From the Economist: What explains Europe’s double standards over America and Russia? Partly, it is hypocrisy. The EU is Russia’s biggest trade partner; in 2008, Russia was the EU’s second market for exports. Partly, it is Russia’s skill at playing on divisions within the block. But some of Europe’s tolerance of Russia goes beyond this. Despite many disappointments and shocks, such as the 2008 war with Georgia, plenty of EU types still dream of transforming Russia. They once talked of Russia as a “strategic partner”. The new buzz phrase is a "modernisation partnership…"
Alas, everyone is talking at cross purposes. The EU hopes that modernisation means aligning Russia with the union’s values and norms. For Russian officials, says Dmitri Trenin of the Carnegie Moscow Centre, modernisation means “Russia using its resources to buy assets in Europe, and Europe supplying Russia with technology.” In EU circles, there is much cheery talk of soft power and “people to people contacts”, including Russian billionaires heading to western Europe to buy homes, educate children, consult doctors or hide their loot. This may be wishful thinking. Enjoying a place’s pleasures is not the same as embracing its values. Rich men rarely seek lessons in ethics from their butlers or their bankers. (graphic: Peter Schrank/Economist)