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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

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
The Soviet Union’s sunset years hardly felt like an innocent age to those who lived through them, but to recall the hopes and aspirations of that era is to rue the naiveties of those days. “A common European house” was how President Mikhail Gorbachev pictured the continent’s future; “a Europe whole and free”, in the words of George HW Bush, his American counterpart. But, as the tussle over Ukraine has shown, Russia and the west are rivals once again. The ceasefire signed on September 5 gives both sides a chance to overcome their own illusions. They should take it, lest the conflict become a direct military confrontation.
Western leaders seem to believe their own propaganda. A failed Ukraine, they suggest, could be cradled into western Europe and become democratic and prosperous – and maybe it could, if they waited 20 years and could count on energetic support from Russia. But Moscow, they are convinced, is hell-bent on grabbing land, a hunger from which it can be distracted only through the infliction of pain. Hence the sanctions, the war of disinformation and the reinvigoration of Nato as a military force.
It is a strategy that rests on misunderstanding and miscalculation. The misunderstanding is that this is, at root, a stand-off over Ukraine. To Russians, it is something far more important: a struggle to stop others expanding their sphere of control into territories they believe are vital to Russia’s survival.
It is a miscalculation because Russia is far stronger, and the west far weaker, than many imagine. The west that Russia now faces is not the self-confident alliance that proclaimed itself victor of the cold war. It is a directionless gaggle, beset with economic insecurities and losing sight of its moral convictions. America and its allies once held the future in their hands, but at the beginning of this Asian century they have let it slip through their fingers. Their crowning accomplishment was globalisation – and they are destroying it, with economic sanctions they incoherently describe as instruments of self-defence.
These sanctions will hurt ordinary Russians, but they are helping to rouse our country from its slumber. True, Russia is smaller than the Soviet Union was, and a romantic belief in the free market has led it to take some wrong turns. The country’s elite, enjoying the consumerist pleasures afforded by new wealth, had long been at rest. But President Vladimir Putin has studied the lessons of history and harbours no illusions about the west. Russian citizens, unlike the disillusioned Soviets who were never far from hunger, know what they are ready to struggle for. Our country is finding its place. Compare the Soviet armed forces, lumbering and expensive, with the nimble military of modern Russia.

A small minority of my compatriots oppose Moscow’s hard line. Twenty years ago it was the reverse: a minority opposed rapprochement with the west. But that was before the west rediscovered the politics of Versailles and decided Russia had to be stopped at all costs. With encouragement, these foreign powers imagined, the new bourgeoisie would revolt against Mr Putin. Instead, they are rallying around him.
State propaganda plays a role, but Russians have access to western media via the internet and the more of it they see the more they unite around the Kremlin. This is no time for denial: westerners need to understand how their governments made a potential foe out of what was once an aspiring ally. Russia will not yield. This has become a matter of our nation’s life and death.
A lasting peace in Europe is a noble aim. It can be achieved only through mutual respect and an accommodation of legitimate interests. Even for a europhile such as me, it will be hard to argue for political union with a Europe that is abandoning, one hopes temporarily, Christianity and traditional norms. But our goal must be to create a common space in which people, capital and energy can move freely between Europe, with its old ties to the US, and a Russia that is embracing Asia.
Meanwhile, we must avoid visiting the horrors of war on the people of Ukraine. If we fail to do that, we will have abandoned another European value: reason.
//Originally published in Financial times 14 September 2014.




LATEST EVENTS

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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.


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.


29.05.2014 - HARDtalk: Professor Sergey Karaganov

Stephen Sackur asks one of President Putin's influential former advisors about the next stage of Russia's apparent neo-imperialist foreign policy after developments in Crimea.



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