Modest Kolerov: Russia’S Foreign Policy Strategy Outlines New Highli

Modest Kolerov: Russia’s Foreign Policy Strategy outlines new highlights regarding former USSR republics

July 21 2008

Russia’s foreign policy strategy approved by President Dmitry Medvedev
contains a few of new public highlights regarding Russia’s policy in
the post-Soviet territory.

Firstly, it is announced clearly and unambiguously that the creeping
"historic" rehabilitation of Nazism and aggressive nationalism in the
post-Soviet territory has nothing to do with interests of science,
but is rather a part of a deliberate policy of the West aimed at
"Russia’s containment": "The response to the prospect of the West
losing its monopoly for globalization processes is taking shape in
particular in the inertia of the political and psychological aim at
"containment of Russia," including attempts to use for this purpose a
selective approach to history, first of all to the history of World
War Two and the post-war period. (…) It is necessary to provide
conditions for researchers to conduct professional work aimed at
establishing the historical truth, to prevent from making a historical
issue into a tool of practical politics, (…) to show firm resistance
to manifestations of neo-fascism, any forms of racial discrimination,
aggressive nationalism, anti-Semitism and xenophobia, attempts to
revise history and use it for purposes of exacerbating the tension and
revanchism in global politics, revise the outcomes of World War Two."

Secondly, it is noteworthy that the relations with the Baltic and
"new European" countries are not fully limited by the frameworks of
the relations with the European Union. Noting the bilateral relations
with Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Finland, and other "old European"
countries parallel to the EU, the strategy also addresses directly
to Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, but (apart from the detailed
rejection of rehabilitation of Nazism mentioned above) claims that
they only observe the rights of the Russian-speaking population and
Kaliningrad Region.

Thirdly, the strategy finally transforms the philosophy of the CIS
as a non-political organization, as a "forum for a political dialog"
only, and, which is most important, "a mechanism of cooperation with
priorities in economy, humanitarian interaction and so on." The
strategy brings the relations with CIS member-countries to market
foundations: "Russia regards the trade and economic relations with
the CIS member-states, … while observing the market principles as
a significant pre-condition for development of truly equal relations
…" At the same time, Russia, now as a concept, treats the CIS as a
kind of a niche for new, selective integration with those "showing
their readiness for strategic partnership and allied relations,"
namely with Belarus and Kazakhstan within frameworks of the EurAsEC
and other states in the CSTO.

Here a special attention should be drawn to the fact the tasks
of establishing the Union State with Belarus are being switched
to the market basis, although they sound with less confidence: "to
continue a coordinated policy towards forming conditions for effective
establishment of the Union State"- "through a gradual transition of the
relations between Russia and Belarus to the market principles in the
process of forming a shared economic zone." Meanwhile, the prospect
remains unclear of such repeatedly declared goal of the EurAsEC as
"a means of promoting major water and energy and infrastructure
projects." While there are no questions regarding infrastructure
projects in the context of Russia’s active energy policy in Eurasia,
there are rather more questions as far as "water engineering" projects
is concerned, which is a complex of problems around the energy balance
and water consumption between Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and
Kyrgyzstan, and, which is most important, about commercial sense of
Russia’s participation in them.

Another thing is important too: regarding the CSTO, the strategy
focuses upon integration function of the organization, and, which is
most important, its priority in Eurasia facing the NATO expansion,
the task of "the CSTO turning into the core institution of providing
security" in the region. Concern over such way of restoring the CSTO
authority is directly stipulated by an extremely unambiguous formula:
"Russia remains negative about the NATO extension, particularly about
the plans to grant membership to the alliance to Ukraine and Georgia,
as well as about moving NATO military facilities to Russian borders in
general" (although, there is no response to the evident contradiction
between NATO membership prospects of Georgia and Azerbaijan – and
membership of Armenia to the CSTO).

