• Fri
  • Sep 19, 2014
  • Updated: 6:53am
CommentInsight & Opinion
LEADER

Do not close the door on Russia

PUBLISHED : Friday, 01 August, 2014, 3:55am
UPDATED : Friday, 01 August, 2014, 8:51am

Russia faces being isolated by the West over its perceived unhelpfulness in investigating the downing by a missile of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17. President Vladimir Putin's global standing had already been dented for supporting separatism in Ukraine and muzzling the free speech and the rights of sexual minorities in his country, for which there had been economic sanctions and diplomatic snubs. The US and European allies have toughened measures and Australian politicians are calling for the Russian leader to be barred from the G20 summit later this year. But such steps are dangerous and counterproductive; the world needs to be talking to Russia, not closing the door on it.

Few nations are as loathed in the West. A widespread belief is that Putin is trying to recreate the former Russian empire, Ukraine being a goal just as Georgia was in 2008. An opinion poll by the US-based Pew Research taken before the July 17 downing of MH17 showed almost three-quarters of Americans and Europeans held unfavourable views. Only in East Asia was support strong, with backing in China the highest at 66 per cent.

Russia may have been supporting separatists in Ukraine, but that does not mean it is behind the MH17 tragedy. Dutch calls for Putin's daughter to be kicked out of the country and Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott's suggestion that the president be prevented from attending the G20 summit in Brisbane in November are over-reactions made without conclusive evidence. Only through a thorough and impartial investigation can blame be determined and even then, given tampering with bodies and wreckage, that may be impossible. At the least, though, Russia has to fully cooperate.

The West needs Russia's help in resolving Syria's civil war, the continuing conflict in Afghanistan and curtailing Iran's nuclear ambitions. Western Europe needs Russian oil and gas. Nor will isolating Russia help the MH17 inquiry. The world has common challenges and keeping all countries engaged, no matter what their standpoints, is necessary to resolve them.

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This article is now closed to comments

ennoun
Not a question of "Western standards". The fact is that based on the damning evidence compiled and presented, it's clear that Russia (i.e. approved by Putin) supplied the missile that brought the airplane down. Furthermore, satelite evidence has shown the two Ukrainian fighter planes shot down recently were with missile launchers based in Russia'. Also, let's not forget the illegal takeover of Crimea.
Should Putin not be punished for these acts? It would seem that unless firm action is taken he will simply continue doing what he does. Accordingly, by all means, do not include him in the upcoming G20 summit, pretending it's buiness as usual, when it is not. Keep him isolated.
Wonder why China and its leaders continue to stay quiet, focusing instead on building a much larger military? Are they expecting to be attacked any time soon?
clc2
Do not close the door on Russia? Correct. Slam it.
TigerJ
As PhilPaul suggested, SCMP should check its facts and details.
Nevertheless, I agree with the overall tone of the article. The world cannot afford to shut out large countries like Russia or China.
Western standards should not be blindly imposed on everyone.
philpaul
"Dutch calls for Putin's daughter to be kicked out of the country and Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott's suggestion that the president be prevented from attending the G20 summit in Brisbane in November are over-reactions made without conclusive evidence."
There were no such Dutch calls - the call was made by 1 person, mayor of Hilversum, who subsequently apologised and faced calls to resign. Tony Abbott did not make that suggestion; other politicians did. Will the SCMP please check facts before printing anything? You are supposed to be the paper of record in English language for Hong Kong.
 
 
 
 
 

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