Discussion with Professor Oleg Ivanov (Professor of the Diplomatic Academy of the Russian MFA) about Russia-U.S.-NATO relations in EuroAtlantic Security held at Moscow, Russian Federation, provided by the Diplomatic Academy at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russian Federation.
English language allows for narrow constructions. It provides clear interpretation in diplomacy and has become the official language of diplomacy. International law deals with such problems as one state encroaching upon the interests of other states. Moreover, international law is a tool for nations to bring about changes.
The Russian Federation and European Union have to establish common ground. There is a growing role for power, of the hard and soft kinds. We can see that hard power is indispensable when it comes to defeating Daesh, and also for the relationship between Russia and NATO.
We have many new institutions whose roles are growing, such as SCO, EUAU and BRICS. These institutions are giving us alternative settlements in countries which cannot find common solutions within the United Nations or International Monetary Fund – we are talking here about alternatives, not about replacing.
The Western perception of Russia is that the USA won the Cold War. The Cold War was ended by agreement between both bipolar powers. Subsequent to the Cold War, the Russian Federation has been gaining in strength. The West is seeking to establish a foothold in Euro-Asian space, while Russia is focused on economic union. After the Cold War, the major conflicts involving Russia were the Kosovo War of 1999, Georgia in 2008 and the ongoing conflict over Ukraine.
In the wake of these events, NATO reverted back to its concern with the containment of Russia; at the same time, the United States of America operates a policy of deterrence towards Russia.
There are guiding principles for EU legislation. We have to look critically at them, if there is any common ground to be found.
- The full implementation of the Minsk agreement as a key element for any substantial change in our relations. However, we have to observe that the Russian Federation is not on the list. Ukraine has to change their constitution, but can Russia change hers? The answer is no; we can see that this Minsk agreement cannot fully work.
- Straightening the neighborhood from the European view. We cannot ever have a state in favour of both the EU and Russia at the same time, as we see regarding what happened in Ukraine. It is not possible.
- The need for selective engagement with the Russian Federation on foreign policy issues, when it comes to Iran or the Middle East Peace Processes, or counter-terrorism. However, Russia has not been given a green light for involvement in these questions/challenges.
I chose these three basic points to illustrate that the relationship is not working effectively. We have to use détente, as we have in history. We have to look at what common ground there is and what may bring us together. We have to cease mutual demonisation and move away from Cold War actions to seek out a new cooperation.
Western thinkings in foreign affairs may revert to old thinking, but should not persist with the current thinking as we see now with regard to Ukraine. A pragmatic approach is needed, without imposing values on each other. We also have to follow a path of harmonisation rather than unification. Harmonisation works in Asia and, through multilateralism, it is the only way; we must accept that we cannot export our Western European values to all parts of the World.
The Russian Federation is the only country which has held strategic nuclear geopolitical measures with the United States of America. After the Cold War, who filled the bilateral gap? The answer is the USA. Now we see that this unipolar system is not safe as having a multipolar system. We can see this in the financial crisis of 2008. Furthermore, with growing globalisation with the USA as its engine, many states, including Russia, are not on the inside, but are involved. There is also a declining international relations system in governance, as we see from the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, …
By time, there is rising new centre of power, mainly US-RU relations are important to deal not only in financial market but also in conflicts. We have to have group on fighting terrorism as in Daesh in Afghanistan. Moreover, we have global partnership WMD Proliferation where are 163 countries because we do not want to spread nuclear weapons to terrorist hands. In additional, terrorism does not recognise any borders.
The Russian Federation keeps a close eye on Afghanistan because this country is important for security in Russia. Russia is the successor of the Soviet Union, which lasted for 75 years, so Russia knows the peoples of the post-soviet satellites very well. Russia has a permanent member seat in the United Nations, is a G-20 member and is an active participant in regional conflict resolutions.
The United States and Russia have to achieve more, or at least try to achieve more, cooperation in the area of international security. Continuing entrenched division would be a grave mistake.
*Oleg Ivanov, „Russia-US-NATO in EuroAtlantic Security“ (presentation/lecture during the certificate at Diplomatic Academy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Moscow, Russian Federation, 08 August 2016).