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    In a recent article for business newspaper Dagens Næringsliv, retired Norwegian military officer and political figure Herald Ruud notes that despite politicians' talk of Russian aggression over Crimea, the reality is that Russia is a great power, simply defending its interests as such, and that the West must recognize this fact.

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    In a recent article for business newspaper Dagens Næringsliv, retired Norwegian military officer, political figure and businessman Harald Ruud notes that despite politicians' talk of Russian aggression over Crimea, the reality is that Russia is a great power, simply defending its interests as such, and that the West must recognize this fact.

    In the article, Ruud states that Russia's decision to accept Crimea into the Russian Federation last year was necessitated by strategic, military and political considerations, adding that Europe's overreaction has left relations with Russia in a hopeless deadlock, resulting in tremendous losses for Norwegian and European businesses.

    "We must accept that Russia is and will continue to be a great power, which seeks to interact with all members of the world community as a great power," the journalist noted.

    Ruud explains that when Russian President Vladimir Putin accepted Crimea's request to join the Russian Federation last year amid the political fallout over Maidan, the leadership had, "in its view, significant military-strategic and political grounds for doing so."

    The journalist recalls that Russia had signed an agreement with Ukraine on the extension of its Black Sea Fleet's presence in the Crimean coastal city of Sevastopol until 2042, but that Maidan and Ukraine's flirtation with the EU and NATO even before that threatened this agreement. "Russia [was] forced to take steps to provide for a stable environment for the Black Sea Fleet and the armed forces based in Crimea and Sevastopol."

    Ruud explains that in the situation which had developed in March 2014, Russia had two options: to bring Crimea into Russia, "reconciling with the short term negative consequences the country would have with the international community," or to engage in a hopeless dialogue "with Ukrainian authorities and with the NATO and EU forces which backed them." The journalist argues that Putin clearly understood that "the second option was completely unrealistic."

    Exaggeration of Russian Threat Lead Only to Economic Losses

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    Ruud believes that Western leaders have inflated the geopolitical threat stemming from the conflict over Crimea with their arguments that other countries may be annexed He notes that the economic sanctions imposed against the country "have had a negative impact on businesses and citizens' well-being in all countries [involved]."

    The journalist states that amid statements from Norwegian political figures about Putin's "aggressive isolationism," the "representatives of business circles in Norway and Western Europe continue to suffer substantial economic losses due to the anti-Russian sanctions." He recommends that political leaders offer some "concrete options" for ending the deadlock over the Crimean issue, non-negotiable for Russia, rather than allowing it to fester further.

    Ultimately, the journalist believes that what the West needs is "to understand and respect the Russian people, and to search for the fastest ways to a peaceful and constructive coexistence in Europe."

    Related:

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    national interests, geopolitics, opinion, sanctions, Herald Rudd, Norway, Europe, Russia
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