I think that Andrei Tsygankov's article on "American Russophobia" in The Moscow Times (republished on this website last week) is a rather useful illustration of how current US rhetoric on Russia can be perceived.
Yet, there are, at least, three additions that need to be made to Tsygankov's argument:
- US "anti-Russian" rhetoric is not that particular. One can hear similar voices in both Western and Eastern Europe. Tsygankov reproduces here a common Russian allegation that the West's current "anti-Russianness" is a sole result of Russia's recent "resurgence" as an international economic and political factor, or even a pathological reaction to Russia's purported "rebirth" as an independent nation under Putin. However, as Tsygankov should know, much of the more competent criticism of current Russia comes from people who not only know and study, but actually like or even love the Russian people, culture and customs - not to mention the various Russians and half-Russians among the critics.
- Russia herself has created much of - what one may call - the institutional background of Western criticism of her internal developments. She has entered the Council of Europe, and transformed the G7 into the G8. Russia is a prominent member of the OSCE, and engages with NATO in a special Council. The fundamental basis of all of these organizations are, however, those principles which Putin has violated repeatedly in recent years. Moreover, the Russian political elite is mocking Western values by making up concepts like "sovereign democracy" - based on half-democratic procedures, pseudo-pluralism, subverted checks and balances, a government-manipulated civil society, etc. If, as Tsygankov seems to think, "Russophobia" is the major problem in Russian-Western relations, then Russia should leave the above organizations. This would immediately cool down Western criticism of Russia.
- Certainly, Western criticism of Russia has become harsh recently, and is, I agree with Tsygankov, sometimes ridiculously incompetent. Yet, this still does not compare to what Russia's most influential political commentators today publicly opine about the United States and NATO, on a daily basis. Whoever knows Russian and had the chance to watch Russian TV for a couple of days may agree that Russian views on Western foreign policies, in general, and the US's role in the world, in particular, are nothing less than paranoid. The bizarre conspiracy theorizing that has taken hold of Russian public opinion nowadays goes far beyond Western "Russophobia". The West is not simply criticized, but demonized and made responsible for many of the mishaps of recent Russian or even world history. In its daily portrayal in Russian mass media, the US political elite comes across as a bunch of scoundrels whose every word on Western intentions in international affairs needs to be seen as a purposeful lie.
[The full version of this comment is attached below. It appeared earlier on Johnson's Russia List and OpEdNews.]