The Atlantic journalists spoke with British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss about the position of Britain and the West towards Russia, world politics and the future. The digest of this conversation is presented by the Pervodika channel.
The present time, according to Truss, brings many unexpected things: the second army of the world has encountered great difficulties in combat operations against one of the poorest countries in Europe, and the idea of the inevitable decline of the West has suddenly ceased to be an axiom - the free world was quite able to get out of its stupor and defend myself.
Moreover, Britain believes that the West must accept reality: Moscow and Beijing will not play by the rules and should not be expected from them, the UN and the WTO are not serving their purpose, and democracy and development are not necessarily the same.
The West must protect its values, and Truss calls for turning the G7 into a kind of economic NATO that can protect its members from Chinese economic manipulation, and the West must stop being ashamed of its success and its values, and start trusting itself.
Britain has been experiencing internal division and strategic confusion for several years, but now it has received an injection of energy and ambition and self-confidence.
For Moscow, Great Britain has become one of the main enemies, wishing to prevent the revival of the greatness of Russia, "one of the two heads of the great Anglo-American dragon, more evil than Washington."
Truss, like Boris Johnson, has insisted on a British response to Putin's actions in Ukraine and is now calling for a rethinking of the world order, including the role of the UN and the WTO. For many politicians, this is not a new idea, but rather an attempt to spread British influence and a reaction to the exit from the EU, which made Britain more in need of other international organizations.
France sees the future rather in the independence of the EU from the US. However, politics without the participation of Britain and the United States was not so successful: France and Germany facilitated the Minsk agreements after the annexation of Crimea in 2014, which became a disaster. Truss believes that it was precisely the non-participation of Britain and the United States at that stage that was erroneous, and this mistake she does not intend to repeat.
In Europe, the position of the UK is not encouraging, and according to many politicians, it hinders the ceasefire in Ukraine. Here everyone blames each other: Europe accuses Truss of populism before the election for Johnson's position, Britain accuses Europe of weakness.
So far, the general position of the West is closer to the British one: Putin "has to fail, and to show that he has failed," Johnson said. Therefore, one should not look for ways of retreat for the Russian president.
Russia's ambitions, according to Truss, pose a threat to all of Europe and must be stopped. She believes that the West is responsible for its weakness - the admission of China to the WTO or the lack of response of the Obama administration to the annexation of Crimea, which Russia regarded as Western inaction.
Truss believes that the West should more actively protect its freedoms and not allow China and Russia to abuse them. “Free trade can be used by kleptocracies, authoritarian regimes to create dependence on themselves. We couldn't think it through because we took freedom for granted."
According to critics, Truss deliberately imitates Margaret Thatcher, and her rhetoric often resembles the rhetoric of the Cold War of the 80s, and she does not hide her close interest in that era - because, in her opinion, the Cold War did not end, and the upcoming battle will not only for the economy, but also for ideas, not only with an external threat, but also with an internal one.
Western liberalism, which only the lazy has not attacked in recent decades, draws strength for itself in a simpler and black-and-white world of good and evil, freedom and lack of freedom. And Britain can again take on the mission of a hawk and a freedom fighter. Although Truss denounces political idealism, she believes in the free world. Her directness has its advantages in politics, allowing it to defy the caution of bureaucrats.
Truss's position, shaped by 1980s politicians Thatcher and Reagan, is not new in this sense - many governments acknowledge that the post-Cold War decades were marked for many Western countries by "a disastrous combination of arrogance, hypocrisy and inaction". However, whether people in the West believe in the victory of the ideals of freedom and democracy as they did in the 1980s is an open question. And even if these ideas are too naive or simplistic, enough people supported them in the past to be strong. In trying to resurrect its historical power, Russia has reminded other countries of their own history, and Britain hopes to resurrect it too, says Truss.