George Weigel

To Sanctify the World: The Vital Legacy of Vatican II

Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Post Type Selectors

Policy Toward Russia

The first thing Russia must understand is that the United States wants reform to succeed there. We want, in other words, a stable, democratic, economically successful, and secure Russia. This is one major reason why we insist that there be no Yalta II. Besides further destabilizing an already unstable area, Russian imperial assertiveness would be a terrible distraction from the enormous task of reconstruction that Russia must complete over the next several generations, if it is finally to achieve its long-sought place as a great power in the modern world. Indeed, one of the best things we could do right now would be to persuade Russian leaders that any possible future their country may have as a great power is entirely dependent on their forswearing, for the foreseeable future, the imperial assertiveness traditionally associated with great-power status in Europe. Russia is a basket case, and it will become even more of one if it does not devote its attention to economic reform and democratic consolidation. Moreover, failure to make progress on these fronts, particularly the economic one, will only heighten the possibility of a Vladimir Zhirinovsky coming to power: at which point Russia would again become an adversary whose containment would be a principal goal of U.S. policy.

Thus the United States ought to make clear to Russia—and with programs, not merely rhetoric— that it is prepared to stay the course in support of Russian economic and political reform, and that the payoff for reformist success will be the incorporation of Russia into a general European security system. But we ought to make it equally clear that our support for economic and political reform does not constitute even a tacit acceptance of any neo-imperialist tendencies within the current Russian reform coalition. The notion of an extensive Russian sphere of influence in central Europe is a holdover from Stalin and has no place in the future of a democratic, prosperous, and secure Russia.

George Weigel is Distinguished Senior Fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C. and holds EPPC’s William E. Simon Chair in Catholic Studies.

Share This Post

Latest Articles

International Affairs

When Ideology and Blasphemy Meet

In May 1993, the “World Russian People’s Council,” a “meeting place” for those “concerned about the present and future of Russia,” was created at the instigation of Metropolitan Kirill of


Baseball and Rumors of Angels

One of my life’s great blessings has been to have known and worked with men and women whose books I first studied in college and graduate school. High on that

Popular Articles


Stay in the know by receiving George Weigel’s weekly newsletter