“Russian bear must smile. To smile so that all his teeth are visible ”- this is one of the recipes for improving the quality of Russian diplomacy, generated at the annual assembly of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy this weekend.
Having watched the disputes of our most famous, promoted and influential experts on relations with the outside world for several hours, I came to an unexpected and pleasant conclusion: the “collective mind” of Russian foreign policy thought begins to gradually move away from the shock caused by our break with the West five years ago backwards “Emotional foam” of all sorts is still a lot. But next to it appear the first sober and well-thought-out recommendations on how we should live on – not in a world that you cannot return, but in a world that exists.
Getting up early is especially hard on weekends. Having succumbed to the temptation to “sleep a bit more,” I was late for the start of the gathering of foreign political luminaries, but still got to the boarding house near Moscow, where they gathered, right to the “mandatory item of the program” – a verbal fight between the “mourner” over our destroyed relations with The West and its ideological opponent. This year, the “stars” of this annual show were especially “ideologically charged” comrades. First, Yevgeny Savostyanov came to the “ring” – “the first wave democrat”, who had served as deputy head of the presidential administration of the Russian Federation under Yeltsin, and now works, among other things, in an organization with a down-to-earth hopeless name promoting Russian-American rapprochement.
In terms of entertainment, the value of such an exchange of verbal strikes was, of course, very high. But I forced myself to get up on Saturday morning, not to be entertained, but to hear something truly new and meaningful. And, fortunately, I heard him. Many people in Russia are concerned now that we have no allies. Therefore, I immediately started up when Dmitry Trenin, director of the Carnegie Moscow Center, said: “The fact that we do not have and will not have allies is not a tragedy.” According to Trenin, Russia must now rely on “situational alliances concluded for a specific period of time for the sake of achieving specific objectives.” As it is not difficult to notice, it is this strategy that brought Moscow very significant dividends in the Middle East. Our diplomacy in this region has achieved a lot thanks to the tactical coincidence of our interests with the interests of Iran and Turkey. I would like, of course, to have more permanent and reliable allies than Ankara or Tehran. But Wishlist in foreign, as, indeed, in domestic politics, unfortunately, do not work.
A very high-quality discussion took place on the SWAP regarding our relations with China. The rally participants frankly admitted: “Beijing has its own political agenda, which is wider and deeper than this country’s relations with Russia. The Chinese have a lot of ideas that create problems for us. ” How can Moscow protect its interests in such a situation? According to the forum participants, we need to “channel the ambitions of China into the channel where we have a valve.” In terms of practical politics, this means a “middle ground” policy: we must “not go to bed” under ambitious Chinese geopolitical projects like “One Belt – One Way”, but avoid frontal confrontation. Ideally, Russia should balance between the United States and China, while maintaining its maximum freedom of action. But alas
Our diplomacy has another equally serious constraint. As an expert who was previously unfamiliar to me, very aptly noted, Yevgeny Kuznetsov, a native of the nuclear industry, said: “Russia is not offering an image of the future now – only an image of the present.” Against the background of the fact that the United States, the European Union and China offer their images of the future, this puts us in a markedly disadvantageous position – a position from which it is absolutely impossible to get out at once. But it is necessary to get out of it – it remains only to understand how.