The guiding principles of Russia’s foreign policy

Russia does not aspire to the status of a superpower – whether an energy superpower or any other kind. We are entirely satisfied with what we are: one of the world’s leading states. We don’t want others to obey us; we want them to listen to us and take our opinion into account.

A globalizing and increasingly interdependent world is opening up breathtaking opportunities for socio-economic progress and different cultures enriching each other. Yet we still have a fight ahead of us if we want that secure world to become a reality. Threats and challenges to the security and stable development of Russia (and the world as a whole) are growing. They include international terrorism, WMD proliferation, and regional crises. Layered over these is increasing rivalry for access to natural resources (especially energy resources), frequently veiled by slogans about “democratization” and “humanitarian intervention”; there is also tension in relations between civilizations, incited by terrorists and proponents of ideologized and militarized approaches to international affairs.

As confrontation between blocs recedes into the past, the field for confrontation is objectively reduced. At the same time, attempts to impose an exaggerated significance of the force factor on the world and aspirations to solve existing problems from a position of political expediency are giving many countries a sense of insecurity, promoting an arms race, and leading to an expansion of the scope for conflict in global politics.

The emergence of new economic growth centers is depriving the West of its monopoly on globalization processes and leading to a more equitable distribution of resources. The economic potential of these centers is being converted into political influence, thus reinforcing multipolarity. Multilateral diplomacy, in various forms – including parliamentary diplomacy and international cooperation via NGOs – is playing an increasing role as the most important method of regulating international relations at the global and regional levels. This kind of diplomacy may well be described as network diplomacy.

Unfortunately, some of our partners are still unable to understand that the world changed in fundamental ways with the end of the Cold War. Bipolar confrontation was a conflict within the framework of the same civilization, since although the opposing forces were different, they were both products of European liberal thinking. But now it’s a matter of different civilizations needing to reach agreement with each other, and rivalry at the inter-civilizational level. Consequently, the rules of the game in globalization and in world politics should be the subject of inter-civilizational consensus. This seems natural and understandable to us, if only due to Russia’s historical experience as a multi-ethnic and multi-confessional state. We would like to see all of our Western partners finally abandon any illusions that their dominance across all aspects of international affairs can last forever.

As Russia grows stronger – and, perhaps for the first time in its history, defends its national interests by using all of its competitive advantages – a competitive environment is gradually being re-established in international relations. The value orientations of development models are being drawn into the orbit of this rivalry. Those who had already written us off as an equal partner regard this as an assault on their transient privileged position in global politics. Thus, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the ultimate foreign policy objective of the US Administration is to perpetuate America’s sole leadership in world affairs – even though countering terrorism, along with other new challenges and threats, can only be achieved on the basis of broad multilateral cooperation.

An example of unfair competition and ideologized approaches to international relations can be found in the accusations made against Russia: human rights abuses, “imperialist aspirations” within the former Soviet Union, “energy blackmail,” and even selfishness. We are not pretending that we don’t care about this – but neither are we over-dramatizing it. We are responding without any hysteria. We hope that our partners will finally manage to escape from the political psychology precepts of containing Russia and maintaining total control over everything and everyone in global politics. We would like to see a different notion prevail: the idea of the international community as a living organism, self-sufficient and self-organizing, with no need for puppet-masters. What it does need is democracy – entailing well-reasoned debates and a search for consensus.

The number of participants in the search for solutions to global problems should be expanded. Everyone should realize that it is counter-productive to usurp regulation processes – whether in the Middle East, in Iraq, or in Kosovo. Some day, the United States is sure to find a place for itself in a multipolar world, in harmony and competition with other states – but clearly, this will take time. All of America’s friends – and we count ourselves among those friends – must help the United States make a “soft landing” in multipolar reality. I am convinced that this task would be facilitated by developing the Euro-Atlantic arena based on trilateral cooperation – between Russia, the European Union, and the United States – across a broad range of issues.

In relations with the United States, we find ourselves recalling the maxim that a time of trouble shows who your real friends are. How should America’s real friends behave in the current situation? There are two options. First: put a shoulder to the wheel and participate unconditionally in all of America’s ventures. Second: take a principled stand based on the true interests of partnership and the international community as a whole. In short, tell the truth. Not everyone will dare to take such a stand. This burden is for those who can bear it.

Russia does not aspire to the status of a superpower – whether an energy superpower or any other kind. We are entirely satisfied with what we are: one of the world’s leading states. We don’t want others to obey us; we want them to listen to us and take our opinion into account.

Russia doesn’t have any interests that are incompatible with the interests of the international community. We shall not allow ourselves to be drawn into a confrontaiton. We are prepared to work with others on creating a just and democratic world order that guarantees security and prosperity for all, not only for the elect.

We believe that progress in this direction would be facilitated by frank, subject-specific discussion about international affairs, assisting the international community to develop a common vision of the modern era. President Vladimir Putin’s speech in Munich on February 10 was an invitation to a discussion of this kind. It also confirmed Russia’s resolve to conduct an open and predictable foreign policy.

Our partners are completely aoviding the question of the need for what I would call “working on mistakes.” After all, we’re not starting from a clean slate now that the Cold War is over. The rubble which has accumulated in global and regional politics needs to be cleared away. This should be the priority for the entire international community at this stage.

In the world today, a state’s influence is increasingly defined in “soft power” categories. This is the ability to affect the behavior of other states through the fact that your state is attractive in terms of culture, civilization, the humanities and the sciences, foreign policy, and so on; it also means being willing and able to promote a positive, unifying agenda in international affairs. In these circumstances, there is an important factor in ensuring that our foreign policy, and Russia as a whole, can compete: including civil society in the foreign policy process and enhancing the role of parliamentary diplomacy.

We shall continue to be consistent in upholding our national interests, abiding by pragmatic and multilateral principles, and maintaining normal relations with all states without exception, on the basis of equal rights, reciprocal respect for interests, and mutual gain. This approach also entails continuing to move toward full-fledged integration into global politics and the global economy.

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