Getting a foot in the door

Think tank: The Henry Jackson Society

Author(s): Dr Stephen G. F. Hall

November 8, 2023

This report from UK think tank the Henry Jackson Society suggests how preparations for a democratic future-Russia might begin.

Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine is now in its second year with no end in sight. Western military strategists and policymakers are now planning for increased weapons supplies and training for Ukrainian troops to prepare for a 2024 Spring offensive. Quite rightly, Western focus is on supporting Ukraine. Let’s be totally frank – Ukraine must win this war. The collective West has done well to remain united in its support, but it could be doing so much more.

However, there is an elephant in the room. What to do with Russia? There is an argument for seeking to isolate Russia. But a detached Russia – think a big North Korea – will be even more “paranoid, angry” and insular. This is not just Putin’s war, Russians share responsibility too. But treating all Russians as willing collaborators will increase regime support and make it harder to build a democratic future-Russia. Western governments must develop a democratic future-Russia plan and be ready to implement it in the event of regime collapse.

This report suggests how this can be achieved. As unpalatable as it may be to advocate Western support for a future-Russia, it is the only option to safeguard Europe. It will be a long and expensive path, but it must happen. This report suggests how preparations for a democratic future-Russia might begin. It is up to the Russian diaspora and elites to fully develop the plan, but Western governments must start this process.

The report relies on content analysis of available documents interspersed with anonymised interviews with academics, journalists and civil society activists – both Russian and non-Russian. The EU made a start on planning for future-Russia by meeting Russian opposition leaders in Brussels in June 2023, but more must be done.