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Should Europe be alarmed by Boris Yeltsin's Russia?

"Russia is becoming less and less of a force to be taken seriously..."
Martin Walker, former Moscow Correspondent for the Guardian

"We have to worry about Russia's weakness, not Russia's strength."
Anatole Lieven, of the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London

Click here to listen to both sides of the debate
Listen to our debate hosted by Laurence Zavriew. Do you agree with the views of our contributors?

Background ¦ Your reaction ¦ Listen to the debate

The Background:

This week the European Union is embarking on a new chapter in its relations with Russia.

Russia crisis
It is setting out a plan - to be confirmed at the summit in Cologne - which aims to restore full democracy and prosperity to that once mighty country.

But will Russia grow closer to the rest of Europe, or become more and more estranged?

The signals emanating from Moscow are contradictory - both internally, on the power of its president, and externally, on its attitude to the Kosovo war.

Should Europe be alarmed by Boris Yeltsin's Russia?

Talking Point - Europewide
This week's Europewide debate, hosted by Laurence Zavriew, pits Martin Walker, formerly the Guardian's Moscow correspondent, now in Brussels for the paper, against Anatole Lieven of the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London.

Background ¦ Your reaction ¦ Listen to the debate

Your Reaction:

No, Yeltsin has more to fear from Europe and America, we have tried to discredit and undermine that country for the last 100 years. The Cold War was started by America not Russia _ who murdered the first humans with nuclear weapons? The Americans! We should fear Uncle Sam more than Russia. Europe should help to re-build Russia and rely less on the Yanks.
Margaret Blackie, UK

Don't gloat too much and don't wake a sleeping tiger or you might live to regret it. With Nato's war of aggression in the Balkans, Russian forces on the side of the Serbs could embroil the participants in another World War. Russia is in a very unpredictable stage at present and could quite conceivably return to her former self under communism.
Philip Scaduto, USA

Russia is not a threat to Europe. But, some of the leaders of the 'old regime' who want to take Russia back to the days of Communism are a 'threat' to Russia. Of course, the evolution of the 'right wing' is a problem too. The young Russian nazis that you read about are really quite dangerous. But, for now, this is mainly to those who are trying to establish a stable democracy.
It is in this time that Russia needs help from the rest of European countries. Help to continue developing a 'market' economy. Help to be financed to follow a course that can open up new markets for their products.
And, a chance to participate closer with the Western countries in economic development.
Dave Adams, USA

The Russians are a proud people (and rightly so). Any humiliation which they feel today will be cause for retribution tomorrow. We also need to see that the reforms which the West has been trying to help Russia through have almost brought Russia to a complete halt. What are the people of Russia supposed to think? What can they see? What are they to base their judgements on?
Richard, Wales

I think we should but at the same time we only have ourselves to blame. after "winning" the cold war we have done everything possible to humiliate them. sooner or later they will lash out in an unpredictable way.
Chris, Spain

Russia has a tradition of social fights for justice and democracy, while some western countries' governments that are supposed to be civilised are nothing but hypocrites. Their citizens believe that they live in democratic states. But what kind of democracy is this when most of the mass media are controlled? The greatest threat of the world peace are the USA and GB goverments (not the people) as history taught us.
Defkalion Tsagarakis, Greece

It wasn't very long ago that the West was singing the praises of a certain Serbian leader and look how quickly things can change. Yeltsin is old and sick, but ambitious men lurk behind every corner in an old world nation, there is a replacement for him. The question is whether Russians decide to spill a little more of their blood in the search for the next leader.
Mike, Hong Kong

Economic troubles and a troubled military combined with a huge loss of national pride in recent years is a dangerous recipe for extreme reactionary politics of the worst kind. Yeltsin's Russia has striking resemblance to the Weimar Republic. Russia should not be mocked - this is only adding salt into the wounds...
Dan Godfrey, England

We should be concerned about the effects of the instability of a large country next to Europe. By virtue of its size any fallout will be felt by us. This is not just in the present but in the future.
Mark Sargeant, UK

It is high time for him to go! Come on, folks. Don't you think it is too much for a country within a century? 2 revolutions, 2 wars, Stalinism, Breznevism, and now -- the so called Russian capitalism(Mafia and crime embedded)?
Do you think that there is a political or economic system in Russia as of today? If any, the name of it is Chaos. Is Yeltsin in charge? I do not think so. It is time for a more responsible and stable person to lead Russia. Russian people have seen so much, they do not deserve the humiliation, food shortage, massive health problems they currently experience.
The world will be a safer place if Russia has stability. It could be very dangerous for a superpower to go from the top all the way to the bottom. Yeltsin enjoys his power. He does not work for the people that elected him. Firing Primakov was the biggest mistake he made. As always, my heart is with Russia and its strong people; I hope they elect someone who will not further debilitate and humiliate the common people.
Chris M, USA

I think that Yeltsin has overstayed his welcome. In any other democracy, someone of his ill health would have been replaced years ago.
Robin Moffat, Scotland

Russia is in enough trouble already. If Yeltsin goes the only ones who will replace him are the hard-liners. Better the devil you know than the devils you don't.
Richard French, UK

I think that Yeltsin is a good leader, but has no option but to resign due to his health. Having someone so ill in charge of a very powerful nation is surely incorrect; it would be best for him to name his successor and then part with dignity.
Tom Morgan, UK

Would you want his Job?
Could anyone do a better Job?
Should he leave, yes.
Does anybody want his Job, who is not crazy?
That is what we should ask.
Robert J. Haavind, USA

Yes, he should step down immediately, he is not only the economy downturn and political turmoil in Russia, but also unable to stop the US and NATO missile flying around the world.
B. Wong, Singapore

Who is this man who fired a prime minister only to consolidate his own power when he is supported by the people and had reached very important agreements with the international organisations?
Mr. Yeltsin is increasingly unpredictable and is difficult to have confidence in him, what is gonna be the next step in his alcoholic career?
Miguel Garcia, Spain

How about a foreign exchange Bill for Boris, just till the end of their term.
K. Edwards, USA

It's quite painful for me to see my country being run by a person like Boris Yeltsin. A country like Russia is being humiliated by a sick man. Centuries of tradition, culture, honour being were destroyed during the last eight years of our so called democracy. What is democracy anyway?! Just a legend.......
Or maybe a tool to achieve world domination, and alternative evil to communism.
People, if you call the last ten years in Russian history a democratic process then anyone who calls himself a democrat is a disgrace to all humankind. I'm a patriot who cares to see his country strong and respected. good luck to all........
Fedor Voropaev, Russia

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