This world was not invented by Putin
Yavlinsky: Russia’s leadership led the country to a deadlock and hopes for Trump’s mercy
The 53rd edition of the Munich Security Conference opens on February 17. Although it will be the continuation of the G20 Foreign Ministers Meeting and could become a platform for contacts on a range of issues, it is not likely that we should seriously expect anything from the Munich Forum. It seems that this time those who gathered in Germany have neither understanding of what is going on nor readiness for practical solutions.
The swift resignation of Michael T. Flynn, the USA presidents’s national security adviser, shows that the new American administration, which is being closely followed by the whole world and Russia in particular, has no policy at the moment. Donald Trump himself does not know what he is going to do. Neither the objectives of the future policy nor the course of action ensue from the populist speeches of the U.S. president. Even if he has some perspective of the situation in the world, it can easily transform into the exactly opposite decisions under the influence of new factors such as the disclosure of his advisers’ connections with Russia. In fact, this is the way the stance of the White House on Crimea is being taken, and the Kremlin is already wondering for three days whether this is Trump’s opinion or his spokesperson’s…
A week before the Munich Conference in Russia they reflected on the conference where Putin had made a speech ten years ago. It was 2007, the time of big potential opportunities for Russia. Putin’s confrontational anti-American speech in Munich is an example of how opportunities can be wasted on illusions, attempts to lecture other countries and deliberate empty talks on the multi-polar world, on the energy superpower, on the financial safe havens an so on. And this took place instead of Russia’s active participation and help in solving global challenges.
Munich 2007 had not yet become the shift in foreign policy but had already marked the deadlock where Russia found itself as a result of the authoritarian domestic policy. However, one could discern the deadlock a year earlier when G8 Summit was held in St.Petersburg. On the face of it the summit seemed to be the top of Putin’s success, but it was already clear that the participants of the G8 are not able to solve the important issues concerning international security due to the deep difference in values and aims. It was already clear that Russia’s policy does not involve reforms and development, that its political system increasingly resembles an unavailing authoritarian system, and its economy remained to be oligarchic and resource dependent. The past ten years only aggravated the situation.
All these years Russia’s authorities were selfishly settling down in a deadlock without carrying out domestic reforms, creating a modern state, diversifying the economy, and separating business from power. At the same time, the growing economic and political problems at the intersection of decades led to a crisis of trust in 2011-2012 when the government responded to it with a crack-down on the civil society and forming of an anti-European course. It was this course which led to isolation, war, and a visible perspective of a collapse.
No, of course, this course by no means predicted the global development. Although its stylistic components fell into the global landscape which shaped after the British Brexit and the election of Trump, it is just a coincidence. Russia does not give a lead in this world since, unfortunately, it finds itself on the periphery. Today Trump is the leader according to the number of mentions in Russian media. Russian leadership is expecting a call from Trump. Russian experts and political strategists divine the essence of every Trump’s step like a higher calling. And the main task of Russian Foreign Affairs Minister Sergei Lavrov at the forthcoming Munich Conference is to try to arrange a meeting between Putin and Trump.
As for the global challenges and threats, which the whole world has to fight, they did not alter much within ten years. They are the absence of a clear strategy of development and international terrorism as well as the uncertainty which will push politicians to make easy, belligerent, and radical decisions resulting from the “otherwise we may never get a chance” logic. As a result, any hot spot or a potentially hot spot – the Middle East, Afghanistan, Iran, Korea, India and Pakistan, the Caucasus, Ukraine or even China – may grow into a big war, literally a world conflagration.
However, “nationalist” politicians, “isolation” politicians and “carriers of cheep populism” politicians, those who are trying to get dividends from the fear and confusion of ordinary citizens today, will not only improve nothing but will sharply intensify the situation in the world enough as it is. The ability to manipulate the opinion of a large number of people is an accidental political wealth, and, actually, they do not know how to handle it. The whole world will have to pay the windfall tax, a tax on profits that ensue from a sudden windfall gain. Probably Russia will be one of the first. We are too week to fish alone in the troubled waters of the total chaos. It is an extremely unfavorable situation for us taking into consideration the balance of our real potential, geographic location and resources, the situation with economy and demography.
The whole Russia’s policy of the past ten years is a dangerous nonsense. It targets phantom goals. There will be no “Eurasian vector”, no notorious multipolarity, no “new Yalta” and no division of the world into the “spheres of influence”. Globalization took place, it is a fact, and the relations between leaders of the global world will be very different from what we used to see in the 20th century. We do not need to wait for what Trump is about in order to define our place in the world, to form the agenda in our country. And we must not build relationship with the U.S. president via some clandestine channels – via foreign’s advisers or our hackers, that is for sure. We must not try to get into global politics through a keyhole. It will only make things worse.
Our country needs a serious foreign policy which will reflect the interests of Russia in the right combination with world realia and the historical process. But there is no one to develop such a policy, no one to carry it out in our country. Putin is busy with other things: we have a war with Ukraine and the largest part of the Arab world, quarrel with Belarus, bomb the Turks by accident… The current Russia’s leadership led the country to a deadlock and hopes for Trump’s mercy. It is time to give up the peripheral foreign policy fuss and take up real policy in Russia which will give us the ability to define our future in the complicated and dangerous world not on paper but in real life.