West ignored warning signs of fascism emerging in Russia, expert says

4 November 2022, 09:48 PM
Moscow was, is and will be a threat to Europe, reminds Oleksandr Motyl (Photo:REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov)

Moscow was, is and will be a threat to Europe, reminds Oleksandr Motyl (Photo:REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov)

Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine has seriously changed the West’s perception of how relevant the warnings – coming from Eastern Europe for years – about the Russian threat were, professor of political science at Rutgers University, Alexander Motyl, said in an interview with NV on Nov. 4.

He recalled the divisions between Western and Eastern Europe that had existed for years, and the somewhat dismissive attitude towards Eastern European countries. According to Motyl, there was a “cultural problem, the problem of the mentality of Western Europeans,” and at the same time – a geographical and historical problem.

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“In their (Western) experience, Moscow didn’t play such a dominant role as it played in the historical or cultural experience for the Baltic countries, Belarus, Ukraine, Poland,” Motyl explained.

“So for them, the threat coming from Russia has always been theoretical and not quite as obvious as it was to Kyiv, Warsaw, or Tallinn. They tend to think that the Eastern Europeans are exaggerating, maybe a bit insane, that they don't quite understand the implications [of a more radical opposition to Moscow].”

“Since Feb. 24, that all has changed, though.”

Motyl said that only now Western Europeans are forced to admit, at least to some extent, that “Eastern Europeans, including Ukrainians, were right; they were right not only about Moscow always being a threat, but also about the necessity to defend against it.”

“And that this threat exists not only for the Balts and Ukrainians - it exists for Europe itself,” the expert added.

He is convinced that it’s now hard for Europeans not to recognize Putin's “genocidal, imperialist, fascist program, as a significant threat to Europe itself.”

“Ukraine, Poland, Estonia, Latvia – all these countries demanded an immediate response because they experience this threat right at their door,” Motyl concludes.

“For Western Europeans, this threat is somewhat further. Again, the issue is the speed of their reaction to this threat. This is changing, but, unfortunately, rather slowly.”

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