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Russia and the West: between old geopolitics and collective action (article by Alexander Yakovenko for The Independent)

It is unfortunate that many nowadays engage quite lightly in the new Cold War rhetoric. It does not reflect the reality, only helps distort it for those who take comfort, or rather shelter, in prejudices of the past. And Russia for centuries served an ideal scapegoat for everything that went wrong in Europe and a wider world. The very notion of “Russian threat” is revived as a symbol of business as Cold War usual in Euro-Atlantic affairs.

I agree with Gideon Rachman (“Trump, Orban and the West’s great walls”, 1 March), who blames “the West’s journey from confidence to fear over the past 30 years”. Indeed, more powerful forces are at work. It is not Russia that explains growing skepticism about both globalization and liberal interventionism.

But, still, The BBC in its recent documentary “WW3: in the war room” ascribes to Russia not only aggressive intent, but also initiative of a nuclear escalation. It runs counter to the view of the NATO military, who acknowledge, that Russia feels safe behind the so called anti-access/area denial bubbles along the whole length of her western frontier. Why, too, ascribe to us WWII tactics, including armored columns and occupation, when it is obviously at odds with modern warfare?

The present state of NATO and the EU testifies to the blunder of their rushed politicised expansion after the end of the Cold War. In case of the EU it pushed aside other priorities, including further integration within euro zone and stronger common borders. The new members wanted to be on the right side of the fence, but still behind the fence. That is why today’s clash of expectations as well as values.

As regards NATO expansion, here we find a paradox when new members’ sense of insecurity is a function of their membership in the Alliance. For even fearmongers, trying to bridge the perceived credibility gap between the “Russian threat” and territorial defense requirements of the Cold War, talk of new members as NATO’s soft spot. This just causes tensions. Why not resolve the problem by way of finding common ground with Russia as we did until recently? If legal guarantees are needed, let’s establish a proper overarching collective security system.

We have come to the point when unilateralist options, based on the zero-sum geopolitics, have run their course. Met with unilateral responses by Russia the crises in Ukraine and Syria naturally prompted collective negotiated solutions, blessed by the UN Security Council resolutions. In case of Ukraine we have the Minsk-2 agreements, arrived at by the “Normandy Four”. In case of Syria this is the US-Russia leadership of the Vienna process, which has brought about the current ceasefire. It holds hope for a political settlement.

This truly cooperative approach to conflict resolution on a realistic basis has no sound alternatives. Among other things it is built upon the civil war experience of the Syrians who could have a glimpse of their future under the rule of foreign terrorists. Success of the peace process will help alleviate the present migration crisis in Europe, a product of the deadlock in Syria, that the outside world put up with for too long.

25 years after the Cold-War end, by trial and error, we have stumbled upon the right track and now must carry on.

Edited text of this article was published in The Independent on 10 March 2016


14.02.2018 - The international community needs a unified legal base to combat information crimes (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

Amid the rapid advance in technologies we face a growing number of cyber-crimes: in 2016, these offences caused damage of $445 billion and by 2020, according to experts, this figure can reach up to $3 trillion, exceeding the overall income received from the Internet.

26.01.2018 - UNGA: Glorification of Nazism must stop (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

In December the UN General Assembly (UNGA) adopted the traditional resolution on “Combating the glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance”. It was supported by an overwhelming majority of UN Member States: 133 states voted for this document, 57 became its co-sponsors, and only Ukraine and the United States voted against.

29.11.2017 - Afghan opium production jumps to record level (by Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko for RT)

According to the latest Afghanistan Opium Survey released by the Afghan Ministry of Counter Narcotics and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), in 2017 opium production in Afghanistan increased by 87 per cent to a record level of 9,000 metric tons. The area under opium poppy cultivation also grew by 63 per cent to its highest level of 328,000 hectares. Afghanistan is the world's top cultivator of the poppy from which opium and heroin are produced. The 2017 record levels of opium production and poppy cultivation create multiple challenges for the country, its neighbours and many other countries that serve as a transit for or a destination of Afghan opiates. The significant levels of opium poppy cultivation and illicit trafficking of opiates fuel instability, insurgency and increase funding to terrorist groups in Afghanistan.

19.10.2017 - Why to fight with memorials (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

The campaign in Poland against World War II memorials to Soviet officers and soldiers, who had liberated the country from the Nazi occupation, is gaining momentum. Warsaw has created a legal framework allowing the disposal of Soviet/Russian memorial objects or taking them out of public sight, including the most widespread monuments of gratitude to the Red Army. Why?

18.10.2017 - Syria: collective humanitarian efforts, not sanctions, are needed more than ever (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

The situation in Syria is undergoing serious transformation. Due to the de-escalation process, it has now become possible to drastically reduce the level of violence, to improve the humanitarian situation as well as to fight terrorists more efficiently. The ISIS-controlled territory is shrinking. On 14-15 September, at the international meeting in Astana all four de-escalation zones were finalized.

05.10.2017 - What You Have to Know about Status of Crimea (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

The coup d’état in Kiev in February 2014 backed by the West tore up the constitutional space in Ukraine. The legitimate President of the country was overthrown. It was marked by a severe lack of democracy and violence that posed a direct threat to the well-being of Russian-speaking population of Crimea. Citizens of Crimea faced the choice of becoming an oppressed minority or severing their ties with the hostile regime to secure a future for themselves and their children. The decision to hold a referendum was made by legitimate local authorities. The independence of Crimea was proclaimed and an appeal to enter the Russian Federation was made based on the indisputable results of the popular vote. Standards of international law were fully observed as the right of nations to self-determination enshrined in the UN Charter was exercised freely by the Crimeans. Crimea was recognized as an independent and sovereign state by Russia and on 18 March 2014 in Moscow the two countries signed a Treaty of Unification, under which the Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol became two new regions - subjects of the Russian Federation.

05.10.2017 - NATO increased military presence in Europe: road to nowhere (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

As part of the implementation of the conclusions of the NATO Summit in Warsaw, four multinational battlegroups have been deployed in Poland, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia with the total number of troops exceeding 4500. The idea of creating similar rotating units in Bulgaria and Romania in 2018 is being widely discussed by NATO members. If put together, these battlegroups amount to a motorized infantry brigade with heavy weapons.

30.09.2017 - Russia’s initiative on protecting SMM OSCE in South-East of Ukraine (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

On 5th September, at the 9th BRICS Summit in Xiamen President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin has announced an initiative to establish the United Nations Mission on Support in Protecting the Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) OSCE in the South-East of Ukraine.

25.09.2017 - Eurasian Economic Union today (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

Though hardly noticeable in the Western media, the Eurasian economic cooperation is booming, with the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) becoming an increasingly effective integration project. The unique format of enhanced economic coordination along with the EAEU member states’ retained political sovereignty and cultural identity is proving itself.

25.09.2017 - On Russia's assistance to Central Asia (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

Russia attaches great importance to the issue of sustainable development as it is underlined by the UN. Among our priorities in this area is the development of Central Asia. We contribute to the development of this region on a regular basis, regardless of the global economic crisis and its negative effect on Russia’s economy. In today’s world, international aid is often politically motivated and aimed at exerting one’s influence. Russia has a different approach.

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