Hindsight Up Front: Ukraine | Who is Vladimir Putin? A Conversation with Baroness Catherine Ashton
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Ambassador Mark Green, president and CEO of The Wilson Center, held a conversation with Baroness Catherine Ashton, the European Union’s first High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security, discussing the impact Russia’s war on Ukraine is having on Europe and the role of Vladimir Putin. Baroness Ashton has spent time with the Russian leader and has valuable insights to share.
“I think he’s afraid of democracy. I think what he sees as countries move towards and choose a democratic future are the prospects of what that would mean for his own country and for his own position and for the people around him. He sees that that means a free press, he sees that that means a mixed economy, he sees that that means alternate possibilities for who could be elected to lead a country. He sees that as parliamentary debate, he sees all of the things that we recognize as the underpinnings of democracy, the interwoven mesh from civil society to the way that the justice system works, and I think he fears that.”
“So the EU has always been hugely attractive to the countries around them—not least because of the economic benefits of being part of it—and for countries such as the Western Balkans, you’ve got membership applications in for many of them who want to be part of it, you’ve got Croatia and Slovenia already there. So, it’s attractive because of the economics, it’s attractive because there’s a sense of peace and security built on that and then next to that you have got NATO, the alliance that is defensive that is there to support people, and Article 5, which is the guarantee to each that we stand together. So, I think what we’re going to see—in the future—is an increasing understanding that these groupings of countries willing to pull together, willing to stand together, is the way forward when confronted with the kind of aggression that we did not expect to see again. And, having seen it again, I think that it will affect both how these two organizations develop but also how people view them as being the potential shelter, or their sustainability. For not just a military alliance and an economic alliance but for the values that we hold.”
This event is part of the Wilson Center's Hindsight Up Front | Ukraine initiative.
The Kennan Institute is the premier U.S. center for advanced research on Russia and Eurasia and the oldest and largest regional program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. The Kennan Institute is committed to improving American understanding of Russia, Ukraine, Central Asia, the Caucasus, and the surrounding region though research and exchange. Read more