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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


The World we live in

By Evgeny Primakov

It is extremely complex. Economic turbulence, terrorism, threat of WMD proliferation, protests against authoritarian regimes, often resulting in disturbances and chaos, NATO’s use of force in an attempt to impose orders of West’s liking on this or that country, long-simmering regional conflicts ready to burst in fire – all of this is the contemporary world. Interweaving economies of various countries, integration processes and global scientific and technical progress – all of this is the contemporary world too. I’d rather not dwell on describing well-known events but turn to lessons we, as a state, should draw from them.

Firstly, the hardships and complications of the global crisis resolution are obvious but the exit is by no means sealed. The talks of a hovering recession in the centre of the global economy – the US – are groundless. According to estimates of the Institute of World Economy and International Relations, which have proved to be reliable, the USA GDP growth rate in 2011 exceeded 2.2% and is projected to grow in 2012. The conclusions about a dramatic weakening of the dollar, which is about to give up its mission of a global means of payment, are unrealistic as well. Against this background, the call to make the ruble a reserve currency and turn Moscow into an international financial centre sounds questionable, when Russia’s global economy share remains the same – 3.7% – and its contribution to the Global GDP increase has totalled 0.15%. The trend has it that regional reserve currencies are indeed emerging but there is still a long and difficult way to go. And apparently it will not begin in Russia.

We often talk about the unification of the BRIC. Sometimes this abbreviation gets extended. The BRIC countries are united by faster economy growth. However, Russia still lags behind: in 2010 China’s GDP grew by 10.3%, India’s – by 10.1%, Brazil’s – by 7.5%. These figures are much larger than Russia’s. In 2011, the trend generally persisted, despite the fact that Russia has increased its GDP.

Secondly, I will not make pessimistic forecasts about the European crisis. It is a serious matter because in some EU member countries not everyone feels happy about the fact that they are expected to bail out other states’ economies, some express this concern openly, some only imply. Meanwhile, recipient states are witnessing popular outrage against austerity measures initiated by Brussels in the social sector. There are signs that the crisis may be overcome through the development of supranational structures capable of controlling budget policies of the European Union members. Not everyone is ready for this, but unavoidable difficulties will not lead to disintegration of the EU or even of the euro zone – European integration has taken deep roots. What lessons are we to learn from the crisis of the European Union?

The establishment of the Customs Union among Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan was one our achievements in 2011. There has been paved a way to a common economic zone ensuring freedom of movement for capital, labour  and services within these three countries. Corresponding documents have been signed and there are good reasons to believe that they will be put into action. There has been developed the idea of a European Economic Union and now it is expected to start working in 2015.

The EU crisis lessons are to ensure that the integration do not become a short-lived success. Apparently, it is counterproductive to hasten the expansion of the trilateral Russian-Belarusian-Kazakh union serving as a base for a Eurasian Economic Union. It is also obvious that in fostering integration process in the post-Soviet space we will not be able to do without supranational structures, in favour of which the integrating countries will have to cede a share of their sovereignty. This is crucial for stepping up integration, otherwise it will get stuck at the initial stage. And one more, to my mind, important conclusion: multi-speed economic integration does not contradict the need for extensive military cooperation between the CIS countries and development of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). It is noteworthy that, with all the misfortunes of their economic integration, an overwhelming majority of European Union countries make part of one military alliance, i.e., NATO.

Thirdly, a local tectonic shift has taken place in the Middle East region. The “Arab spring” has resulted in displacement of Presidents of Tunisia and Egypt, as well as resignation of President of Yemen, who ruled for dozens of years, and shook other authoritarian regimes in the Arab world. The situation is still unfolding and time will show where that leads. But even now there emerge some specific features that go beyond their regional framework.

The influence of such achievements of the modern civilization like the Internet, mobile phones and television on political life manifested itself fully in the course of the “Arab spring”. They become practical instruments of organizing people unhappy with a particular regime. And another characteristic: even not original leaders of the forces demanding change, Islamist circles remain one of the major elements of the political field in Muslim countries. At the same time the gap between adherents of moderate Islam, who acknowledge secular state and radical Islamists is ever widening. Apparently, Russia is willing to maintain contacts with moderate Islamic forces, in accordance with her geopolitical as well as domestic interests. Taking into account the increasing proportion of Muslims around the world and their migration flows to various non-Muslim countries, this part of our policy must never be secondary.

The "Arab spring" started with a removal of a number of leaders whom the US and their European allies relied on. Response followed immediately. The United States together with their NATO allies decided to capitalize on the situation and overthrow Arab regimes they didn’t like. I strongly disagree with those political experts who put all events in every Arab country going through antiregime protests in a single category of the “Arab spring”. Marches in Syria and Libya very soon developed into a armed resistance to authorities, pushed from outside.

The scheme used by NATO to overthrow Gaddafi makes an especially dangerous precedent: an amorphous UN Security Council Resolution is adopted to legitimize armed intervention aimed at supporting one of the parties to a civil war that erupts in a sovereign country. I am convinced that the Libyan events will be seriously taken into account by those who develop Russia’s foreign policy. Our country has already taken the position against repetition of NATO’s Libyan operation in Syria. I do not think that Russia and China, who did not veto the Resolution on Libya, will allow themselves to be fooled twice by those who alleged that this Resolution would protect peaceful population from bombings of Gaddafi.

Fourthly, considering changes that have really taken place in the US policies under the Obama Administration, there are no grounds to assume that we have achieved a new era in the Russo-American relationship. Becoming President Barack Obama refused to follow the way paved by his predecessor Bush, Jr. Personal qualities of the new American leader had some impact indeed, but objective reality played an even greater role. The policy of American unipolar hegemony had hit a dead-end, their ties with allies weakened while the operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, costly and each time less compatible with the requirements of a sustainable economy, proved to be hopeless.  Obama’s deviation from the policies of his predecessor helped achieve an improvement in the Russo-American relationship. However, soon American policies showed some of its unfortunately traditional traits, which hinder this process. Moreover, the year of 2011 was not the best time for promoting this process, a pre-election year for both Russia and the US. Certainly, all of this does not speak in favour of forecasts of a new Cold War or, at best, a freeze of the relations, which mean so much for the entire world.
To prevent this pessimistic scenario not only Washington has to recognize Russia’s equality, but Russia also has to take certain active and consistent actions. 

Academician Yevgeny Primakov was Russian Prime Minister (1998-1999), Foreign Minister (1996-1998), Director of Foreign Intelligence Service (1991-1996)



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.


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.

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