Alongside the development of bilateral relations, a new priority should be given to the multilateral interaction between states in the non-Western part of the world. There should be a greater focus on building international institutions. The Eurasian Economic Union, the Collective Security Treaty Organization, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the Russia-India-China grouping, BRICS, and the mechanisms for dialogue and partnership between the Russian Federation and ASEAN, Africa and Latin America need a boost for further development. Russia is capable of playing a leading role in developing a framework ideology for these organizations, harmonizing the interests of partner countries and coordinating on common agendas.
In relations with the West, the strategy of Russia will continue to address the containment of the nuclear, conventional and cyber abilities of the US, and deterring it from exerting military pressure on Russia and its allies, or even attacking them. Never since the end of the Soviet-American confrontation has the prevention of nuclear war been more relevant than now. The new challenge after achieving strategic success in Ukraine will be to force NATO countries to actually recognize Russian interests and to secure the new borders of Russia.
Moscow needs to assess carefully the reasonableness, possibilities and limits of situational cooperation with various political and social groups in the West, as well as with other temporary potential allies outside the bloc whose interests coincide in some respects with those of Russia. The task is not to inflict damage on the enemy anywhere, but to use various irritants to divert the opponent’s attention and resources from the Russian focus, as well as to influence the domestic political situation in the US and EU in a direction favorable to Moscow.
The most important objective in this regard is developing a strategy for an emerging confrontation between the United States and China. The partnership nature of Russian-Chinese relations is the main thing that positively distinguishes the current “hybrid war” against the West from the previous cold one. Although Beijing is not a formal military ally of Moscow, the strategic partnership between the two countries has been officially characterized as more than a formal alliance. Russia’s largest economic partner has not joined the anti-Russian sanctions, but Chinese companies and banks are deeply integrated into the global economy and are wary of US and EU sanctions, thus limiting the possibility of interaction. There is mutual understanding between the leaders of Russia and China, and the people of the two countries are friendly towards each other. Finally, the United States views both countries as its adversaries — China as its main competitor and Russia as the main current threat.
US policy brings Russia and China even closer. Under a “hybrid war,” political and diplomatic support from China, and even limited economic and technological cooperation with it, are very important for Russia. Moscow does not currently have the opportunity to force even closer rapprochement with Beijing, but there is no necessity in too close an alliance.
If US-Chinese contradictions aggravate, Russia should be ready to support Beijing politically, as well as provide on a limited scale and under certain conditions, military-technical assistance to it, while avoiding direct participation in the conflict with Washington. Opening a “second front” in Asia is unlikely to significantly ease the pressure of the West on Russia, but it will dramatically increase tension in relations between Russia and India.
The transition from a confrontational, but still conditionally peaceful, state of economic relations between Russia and the West to a situation of economic war requires Russia’s deep revision of its foreign economic policy. This policy can no longer be implemented primarily on the basis of economic or technological expediency.
Measures aimed at de-dollarizing and repatriating offshore finances are under implementation. Business elites (often incorrectly described as “oligarchs”) who previously took profits outside the country are forcibly “nationalized”. Import substitution is underway. The Russian economy is shifting focus from the policy of raw materials export to the development of closed-cycle production processes. So far, however, the country has mostly been defensive and reactive.
Now it is necessary to move from retaliatory steps to initiatives that will strengthen Russia’s position in the total economic war declared by the West, allowing it inflict significant damage on the enemy. In this regard, a closer alignment of efforts of the state and the business community’s activities is required, as well as implementation of a coordinated policy in such sectors as finance, energy, metallurgy, agriculture, modern technology (especially related to information and communications), transport, logistics, military exports and economic integration — both within the framework of the Eurasion Economic Union and the Union State of Russia and Belarus and taking into account the new realities in the Donbass and the northern Black Sea region.
A separate task is to revise the Russian approach and policy position on climate change issues under the changed conditions. It is also important to determine the permissible limits of Russia’s financial, economic and technological dependence on neutral countries (primarily China), and launch a technological partnership with India.
War is always the most severe and cruel test of durability, endurance and inner strength. Today, and for the foreseeable future, Russia is a country at war. It will be able to continue its trajectory only if the authorities and society unite on the basis of solidarity and mutual obligations, mobilize all available resources and at the same time expand opportunities for enterprising citizens, remove obvious obstacles that weaken the country from within, and develop a realistic strategy to deal with external adversaries.
Up to now, we have merely celebrated the Victory won by previous generations in 1945. The current challenge is whether we are able to save and develop the country. To do this, Russia’s strategy must overcome the circumstances surrounding and constraining it.
The article was prepared based of the author’s speech at the 30th Assembly of the Council for Foreign and Defense Policy and originally published in Russian on globalaffairs.ru.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.
paradox. All rights reserved.