Chatham House guru James Nixey explained that the colossal “misunderstanding” was the single “biggest problem” with the long-standing relationship between Russia and the West. He told Express.co.uk: “I think, sometimes, the West believes that Putin is 10 feet tall. And that there’s a certain need to tread carefully, walk on eggshells.
“I think people are genuinely afraid of this slightly sinister, ex-KGB colonel who clearly doesn’t have any particular love for the West.
“The biggest misconception is that we ultimately all want the same thing and it’s just a misunderstanding.
“That’s not true. In fact, the biggest problem is we both want fundamentally different things and we’re too afraid to acknowledge it.
“Everybody wants to think they can make nice with Putin.
JUST IN: ‘You must listen to Russia!’ Putin seeking to sideline the EU
“Every new politician that comes into power thinks they can be the Nixon in China -that they can do what their crap predecessor was too incompetent to do.
“But that’s not a reflection on them – it’s a reflection on the fundamental nature of what the Russian polity wants.
“They want a larger share of the international pie, and they’re fighting for it.
“And, sometimes, that fight is legitimate. Sometimes it’s illegitimate. Sometimes it’s clean, sometimes it’s dirty.
“And the West hasn’t been willing to give it to them.”
Mr Nixey’s comments were reinforced by fellow geopolitical expert Kier Giles, who said the “West persistently tries to reset relations with Russia – to start all over again on a clean sheet and hope that things will be better this time.
“The persistent lesson of all the previous attempts at doing this is that it simply does not matter.
“What would be far more stable and less dangerous would be to, rather than encourage Russia into thinking that it can get away with all of its hostile actions and will be forgiven and everyone can get back to business to business as usual…
“Instead, we need to recognise that, actually, there is this contradiction and conflict in terms of what Russia and the West actually want.
“That it’s not going to be possible to resolve.
“Living with the differences instead of pretending that they don’t exist would be a far more stable basis for the relationship.”
A December 2018 UK foreign policy document described Russian relations unfavourably.
It read: “Other significant challenges come from Russia, a declining power, which is exploiting both traditional and new methods, such as cyber capabilities, to act as a disrupter.
“In the face of Russia’s provocations, the UK should continue to seek to counter and deter its activities, but must also remain open to dialogue with Russia on issues such as counter-terrorism and non-proliferation.”