Europe has been unable to swallow the fact that Russia is not organized and run as European democracies are. The prime European value is freedom but the question in Russia how to keep such a huge country together is one that will always supersede European values. This has to be taken into consideration and we should try to manage our relations well, in the spirit of international law, rather than trying to lecture them constantly and then losing the opportunity to cooperate with them.
I would add that really the same goes for China, too. I thought it would be an interesting debate to discuss if “freedom”, as it is meant in the Western civilization, is applicable everywhere or if this approach should be considered “pragmatics” or “opportunism”… Then I realized this would be essentially a “The end of history and the last man” vs. “Clash of civilizations” debate. (In a nutshell, Francis Fukuyama proclaimed that “Western liberal democracies mean the end of history” and eventually the whole Earth will live in such political systems. On the other hand Samuel Huttington predicted a perpetual conflict fought by the “incompatible” civilizations shown on the map)
Let me note then when the Western phrase “massive human rights abuses in Russia” often means “Russia has passed laws and policies to repress LGBT citizens” then I’m not particularly convinced who is on the “right side of history”. Ah, yes, that refers to the “US State Department’s 2013 report on human rights” you can read about here.