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Russia and the Global Crisis. Edward Lucas on the Russian Threat and the New Cold War:

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Edward Lucas on the Russian Threat and the New Cold War:

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Senator Bill Bradley, “Russia: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow”. Speech at Princeton University, Dec. 2008 -

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  • Signs of global crisis Tomorrow”. Speech at Princeton University, Dec. 2008 -

  • The Great Recession

  • Climate change

  • Energy security

  • Food security

  • Water security

  • Political conflicts, viability of states

  • Wars

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Russia’s international rankings the world?

  • The world’s largest country

  • 1/3 or more of global natural resources

  • World’s 8th largest economy (In 2008, its GDP was over $2 trln., measured in PPP, compared to US GDP of $14.4 trln., India’s $5.3 trln. Japan’s $5 trln., China’s $4 trln., Germany’s $3.4 trln., UK’s $2.3 trln. and France’s $2.2 trln.[i])World’s 3d largest assets in gold and hard currency

  • A nuclear superpower

  • A space superpower

  • A permanent member of UN Security Council

  • A member of G8

  • A key international actor across Eurasia (involved in more international organizations and projects than any other state except US)

  • “The World in 2008”. Economist Intelligence Unit -

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  • Pierre Morelle, EU Special Rep to Central Asia: weak as she looks."

  • “I am struck by the contrast between our interdependence and the problems in our relations which remain unresolved. It is a contrast between practical cooperation and psychological confrontation. Ties between the two worlds are strengthening on a scale which was unthinkable in the past – and yet psychological tensions remain. Even though experience implies that it is better to learn together – and even if we experience disappointments, we will achieve a lot if we move forward working together.”

  • Март 2008 :: Пьер Морель.По одну сторону стола.


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Why this psychological confrontation? weak as she looks."

  • No one in 1999 expected that Russia would experience this turn of fortunes

  • And no one expected that the West would be confronting such a formidable array of challenges as today – from the economic crisis to Afghanistan to climate change – without ready solutions to deal with them

  • So, on the Western side, there is discomfort and unease about Russia’s resurgence

  • And a desire to find ways to delegitimize it (“Russia is not playing by the rules”)

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  • In Russia, there was weak as she looks." a recovery of self-confidence – until the end of 2008

  • And a a belief that while being a Western client was bad for Russia, putting Russia’s own interests first and driving hard bargains with the Westdoes bring results

  • But also: like winning huge in a lottery and scrambling to find ways to spend the money

  • Assertiveness mixed with insecurity, a fear that this moment is fleeting, that things may change for the worse very quickly

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  • Russia’s resurgence and Western troubles can be too easily pictured as a zero-sum game

  • But it is anything but a zero-sum game

  • Tremendous exaggeration of:

    • The degree of differences between interests

    • And of the ability to succeed without cooperation from the other side

  • Russia cannot, and does not plan to, thrive on Western troubles

  • Neither can the West hope to gain by undercutting Russia’s resurgence

  • Win-win is possible – but both sides do need new thinking

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Western concerns

  • Russia is authoritarian again

  • A revival of Russian imperialism

  • Russia is using energyresources as tools in the struggle for influence


  • Containment of Russia is necessary

  • NATO is a natural instrument for this

  • It may become a new Cold War

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Russian concerns

  • The West wants to undermine the current regime – that is, push Russia back into chaos

  • The West wants to prevent the rise of Russia’s influence

  • The West wants to control Russia – in particular, to grab Russia’s resources

  • The West is not playing fair

  • NATO continues to expand, despite Russian objections – or even because of Russian objections

    Conclusion: Russia needs to be strong and vigilant. Confrontation with the West is not desirable, but Russia must be prepared to defend its interests

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Both sets of concerns do reflect some realities

  • On both sides, there are forces which see the world through the prism of zero-sum games

  • And they feed on each other

  • And there are vested interests feeding this Manichean view

  • And there is the organizing power of simplistic, binary thinking – Us vs. Them

  • Ironically, both believe in American omnipotence

  • Perhaps, this is the cardinal flaw

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  • But, apart from the logic of zero-sum thinking, the accumulating weight of Western and Russian mutual interests is a fact of life –

  • And these interests stem from the fact that important changes have taken place, while thinking and policies on both sides have not caught up with these changes

  • The West is much less confident about the future

  • Russia is more confident about the future

  • But we are much better equipped today to develop new security concepts and new international policies through joint efforts - dialog, negotiations between Russia and the West, Russia and NATO

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  • So, let us discuss both sets of concerns to see where they are coming from – and what follows from them

  • 1. Russia is authoritarian again

  • Yes, 20 years after Gorby persuaded the Communist Party to hold competitive elections, democratic governance in Russia remains a thing of the future

  • Is it a matter of concern? Of course – BUT:

    • Has a communist system been restored?

