13 December 2017
Moscow: 20:02
London: 17:02

Consular queries:  
+44 (0) 203 668 7474  
info@rusemb.org.uk  

 

DIFFERENT OPINIONS

The opinions expressed by the authors of the articles in this section are for discussion purposes only and may not coincide with the position of the Russian Government and the Embassy

16.04.2014

Russia without the West? (by Fyodor Lukyanov, Editor in chief of the journal Russia in Global Affairs, Chairman of Presidium of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy)

Historically important moments occur unexpectedly. Events that do not seem crucial by themselves can become turning points. The Ukrainian conflict which started as a result of Kiev’s refusal to sign the European Union Association Agreement ­– a technical 400-page legal document – nearly brought about the disintegration of the Ukrainian state while precipitating a grand international crisis.

 

Russia's changing historical landmarks

Russia is the story's key actor. Moscow has actually abandoned a behavioral model that has guided it for more than a quarter of a century Since the end of the 1980's. Since then, since the beginning of the dream era of Europe, indeed a world without borders, maintaining good relations with the west remained our priority. Even when Russia took steps that distinctively conflicted with Europe and the U.S. it left room for maneuver. Focusing political and economic contacts on the West was considered a guarantee of security, development and wellbeing by Russia.

In 2014 Moscow behaved differently. It ignored all appeals, requests, warnings and threats by the West and adopted Crimea and Sevastopol into the Russian Federation. Until the very last moment, until Vladimir Putin read out the extraordinary mes­sage to the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, many Western politicians, diplomats, commentators could not believe this would actually happen. Even after the Crimea referendum was announced the prevailing idea was that the head of the Rus­sian government was simply raising the stakes and planning to use the will of the Crimean people in a kind of geopolitical negotiation. It became accepted that Russia had never fully fol­lowed through in defending its interests. And when it finally happened, the response of the U.S. and Europe was to punish Russia regardless of the extent to which its will was reasoned and her position was argued.

The Big Seven vs. the Big Eight

Reactions among the G8 during this crisis are very symbolic. Considered the most powerful political forum in the world, what should the G8 do when a major political crisis arises? Right, it should convene, discuss solutions. It's the best possible place for that because since it was established 40 years ago (the G5 at that time), all members have an opportunity to speak frankly and openly. Moreover, Russia is presently G8 chair. This crisis is an opportunity to summon an extraordinary summit and sort things out in private. And, ideally, to come to some kind of agreement — it is always more convenient to do so in an in­formal setting.

But we see an opposite situation. The first (I emphasize — the very first!) reaction of the seven countries to aggravation of the situation in the Crimea and the position of Moscow was the re­fusal to attend the summit. They even refused to attend a meet­ing at the highest level in Sochi scheduled for the beginning of June. The Seven then made a series of threatening statements condemning Russia's actions. Those statements were followed by sanctions.

Let us leave aside the fact that the G8 chair is being threat­ened with sanctions similar to those applied to less trusted countries and leaders. To be more precise, let us leave it on the conscience of those guided by a standard set of cliches in inter­national politics. Another issue is more important. The habit of settling crisis situations through pressure instead of consul­tation cannot be ineradicable. It is a consequence of a post-cold war dynamic. When the USSR disappeared it ended balance in the world. The 'winner7 believed it could establish a new order not only through might but by right. But we can see from ex­perience that this is often counterproductive. Pressure and at­tempts by large countries to make everybody do what the "gran­dees" want lead only to a greater mess — not to order in any way. A total imbalance — of capabilities, interests, views — is a global modern defect. And it already starts impacting each of our steps.

A broad outlook on the world

There is more to the world than the West — it is probably the main lesson that Russia can learn from the current events. More­over, the world has become quite heterogeneous and diverse; therefore centralization and domination by a single party are simply impossible. There are many new influential players and each of them requires a specific approach, therefore making good relations with the west an indispensable priority is simply unrea­sonable. It is an important turn for Russia because its outlook was focused on the West for centuries.

What does it mean in practice? Six years ago three Berkeley University researchers published "World without the West" in the National Interest magazine. The authors stated that globali­zation and emergence of the new centers of economic growth are leading a world that is much more diversified than before. Countries with high development rates — such as China, India, Brazil, Russia and others — are establishing connections between them. And it is done not through confrontation but to avoid the

U.S. and Europe. A basic global perspective that frankly does not coincide with the West's emerging in what was known as the "third world;/. For example, concerning the issues of sovereignty or the idea that human rights are not always prevalent over the rights of society or state. It is not simply a defense of regimes that are not truly democratic from Western reproaches — it is a different political culture.

The scientists concluded that there were three response sce­narios for the U.S. in a "world without the West". The first is tough confrontation and attempts to force others to obey rules of the game prescribed by the West. The second one is the op­posite — considerable concessions to developing countries on commercial and economic issues in order to gain their sympa­thy. But they themselves recommend a "live and let live" model (in terms of the cold war — "peaceful coexistence").

It seems that modern America does not tend to follow such advice for now, though Barack Obama took some unsteady steps aimed at decreasing ideological tension in U.S. politics. They proved less than successful.

