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How should the West deal with Vladimir Putin?
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Vladimir Putin cannot be trusted

Any engagement with him will only create more opportunities for him to manipulate and undermine Western countries and their interests.
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Since Vladimir Putin first became President of Russia in 2000 relations between Russia and Western countries have steadily deteriorated. Despite attempts at actively resetting relations between 2008-10, tensions remain high, with many citing Vladimir Putin's increasingly authoritarian style as the prime cause.

The Argument

Vladimir Putin has demonstrated that he cannot be trusted and is actively working to undermine Western countries and their interests. From attempts to interfere in Western elections through the spreading of fake news to the use of chemical weapons to assassinate rivals on the streets of Salisbury, he has proven that he has no regard for international norms or domestic laws. Russia under his leadership offers anti-Western regimes military and financial support, including the clerical theocracy in Iran and the Maduro regime in Venezuela. While Russia's direct military intervention in the Syrian civil war has helped prop up the regime of Bashar-al Assad who has killed millions of his own people. Domestically Putin cuts an increasingly authoritarian figure imprisoning opposition figures, censoring the press, and re-writing the constitution to allow him to stay in office long past previous term-limits. Democracy activists allege that he has plundered the country to the tune of billions, making him one of the wealthiest men in the world [1] . It is unrealistic and naive to imagine that Putin will simply stop interfering in Western society or undermining Western interests, particularly as Russia undertakes an increasingly adventurous and aggressive foreign policy. Western countries instead should consider banding together to actively isolate Russia in international institutions and through economic sanctions to limit the opportunities Putin has to meddle.

Counter arguments

Vladimir Putin remains popular amongst the Russian people and has won every election he has stood in [2] . While the changes to the Russian constitution have allowed him to resume the presidency, he is hardly occupying the position of president for life and is currently expected to stand down in 2024 under the current term limits. Russia's adventurous foreign policy is a response, and not a precursor, to the West's own anti-Russian stance, which includes the continuation of NATO after the Cold War. Isolating Russia will not encourage Putin to become less antagonistic to the West; rather it will just encourage future behaviour that undermines international norms and the interests of Western countries.


[P1] Vladimir Putin is an authoritarian leader. [P2] Vladimir Putin is committed to undermining Western countries and Western interests.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P1] Vladimir Putin remains an elected leader. [Rejecting P2] Vladimir Putin is merely responding to anti-Russian sentiment in Western foreign policy.


This page was last edited on Wednesday, 5 Feb 2020 at 10:41 UTC