- 14 April 2015
Public Program | Brown Bag Lunch: “Putin's leadership and its implications for the West”
On April 14, 2015, the Aspen Institute Germany hosted a brown bag lunch with Dr. Fiona Hill, Director of the Center on the United States and Europe at Brookings Institution and co-author of “Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin”. Together with moderator Rüdiger Lentz and 22 guests, Dr. Hill spoke about “Putin's leadership and its implications for the West.”
According to her, one could have seen the annexation of Crimea coming, because of the region’s symbolism for Russians. She stated that Putin’s goal was a dominant Russia, both economically and politically. Hill described the dilemma of the West's reaction: While appearing too weak may include the risk of not being taken seriously enough, appearing too strong might eventually make Putin more prone to use his nuclear arsenal. According to Dr. Hill, Putin’s ultimate opponent was the United States, as he is striving for a similarly exceptional stance in international politics.
She described Putin as a hardly predictable character with many faces, which is why he is in control of both the power to escalate and the power to deescalate. In negotiations, this would play out as a tactical advantage, but the West’s unity would ultimately be a strategic advantage. Accordingly, Dr. Hill explained that Putin was trying to sow discord among Western countries by wooing EU-critical countries like Greece and Turkey.
She also provided insight on how the situation is perceived in the U.S.: Americans, she said, are afraid of being considered appeasers and any candidate for the presidency would be further on the right regarding America’s Russia policy than Obama.