    • Do Russians feel unfree?

    • What are the exact parametres of Russia’s new authoritarianism?

    • Why has the authoritarian regression taken place?

    • How far can it go?

    • What can be expected in the coming years?

    • What should the West do?

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  • 2. Revival of Russian imperialism are coming from – and what follows from them

  • What exactly is Russia doing?

  • Russia’s military power – traditionally, a key element of Russia’s power

  • Contrast w. USSR and the preceding Romanov Empire

  • Defence spending, 2006 (SIPRI)

  • $35 bln (1.7% of GDP, USSR – 25%)

    • Canada – 1.1% of GDP

    • US - $580 bln (16 times more than Russia, 4.4% of GDP)

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  • NATO – Russia military balance are coming from – and what follows from them

  • Total armed forces personnel 3:1

  • Military aircraft 10:1

  • Tanks 3:1

  • Artillery 2:1

  • Naval ships 2:1

  • Submarines 3:1

  • Aircraft carriers 19:1

  • How real is this picture?

  • Partly

  • And - Russia’s rebuilding its military

  • Questions about Russian military power

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  • How is Russia maintaining its influence in Eurasia? are coming from – and what follows from them

  • The post-Soviet space is characterized by a growing tendency of all states in the area to assert their national interests, as they are perceived by the ruling elites – and to form partnerships and associations with other states based on these perceptions.

  • The post-Soviet space remains largely open for wider international cooperation. The defining pattern of international politics in the area is not centralized control exercised from Moscow, but rather a set of complex multiplayer games in which Russia is only one of the players.

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But it seems that methods no matter by what means Russia would have tried to reassert its interests in the area, intensification of geopolitical competition was inevitable. In that competition, Russia’s main assets are security, economic and cultural ties with post-Soviet states.

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The Network Principle methods

  • The Russians are discovering that what works for Russia is networking

  • Not hegemony, not building imperial hierarchies

  • But networking

  • Based on pragmatic pursuit and matching of national interests

  • In the growing network of Russia’s ties with the world, the West is only one segment, even if the most important

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  • Business expansion is top priority for the Kremlin methods

  • Russian business is trying to expand into every market available

  • And the post-Soviet space is a natural market for it

  • Europe, North America? Complaints about obstacles being put in the way

  • Moscow has tried to limit freedom of operations for foreign multinational corporations inside Russia and in the post-Soviet space – with limited success

  • From time to time, Moscow tries to pressure some neighbouring countries – again, with minimal success

  • Withdrawing subsidies – a sign of failure of hegemony

  • On NATO expansion, Moscow did succeed in putting a stop, a defensive move

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  • Sphere of influence? methods

  • Are there integrative ties between Moscow and neighbours – old and new, ties based on mutual interests?

  • Does Moscow have a right to express concerns about events and especially government decisions in neighbouring countries – if these decisions may threaten Russia’s security?

    • Imagine Canada joining Shanghai Cooperation Organization and agreeing to let Russia build BMD radars and missiles on its territory

    • Imagine US reaction

    • Imagine Ottawa saying: We are a sovereign nation, you cannot dictate to us how we assure our security

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  • 3. Energy security methods

  • A bit of zero-sum game, supply-demand, market logic

  • Role of the Russian state – typical of energy markets today

  • Issue: not whether energy trade is “politicized” (because it always is) – but what specific policies are pursued

  • Boils down to the question of whether Russia is a mere gas station or a sovereign country where the national government must have a say in how its natural resources should be used

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1. The West is undermining stability in Russia methods

  • Oh, really?

  • Western support of Putin has been one of the major causes of his success – the West has helped the rise of Putin and shares responsibility for Putinism

  • Western critique of Russia’s retreat from democracy is fully justified – not just as a prudent policy, but also as maintenance of international legal regime re human rights

  • No real interference or pressure

  • And it’s not just the West, but Russian democrats, too

  • Russian leaders should admit that it has compromised a number of key norms of democratic governance, for whatever reason – and they should commit themselves to restoring these norms, because Russian democracy is needed by the Russians themselves

  • And don’t get paranoid – it’s no longer the Cold War

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2. The West wants to prevent the rise of Russia’s influence

  • Partly true, but is there such a united policy of the West?

  • No – not yet, at least

  • The overall attitude remains ambivalent

  • Different countries have different attitudes

  • Some are traditionally wary of Russia, others not

  • The EU-Russia cooperation has become deep and dynamic

  • There is both competition and cooperation

  • If EU is looking for ways to reduce its dependence on Russian energy supplies, it’s not an anti-Russian policy, it’s good business practice

  • We cannot abolish competition

  • But we can regulate it together to prevent it from threatening everyone’s security

  • And we should be able to expand our cooperation

  • Does the West need a strong Russia?