Russia’s attitude towards unmentioned GUAM and other Baltic-Black-Sea
schemes in the territory of the former USSR is also clear: these
"sub-regional organizations and other institutions without Russia’s
participation in the CIS territory" will be treated in Moscow not
by their declarations, but by "their real contribution to providing
good neighborhood and stability, their readiness to take into account
Russia’s interests and respect mechanisms of cooperation that already
exist, such as the CIS, the CSTO, the EurAsEC, as well as the Shanghai
Cooperation Organization (SCO)." Taking into account that not only
the practices, but the off-scaling rhetoric of those GUAMs are tersely
anti-Russian and that they were established with a single purpose of
leaving less traces of the CIS and the SCO on Earth, it is easy to
predict there will be no love and respect for them in Moscow either.

A wish meant in the strategy looks like a true condemnation in this
connection: "This will be the way Russia’s approaches to cooperation
in the Black-Sea and the Caspian region will be built on the basis of
preserving individuality of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC)
and strengthening the mechanism of Caspian states’ cooperation." To cut
it short, the more they are involved in a kind of "non-individual,"
same-type struggle for "values" of transit and anti-Russian
"alternative routes," the less they will be listened to in Moscow.

Fourthly, threats for Russia coming from the former USSR, namely
from its south, are more than clearly specified in the strategy:
"Priority tasks are to combat terror threat and drug trafficking threat
from the territory of Afghanistan, to prevent from destabilization
of the situation in Central Asia and Transcaucasus." It is worth
mentioning, REGNUM wrote about it in a recent report "Prospects of
war in Transcaucasia and Central Asia". The strategy resorts twice
to establishing the source of the threat: "The deepening crisis in
Afghanistan bears a threat to security of CIS southern borders. Russia
in cooperation with other interested parties, the United Nations,
the CSTO, the SCO and other multilateral institutions will make
subsistent effort in order to prevent from export of terrorism and
drugs from Afghanistan…"

Fifthly, in my opinion, the strategy is not very substantiated in
terms of positioning "the multimillion-people Russian Diaspora, the
Russian world, as a partner" of Russia’s foreign policy, "particularly,
in extending and strengthening the space of the Russian language and
culture." The matter is that despite the success of the "Russian
world" concept, there is no separate and consolidated Russian
diaspora, especially with those Russian organizations that pretend
to be representing interests of diaspora’s interests, there are no
special opportunities, different from powers of a national government,
for humanitarian and even more economic and political outcomes. The
most effective in this case not the mythical (and risky) Russia’s
diasporal policy, but Russia itself with whom it will be profitable
to cooperate both to those feeling too narrow within frameworks of an
"ethnographic diaspora" and those who do not consider themselves to
be a part of the "Russian world," but rather prefer to be an admirer
of Dostoyevsky, Stravinsky, Korolyov, Putin and Russia’s multinational
capital. That is why not the support fro the "diaspora" but of all and
any compatriots in the CIS regarding protection of their "education,
language, social, labor, humanitarian and other rights and freedoms"
looks more realistic and important in the strategy. Here, as diplomats
say, there is a "potential" meaning a burden of unsettled issues,
which is almost unbearable, but still concerns millions instead of
single "professional Russians" who nothing behind them apart from
their career.

Finally, the fact needs attention that Russia’s leadership is
adequate in assessing attempts of political dictate from the West in
economic relations, which is more and more often is directed towards
defending the "economic egoism" of the transiting neighbors and global
consumers of Russian energy resources that contradicts market economy
principles. From now on, Russia will not only succumb to those willing
to dictate politically one-sided rules of the game to it, but is fully
ready to provide for its political sovereignty by economic measures,
"in accordance with the international law using all economic levers
and resources at hand as well as competitive advantages to protect
its national interests."

To cut it short, as for the post-Soviet territory, the Russian Foreign
Policy Strategy, taking into account the needed compromise nature and
natural inertia of preparation of such documents, as a rule, gives
quite clear responses to current events around Russia. Conflict
potential of the events is too far from being exhausted and the
conflict logic will increase, but Russia is quite able to provide
its response to the Western theory of "Russia’s containment", which
is still a test for the Euro-Atlantic loyalty to young post-Soviet
leaders, by its (Russia’s) own national practice of "self-restrained