Former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul explained in a column published on the website of the newspaper the Washington Post, why a British exit from the EU is a victory for Russian President Vladimir Putin.
McFaul begins with a description of how Putin during his work in Dresden “helplessly watched Soviet ally East Germany — slipped out of Moscow’s orbit, has teamed up with West Germany and joined the democratic part of Europe.” Then Putin “watched the Soviet Union’s collapse — an event which he later described as the greatest tragedy of the 20th century,” wrote the former Ambassador. “For about three decades, the West has consolidated, while the East was falling apart. The trend toward a Europe whole and free was so powerful that earlier Russian leaders have even flirted with joining to it,” McFaul said, adding that the trend “reversed”.
According to McFaul, the decision of the British to leave the EU “was not the first event in this reversal, but probably the most dramatic”. “Europe is weakening, while Russia, its allies and multilateral organizations konsolidiruyutsya even attract new members,” — said the former Ambassador. Putin, of course, was not the cause of the result of the vote for Brexit, but he and his goals in foreign policy will benefit greatly from it,” writes McFaul.
In addition, he said, the most important is that “the most fundamental criticism of Russian aggression in Europe will no longer have a voice in Brussels.” “It’s good for the interests of Putin’s bad for the national interests of the United States,” says McFaul. He also drew attention to the fact that London previously contributed to the “promotion of common [with the US. — note:] interests within the EU on security issues in non-European countries — from Iran to Libya and down to the Pacific ocean.” “This “Anglo-Saxon” perspective in this most important international organization is now lost,” concludes the former Ambassador.
UK, as McFaul said, was “the most able member” of the EU despite “complex relationship” with the Union, this country contributed to his work “for its world-class armed forces and qualified diplomatic corps.” The absence of these resources, personnel and assets in the EU will ultimately weaken the organization” that “promotes the policy goals of Putin” stressed the former Ambassador.
“The diplomats from the countries-EU members, seeking reconciliation with Moscow, it became easier. The diplomats of the EU, struggling to resist Russian aggression, especially from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, has become more difficult,” he writes.
McFaul also lists a number of “checks” that await the West in connection with the withdrawal of Britain from the EU. The first concerns sanctions against Russia. Moscow mayor Sergei Sobyanin made his prediction: “Without the UK in the EU has no one so eager to defend sanctions against us,” McFaul said, expressing the hope that the mayor is mistaken.
The second “check”, according to the former Ambassador, is that policies in the EU support Putin and oppose organizations that “have become a little stronger.” In the example McFaul cites the head of the “National front” marine Le Pen. “Other nationalist, xenophobic and isolationist leaders and parties on the continent, who share her [Le Pen. — note] views have begun to call for a referendum in their countries,” writes McFaul, paying attention also to support the withdrawal of Britain from the EU of the candidate in US presidents from Republican party of Donald trump.
The third “check” is “doubt about the feasibility of membership in the EU”, which “weaken Putin’s opponents in Ukraine”. According to McFaul, the Pro-European ideas in Ukraine “will face more scrutiny of skeptics who will ask questions about why Ukraine should strive to join the club that leave the other”.
Fourth “test” that is “the closest ally of the U.S. votes in multilateral forums, which had exerted diplomatic pressure on issues of global security and advocate of democratic values, became a little weaker”. “This is a victory for Putin”, — wrote McFaul. In his opinion, the British economy will shrink in the short — and perhaps longer — term. “At least our partner will be distracted for years, trying to resolve internal problems and negotiating with Brussels on the way out,” said the former Ambassador. In addition, and probably the separation of Scotland and even Northern Ireland. “Such destruction will dramatically reduce the power and authority of one of our closest [of the United States. — note] allies,” says McFaul.
In parallel to these “breaks” in Europe, Putin consolidates power,” says the former Ambassador. In particular, he explains Russian leader managed to stop NATO expansion and slow expansion of the United States” and “to extend economic hegemony in the former Soviet Union through a Eurasian economic Union.” “As a result of military intervention in the Syrian conflict, Putin has expanded Russia’s presence in the middle East, while Europe and the US retreated. Most strikingly, its management model and leadership style still influences European fans in some governments in some societies,” McFaul said.
Summing up, former Ambassador at the same time concludes that “in the long term, Russia is still suffering from many internal problems and wayward partners and EAE”. Meanwhile the West, according to McFaul, “will find ways to calibrate collaboration. “But the short-term shift in the balance of power between the United democratic Europe and unfree Russia are clear and disturbing,” he concludes.
On June 24, after the results of a referendum on Brexit, McFaul congratulated Putin, the Russian foreign Ministry, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin and the head of the Duma Committee on international Affairs Alexei Pushkov “great victory”. “Putin is not to blame! Cameron’s fault. Putin just won,” — said McFaul.
The Russian President, commenting on Brexit at the SCO summit in Tashkent, said that the exit of Britain from the EU will have consequences for Europe and Russia. “In fact, for Europe as a whole and for us it will have consequences. If the organization of the referendum and the subsequent available today results nothing like self-confidence and a superficial approach to the solving of global problems for their own country, and for Europe as a whole with the leadership of the UK, the consequences would be global in nature, they will be a plus sign and a minus sign,” — said Putin.
“The markets will decline, they’ve already subsided, but in the medium term all will be restored of course. Then there will be more — pluses or minuses, will show the life, the practice will show,” he said.
A referendum on the question of exit and the EU was held on 23 June. By the end the supporters of Brexit won with 51.9 per cent (17.4 million people). Opponents of the achieved results in 48.1% (16,14 million). The turnout was 71.9%.
In Brussels after the decision of the people of the UK called the authorities as soon as possible to start the implementation of the decision on withdrawal from the EU. “We expect the United Kingdom government will begin to execute the decision of the British people as soon as possible, no matter how painful the process,” — said in a joint statement, the leaders of the Union. In turn, Prime Minister of great Britain David Cameron announced the decision to resign. He explained to him that considers the correct preservation of Britain in the EU.