Russia, once a BRIC, has always been contrasted with other member countries in terms of its ideological "baggage". India, China, Brazil and South Africa are united by their anti-colonialist (in other words, mainly anti-Western) spirit. As we know, Rus­sia's attitude to the West is rather complicated as well — but it differs from the above-mentioned. For Russia the Old world is its cradle, the source of cultural and religious identity. We have common roots with Europe — yet it does not abolish the fact that we have a long history of conflicts and concurrence. But in this relation Russia is similar to other European states, most of which have fought against each other in the past, attempting to ensure the absolute destruction of the other.

Anyway, at the beginning of the 21 st century the Russian outlook was still focused on Europe and the West — in contrast to other B, I, C & S. Priority dialogue, on ideas and values, was with Western countries. Even the rejection of liberal trends and emphasis on Russia as a bearer and keeper of traditional values over the last two years was a game — a retort — to the Western ideological field. In other words, we could not imagine our "world without the West". And it was difficult for us to imagine that things could have changed. But the current events can lead to substantial shifts.

Unexpected results of the sanctions

The Crimean referendum and the peninsula's adoption by the Russian Federation provoked an emotional response in the West. Europe and the U.S. imposed sanctions against Russia. Firstly, political and symbolic measures were at the issue but Moscow re­fused to change its course. [May be it will be even more active in Ukraine therefore commercial and economic confrontation can­not be ruled out as well] The results can be quite unpredictable.

Discussions about Russia's turn to the East, to Asia, began long ago. Vladimir Putin recently referred to it as Russia's top 21 st century priority. If the West starts putting economic and political pressure on Russia, tries to impose restrictions in a cold war style (investments, technologies, financial markets, access to credit sources, contacts, closing markets etc.), then the "world without the West" becomes quite real for Moscow. It will force Russia to shift focus.

We should have no illusions — it would be a rather consider­able shock. First of all, we should honestly admit that Russia is not used to maintaining full-fledged bilateral relations with countries which until recently were considered the global politi­cal periphery, its objects rather than subjects. During the Soviet period we acted as patrons, struggling for impact on states of Asia, Africa, Latin America against the U.S. In the post-Soviet days we firstly ignored these countries and then started trying to restore relations we had lost. -

Secondly, the position of the U.S. in the developing countries is solid enough so they, undoubtedly, will be "advised" not to deal with Russia. It is difficult to prohibit it today because the situation has significantly changed compared to the one it was 25-30 years ago. Nevertheless, we should not underestimate potential Western impact.

Thirdly, China is considered a natural alternative in the cur­rent environment but we cannot ignore the other side of this coin. Relations between Russia and China are quite positive right now but Russia still yields to China in respect of economic issues and political ties are becoming more intense with time. Beijing is ready to support Moscow (though not officially) and provide financial and economic aid to it but the price of it will be fast growth or Russia's dependence on China. The interests of these two countries do not coincide completely but Russia will have to consider China's opinion while making decisions.

Shift to a real multipolarity

Russia must activate various relations with different countries besides the West in order to balance its new position. In recent years when Moscow's influence on the international scene began gradually to increase, many countries had a hope Russia would return as an independent player. This player doesn't have to op­pose America and Europe but at least can balance them.

Most of mankind is now tired of the lack of alternative. Rus­sia will not get official approval for its actions in Crimea and we can be sure that there will be no complete blockade in case of further aggravation of the situation with the West. Today the de­veloping countries are refusing to dance to somebody's tune and they are trying to use the conflicts between the "grandees" for the purpose of strengthening their own positions. It is interesting that the president of Argentina Cristina Kirchner supported the Crimean referendum and, of course, it compared the adoption of the peninsula by Russia with the intent of Buenos Aires to include the Falkland Islands into its jurisdiction. African coun­tries also treat the steps taken by Moscow with understanding.

Iran keeps aloof. It reckons upon fast development of rela­tions with Russia which were previously limited by the Kremlin's unwillingness to confront the West. The entire situation in the Near East is going to change if Russia starts opposing the policy of the U.S. and its allies to a larger extent than before. In general, now we have an opportunity to capitalize upon the reputation gained during the Syrian conflict. Many Arab countries have been sounding out on Russia's intent to act as America's opponent in this region but until recently they found no deliberate support. Now Russia's focus can be changed.

It is clear that the West remains the most powerful and in­fluential world player, it has a potential that no one can re­place — first of all, in science, technology and education. Be­sides, the cultural attractiveness of Europe for Russia and the whole world can hardly be overestimated. However, Russia has no intention of conflicting with or isolating itself from the west. The thing is that collaboration should not be on any terms and at any cost.

Russia is and will be a state of the European culture, at least as long as it is inhabited by Russians and other peoples living there for centuries. And it will not change even if the EU tries to pres­sure Russia. But in the 21st century world it is pointless to hope for success without ties to non-West countries. So we should only be grateful for sanctions. They will help that reorientation which has been brewing. But for the world, Russia's rejection of a narrow West-centric outlook would mean the emergence of full-scale multi-polarity, which no one can ignore.

