Does the West need autocrats to fight Putin? by Maciej Kisilowski


By embracing Poland’s quasi-authoritarian rule in the interest of using the Polish border as a gateway to Ukraine, the Western powers have made another Faustian bargain they will come to regret. The lessons of the deal struck with Turkey during the 2015 refugee crisis have been forgotten – or simply ignored.

VIENNA — In their scramble to counter Russian President Vladimir Putin’s murderous revenge, Western leaders seem increasingly willing to strike Faustian deals with other authoritarian regimes. So on March 16, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson traveled to Saudi Arabia to meet its de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, making him one of the few Western leaders to do so since the horrific murder. by Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.

Focused on finding alternatives to Russian oil, Johnson’s trip resembled a precedent of senior Latin American official of the United States National Security Council, Juan Gonzalez, who had visited Venezuela for talks with Nicolas Maduro’s regime. The United States has also given its blessing to Turkey, a NATO member with a dismal democratic record, as that country mediates talks between Ukraine and Russia.

Most surprising of all was the willingness of the European Union and NATO to grant a disproportionate role to the illiberal Polish government. Poland’s de facto leader, Law and Justice (PiS) party leader Jarosław Kaczyński, recently made global headlines as part of a delegation of heads of government from Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovenia in war-torn kyiv, where his “brave gesture” was hailed by the Western press.

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