Warsaw YTN Roundtable, with Anne Applebaum
On February 17, 2015, GMF’s Warsaw office hosted another meeting of its chapter of the Young Transatlantic Network. The roundtable discussion was led by Anne Applebaum, columnist for The Washington Post and Slate, Pulitzer Prize winning author, and Director of the Transitions Forum at the Legatum Institute in London. The discussion focused on transatlantic policy toward Russia. In her opening remarks, Ms. Applebaum stated that Europe and the US have just woken up after a couple decades of believing that Russia could be a partner who would like to eventually join Western institutions. She holds that Western leaders no longer have any illusions regarding Russia’s intentions.
It was assessed that Russia seeks to disrupt ties between Germany and Central and Eastern Europe, and that it wants EU foreign policy to fail, hence the ties it has developed with anti-Europe parties. There was affirmation that Russia has infiltrated the Ukrainian security service, and direct connections were drawn between the takeover of Crimea and NKVD actions in 1945. It was also touched upon how Russia is now losing money due to a combination of falling oil prices, sanctions, a loss of foreign investment, and the fact that its corrupt economy has been quite poorly run in recent years. It was purported that this could make it less likely that Russia will be able to finance foreign political campaigns in the near future. Nevertheless, Ms. Applebaum maintained that she does not wish Russians ill; she wishes them a prosperous and successful economy, but with better government.
The open discussion that followed featured a number of topics, ranging from propaganda campaigns, through hybrid warfare, to provocations in the Baltic States, and finally to the recent talks in Minsk. Despite differences between Western countries, it was stressed that intergovernmental cooperation on issues such as sanctions has been a great success, and possibilities were examined for further cooperation between EU countries, the US, and NATO in forming prudent long term policies for dealing with Russia. The evening concluded with a book signing by Anne Applebaum.