  • Of course!

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3. The West wants to grab Russia’s natural resources influence

Russia needs to sell

It is a matter of deals -

And of regimes

Current Western policy is, indeed, aimed at achieving maximum market freedom

And yes, the West would like to have unimpeded access to resources in Russia and elsewhere

So would China and India – every country that relies on imports of raw materials, energy, etc.

But is such unimpeded access a realistic goal?

Sovereign states will continue to assert their rights

Western policy is evolving, pragmatic

International energy security is a key interest for everyone – and appropriate regimes need to be created collectively

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4. NATO enlargement influence

Takes place based on shared interests

Provides security

Russia has opposed it from day one

NATO has heeded some of Russia’s concerns

But the enlargement has acquired an inertia which has generated unnecessary tensions

The Russia-Georgia war was a grim warning

And we can certainly start a new dialog about it

Let’s discuss our mutual concerns

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Russia-West influence

  • Is Russia needed to give “the West” coherence?

  • But will Western interests be served by treating Russia as a rogue state, containment of Russia?

  • The West is confronted with huge problems none of which would become more solvable

  • The global center of economic gravity is shifting from Atlantic to Pacific – and the West cannot do anything about it

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  • How should the West respond to this power shift? influence

  • Mobilizing the West against the Rest is lunacy

  • Russia won’t be drawn into an anti-Moslem alliance

  • It won’t be drawn into an anti-China alliance

  • And it won’t be drawn into an anti-Western alliance

  • Russia needs, for her own sake, peaceful, cooperative relationships around its perimeter

  • This makes Russia is a key element of any stable world order – the global balancer of interests

  • It is needed by the West, by Asia, by the Moslem world in that role

  • And it should be encouraged to play that role

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  • In the 1990s, highest level since the Cold Warthe West’s influence was growing both inside Russia and around it.

  • The result: growing opposition to Western pressures and interference

  • In the 2000s, Russia has been trying to become more independent

  • A tough, “realist” approach to IR

  • The world seen as an increasingly anarchic place, disorder is growing, every one has to guard their interests – but also redouble efforts at international cooperation

  • But at the same time, Russia has become more deeply integrated with the West than ever before

  • On both sides, the rise of concerns and frictions reflects the fact of that deepening of integration

  • A divorce is not an option

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  • The dominant trends in Russian foreign policy thinking highest level since the Cold War

    • No desire to confront the West

    • Recognition of Western concerns

    • Relations with the West are top priority

  • But also:

    • Primacy of national interests, emphasis on independence

    • Multivector foreign policy

  • Pragmatism

  • Emphasis on business

  • Readiness for dialog, for development of joint solutions to problems

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  • Western countries, including Canada, highest level since the Cold Wardo andwillinfluence the ongoing debates in Moscow one way or another –

  • By their own actions, or inactions

  • Both individually and collectively

  • A key factor in these debates – assessing the state of the world

  • How is it perceived by Russian policy-makers, interest groups, public opinion?

  • There is no aspect of world politics or the world economy which would not affect Russia in one way or another

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  • If the idea of containment of Russia gains ground, highest level since the Cold War it is unlikely to result in a more cooperative, more pro-Western Russia

  • Quite the contrary outcome can be expected

  • Anti-Western elites in Russia are strong and active

  • Let us not push Russia toward totalitarian mobilization

  • Antagonizing Russia won’t solve any of Western problems

  • It will only create new ones

  • The world cannot afford zero-sum games between the West and Russia -

    • Because the two sides are too well-armed, and their arsenals remain trained primarily on each other

  • And there is no good reason why Russia and the West should be in confrontation -

    • Because mutual interests between Russia and the West far outweigh any differences and considerations of competition

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  • New forms of cooperation between states are necessary highest level since the Cold War

  • Our capability for collective action is too limited

  • Neither Russia nor the West are interested in worsening the global disorder

  • Perhaps, we are coming to the real end of the Cold War

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Realistic terms of the possible deal highest level since the Cold War

  • Priority of cooperation over competition

  • Construction of a new world order

  • Mutual security arrangements

    • Which means taking each other’s interests and concerns into account

  • No hegemony

  • No ideological wars

  • Competition by the rules

  • Primacy of international law

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  • Huge agenda for joint actions highest level since the Cold War

    • Arms control and disarmament – prospects for NPT, START, SORT, INF, CFE?

    • Afghanistan

    • Global economic crisis

    • Energy policy

    • Climate change

    • The food crisis

    • The water crisis