 




LATEST EVENTS

24.04.2017 - FROM THE PIVOT TO THE EAST TO GREATER EURASIA (Sergei Karaganov)

The current round phase of Russia’s pivot to the East was conceived in the second half of the 2000s as a largely belated economic response to the rise of Asia, which opened up a plethora of opportunities for the development of the country and primarily its eastern regions. This rise offered a chance to turn the territory beyond the Urals and the Russian Far East from predominantly an imperial burden or rear in the confrontation with the West, and sometimes the forefront in the rivalry with Japan or China, into a springboard for the development of the whole country.


21.02.2017 - GLOBAL REVOLT AND GLOBAL ORDER THE REVOLUTIONARY SITUATION IN CONDITION OF THE WORLD AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT

Oleg Barabanov, Timofey Bordachev, Fyodor Lukyanov, Andrey Sushentsov, Dmitry Suslov, Ivan Timofeev, Moscow, February 2017


18.02.2017 - Global riot and global order. Revolutionary situation in the world and what to do about it - report by Valdai discussion club

(Report in Russian, English version to be published shortly) Спустя много лет после студенческих волнений, которые охватили практически весь мир в 1968 году, активист тогдашнего движения Даниэль Кон-Бендит так вспоминал суть происходившего: «Это было восстание поколения, родившегося после Второй мировой войны, против общества, которое военное поколение построило после 1945 года». Бунт проявлялся по-разному– в зависимости от места действия. В Варшаве и Праге люди протестовали против коммунистического режима, в Париже и Франкфурте клеймил и буржуазно-консервативное засилье, в Сан-Франциско и Нью-Йорке возмущались милитаризмом и неравноправием, а в Исламабаде и Стамбуле отвергали власть военных. Всех объединяло нежелание житьпо-старому.«Мы были первым медиапоколением. СМИ играли большую роль, потому что они передавали искру жгучего неприятия, и она воспламеняла одну страну за другой», – вспоминал Кон-Бендит.


03.02.2017 - Sergei Karaganov, Dean of the School of International Economics and Foreign Affairs of the National Research University Higher School of Economics, Honorary Chairman of the Presidium of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy, "A view from Moscow"

The victory of Donald Trump reinforced international tendencies, which had been obvious for Russians and which had been guiding Russian behavior for last few years. Among them – deglobalization led by forces, which previously created it, but started to retreat from it, when they saw that it benefits others equally or more. The change in correlation of forces against the old world and towards Asia will continue, though at somewhat slower pace than in previous decades. China will continue to become in the very foreseeable future an equal to the U.S. in cumulative power. Europe of the EU will continue to muddle down. (Hopefully, not towards a collapse, but something leaner, more stable and healthier like a Common market, Schengen minus, two Eurozones or a Eurozone minus). The rivalry between the U.S. and China will continue to exacerbate. The confrontation between Russia and the West will continue, but will gradually dampen.


20.08.2015 - The Interview: Henry Kissinger

The National Interest’s editor, Jacob Heilbrunn, spoke with Henry Kissinger in early July in New York.


10.08.2015 - "Shame on UK for Sham Litvinenko Trial", by William Dunkerley for "Eurasia review"

What started off as a massive fabrication in 2006 just received a great boost from a complicit British government. The mysterious polonium death of reputed former KGB spy Alexander Litvinenko is the focus. An inexplicably long series of official UK hearings on this nearly 9 year old case has just concluded. That’s prompted a new flurry of sensational media reports.


02.06.2015 - Eurasian Way Out of the European Crisis (Article by Sergei Karaganov, to be published in late June in "Russian in Global Affairs")

I have already written before that having emerged victorious from the Cold War, Europe lost the post-war peace. The continent is on the verge of strategic degradation that may either become a caricature of military-political division into opposing blocs or a time of disquieting uncertainty. The military-political conflict over Ukraine can escalate as well.


13.03.2015 - NEW RULES OR NO RULES? XI Annual Valdai Discussion Club Meeting Participants' Report

In Search of an Order For those who believe in the magic of numbers, the year 2014 was further proof in its existence. The World War I centenary had been anticipated in awe and History, by taking another dramatic twist, confirmed the worst of expectations. It pronounced that centuries-old conflicts are still with us and that such concepts as the balance of powers, borders, and sovereignty are still relevant even in the era of a global interdependence.


15.09.2014 - Western delusions triggered this conflict and Russians will not yield (by Professor Sergey Karaganov for FT)

The west is without direction and losing sight of moral convictions, writes Sergey Karaganov


29.05.2014 - It’s not just about gas: why China needs Russia (by Fyodor Lukyanov, Editor in chief of the journal Russia in Global Affairs, Chairman of Presidium of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy)

In a pre-election article published a little over two years ago, Vladimir Putin wrote that Russia wanted to harness the Chinese wind for its sails of development. Every sailor knows that in stormy weather, and the world is a stormy place today, controlling a sailing ship is incredibly difficult. But by working skilfully there is a chance of inching one's goal much faster.



all messages