What You Need To Know:
✓ Obama won't engage in any meaningful action against Putin because his presidency is almost over;
✓ Germany's Merkel understands that Putin is deceptive, but Obama and Kerry don't seem to;
✓ It's important to distinguish between the Russian people, and those in charge;
✓ Everything Putin does in his foreign policy should have a heavy price.
“I fear that Russia may manipulate us Americans," says Jeff Gedmin, senior fellow at Georgetown University. "Whatever transpires in the next weeks in Syria, Vladimir Putin may try to convince the President of the United States and Secretary of State John Kerry, saying let’s work together on Syria and fighting ISIS, and if we cooperate on fighting ISIS, I need your help in Ukraine because please, Ukraine is our backyard, and please, you have to help me a little bit if I help you.”
Gedmin thinks that would be a disastrous course to pursue because the West would be manipulated again. "He would deceive us again and I don’t think our interests are aligned at all, I think he’s about something totally different."
He goes onto say, “first of all, remember that the President will only be President for another 14 months, so the clock is running, second of all this is a President who has not wanted to have confrontation in foreign policy, so in the last months, he will most certainly want to avoid confrontation and third of all, there’s this view, I think it’s naïve, that Vladimir Putin can help us on different issues in different fronts. I think it’s very short sighted and naïve, but he might be susceptible to that and open to that. It could be seen as a way to stay out of confrontation in his last year in office.”
He believes that only the German Chancellor understands the true Putin. "Mrs. Merkel knows that Vladimir Putin lies, and he knows that she knows that Vladimir Putin lies. I’m not sure that Obama and Kerry know that he lies.”
He believes that there is now a soft period now of 14 months where this Russia led by Putin has largely a free hand.
He hopes that new US presidential administration will make a distinction between Putin and the Russian people then make the acknowledgement that 'there is a group of men who are kleptocrats led by Putin who are looting Russia financially, spiritually, culturally under the guise of nationalism and they will leave it a rotten and empty shell'.
"I think we have to squeeze Russia," says Gedmin "If Putin wants to change his views tomorrow and work with us, we should be open to that but I think that’s highly unlikely so therefore let’s squeeze him. Sanctions are good, military support for Ukraine is good. He wins the propaganda war right now, in part because he’s smart, he’s aggressive and puts up resources, but also because we’re absent. We don’t play and participate. We’re still a couple years behind thinking what will he do next and how will we react?"
Finally, he says that "Every time that the West has tried to respect Putin, and tried accommodation to bring relations back to normal with Russia, Putin has acted like a gangster, like a mafia boss, and interpreted that as a sign of weakness."
Hromadske International interviewed Jeff Gedmin of Georgetown University in Kyiv in November 2015.