Bottom Line: The annexion of Crimea, the troubles in Donetsk, the frequent incursions in foreign territories and the grueling sanctions on Russia, Vladimir Putain continues to take an erratic turn in asserting its sovereignty. The unified Western response to Russia has even its limits. Not since the days of the Cold War has the US-EU transatlantic partnership faced a more difficult test.
Review: Although it may seem odd why the French Consulate is hosting a discussion on Russia and foreign policy, the 934 Conference is not only a platform, where global issues and discussed, but it goes to the heart of French Republican values of debate and exchanges of ideas. Panel discussions with experts cover topics including: India, Pakistan, the COP21, European integration and even the Roman colonization of Provence. No matter your expertise on the selected topic, you will always learn something new.
This event moderated by Stephen F. Szabo, director of Transatlantic Academy included panelists: Marie Mendras also of the Transatlantic Academy, Researcher at Sciences Po in Paris and visiting fellow at Georgetown University, and Alexander Cooley from Barnard College and the German Marshall Fund gave their take on the rising tensions between Russia and the West.
Between the three experts, there was very little disagreement. Russia and the U.S. are locked in a game of chicken and hoping for the other to succumb to Ukraine fatigue. And in spite of many European countries’ desire to put an end to the rift with Russia, the panel agreed that Putin’s actions have done more to push the E.U. closer to the U.S. Meanwhile the sanctions have taken their toll on the Russian economy as well as on the European Union who relies on Russian natural gas. And as long as Washington and Moscow haven’t agreed on the terms to discuss Ukraine, the situation remains irreversable. Joy.
Despite the fascinating conversation and an informative Q&A, sadly, there wasn’t any cocktail reception, which had always been a great opportunity to rub shoulders with people in the field. It was a real shame because I always looked forward to chatting with the guests over a glass of champagne and a canapé or two. This time, unfortunately, at the end, the staff cleared the room, and everyone had to leave. There wasn’t even a coatcheck available that evening to drop off your briefcase, and I was left holding mine throughout the conference. Bugger.