International Security // Comments

20 august 2014

I do believe that we can overcome our disagreements over the Ukrainian crisis

Vitaly Naumkin Director of the RAS Institute for Oriental Studies, RAS Full Member, RIAC member

No doubt, putting Russian security chiefs on the EU sanctions list further complicates Russia – West counter-terrorist cooperation, but cannot completely destroy it given the size of the threat emanating from terrorism and religious extremism for both sides.

One example: According to Guido Steinberg from Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik, Chechen jihadist fighters in Syria “represent a domestic security problem for Europe and Turkey” because many of them come from the diaspora – Georgia, Turkey, and “dozens from Austria and France and rather fewer from Belgium, Scandinavia and Germany.”

What will be their agenda when they come back home and who are they going to fight against? Without meaningful cooperation, we’ll be not able to deter this threat. Another example: ISIS leaders declare that they will be killing Americans everywhere in the world.

Doesn’t the U.S. need cooperation with all partners including Russia to obstruct terrorists from inflicting damage to U.S. citizens inside and outside the U.S.? Russia, in turn, also needs international support in its struggle against terrorism and extremism.

I do believe that we can overcome our disagreements over the Ukrainian crisis however serious they are and at least preserve what is left from the cooperation between Russia and the West in the field of security, which is becoming more and more indispensable for them in this era of hyper-globalization.

This cooperation is indispensable but deep mistrust will prevent us from raising it to the level of collective efforts with other partners. Given this, our respective collaboration with such important regional partners as Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Israel, Egypt and others will be confined to bilateral relationships.

In this realm it is extremely important not to allow us to revive the Cold-War-style zero-sum game in these relationships. I’m sure that at some point we’ll be working together against ISIS but on parallel independent tracks.

Source: Russia Direct

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Vitaly Naumkin, “I do believe that we can overcome our disagreements over the Ukrainian crisis,” Russian International Affairs Council, 20 August 2014,

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