Lenin statue on Oktyabrskaya Ploshchad beside the front-page piece on fallen sculptures, I could not help recalling what Goethe said in Weimar on July 5, 1827.

After discussing the key political topics of the day -- Wellington's visit to St. Petersburg and its possible consequences, the delayed liberation of Greece, the restriction of the Turks to Constantinople, Napoleon -- Goethe said: "For one who, like me, lives through ages, it always seems odd when I hear about statues and monuments. I can never think of a statue erected in honor of a distinguished man without already seeing it cast down and trampled upon by future warriors."

Thomas Carlyle wrote in 1833 that London's pineal gland -- the part of man once held to be the center of the soul -- was the money purse. In post-communist Russia, political hopes, connections and power have been replaced by dollars once again. Sculptures pass away along with ideals. Will dollars be the last?

Stephen Lapeyrouse