Russia’s Ukrainian Path to the Future

For Russia's leaders, it is a matter of life and death that ex-Soviet countries that chose a different model of development – Ukraine being chief among them – should never become attractive to ordinary Russians. But Russia's rejection of Ukraine's pro-Western model is placing its own future its peril.

MOSCOW – Russia and the West are losing each other yet again. The magnetic attraction and repulsion between the two has been going on for centuries. Indeed, historians have counted as many as 25 such cycles since the reign of Tsar Ivan III.

In the past, however, Russia’s sharp anti-Western turns were reversed – usually out of simple necessity – after relations reached rock bottom. Not this time. On the contrary, the deterioration of the relationship nowadays has developed a momentum of its own.

There are four reasons for this. First, the “loss” of the Cold War, and with it imperial and superpower status, has created a deep and so far unresolved crisis in the collective mentality of Russia’s political class. Russian leaders continue to perceive the West as a phantom enemy in opposition to which all the traditional mythologies of Russian foreign policy are being resurrected.