Vladimir Putin’s third term at the Kremlin brings Russia’s new geopolitical project, stated in his article, „Россия и меняющийся мир” („Russia and the changing world”). Moscow’s foreign policy depends largely on geopolitics and the Russian leaders must take this into account. Has this article scored the citizens’ vote in the presidential elections of March 4, 2012? We don’t yet know, but the fact remains that from now on the Russian electorate is not only political in nature, but also geopolitical. Geopolitical flexibility in the world has offered Russia a special place in the specialists’ geopolitical analysis – with a territory that is continental, compact extremely broad and very varied in terms of geographical and human structure, Russia can only take a defensive position: „Russia occupies the same central strategic position in the world like Germany does in Europe. It may give and receive attacks from all directions, except from the north”, says Halford Mackinder. The Kremlin’s geopolitical adventure may cost too much, and centrifugal forces within the country may be reactivated then. What answer will the old (re)elected president provide to the geopolitical challenges of the world? What will be Russia’s next steps towards completing the „Eurasia” project?
The U.S. and NATO are worrying us …
Due to its strategic position, the Russian Federation stands out as the main economic, political and military actor in the region. Thus, adopting an „isolationist position” in the international policy is unacceptable; at least that is what the Russian diplomacy currently believes. The author tells us that the most important stake is„respect for the states’ national sovereignty”. Criticism towards the U.S. and NATO is elaborated through this point of view. Russian officials will abandon the expectative attitude and will use all available leverage in the international community to undermine the U.S. military presence in the „close proximity” and NATO’s missions in areas of risk: „It is important that the UN and the Security Council effectively oppose dictates from certain countries and arbitration in the international arena.” In other words, Russia is committed with even more solid steps to the process of „coagulating the Empire,” says Russian geo-politician Aleksander Dughin, not only through recovering lost territories in the close proximity and resuming alliances with Eastern European countries, but also by including the Western continental states in an Eurasian block (primarily utilizing UN mechanisms to „crack from the inside” NATO’s Franco-German block, which is inclining towards escaping from under the U.S.).
Middle East à la russe
The „Arab spring” scenario left Russian leaders with a bitter taste, especially since a scenario such as this may be repeated at any time in Moscow: „The primitive scuffle with Gaddafi was a horrible scene.”
The Russian Foreign Ministry has received clear instructions to prevent the repeating of the same eventsin Syria and it’s sliding towards the Western block by means of a „foreign intervention”. Members of the UNSecurity Council, Russia and China have blocked two resolutions of their „Western partners” condemning therepression led by Bashar al-Assad’s regime, which allowed the loss of human lives reaching the figure of 8500,according to Syrian Observatory for human rights. Serghei Lavrov’s only plea was: “We protect international law.”, and this law must be defended at all costs in order to avoid creating a precedent for the West in the Near East.
Another „headache” for the Kremlin appeared immediately after the „Arab spring”, when Russian companies started to lose retail markets in this area, markets for which they had fought for decades. Restoring Russia’s old economic position in the Arab world is the new diplomatic mission undertaken by the Putinadministration. Since autumn 2008, when the Russian Federation saw the first signs of the financial and economic crisis, and up until now, the country’s economy declined significantly. However, thanks to the states’measures of economic intervention, it seems that the Russian economy has stabilized. Thus, old plans can berenewed: creation of the international center for fixing the price of oil, world gas cartel; make the ruble an international reserve currency, securing the great Russian capital etc.
The „Arab spring” showed the Russian Federation that the Internet and other mass media means (TV,social networks, mobile telephony, etc.) have become effective tools in shaping international public opinion.However, „concern” over these soft power tools occurs when they are used to promote „nationalist”, „separatist” or „extremist” movements, obviously when not contradicting the logic of the Russian Realpolitik. The Reporters without Borders Organization recently released the annual list of Internet Enemies, where Russia seemsunwilling to change their status towards keeping cyberspace „under observation”.
Frictions between the Russian Federation and the West on Iranian themes will also manifest in the future. Unlike Americans, Vladimir Putin does not consider Iran to be an international threat or a nuclear hazard.This move fits perfectly in the Eurasian pan-Arab project and Russian policy for the South towards the creationof a Moscow-Tehran axis, which would solve many problems: creating an anti-American alliance, gaining access to the warm seas, removing contradictions between Russian supporters and Iranian type Islam, stopping theIranian-Iraqi conflict. The vector will be constant, especially since the UN Security Council, the Russian Federation and China will oppose through vetoes the U.S. proposals to sanction Tehran. Due to Russian exportsof modern weapons and Iran’s major potential to become an exporter of natural gas in regions „occupied” byGazprom and Kaz Munai Gaz, Russia has engaged in supporting the recognition of Tehran’s right to develop its own nuclear program supervised by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Iran also has its own interests in the Caucasus. Muslims in Azerbaijan are Shiite and Iran houses over 15 million Azerbaijanis, whereAzeri Shiite clergy occupy unique positions in the country. Thus Iran, Armenia and the Russian Federationcoordinate their actions in competition with Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan (the block Atlantic). Meanwhile, through its economic pressures, Washington merely accelerates Iran’s leadership in the Islamic states’ blockopposing atlantism.
Regarding the afghan issue, Russia is interested in offering military assistance to the international mission in the region. Although the US announced its troops’ withdrawal from this country by 2014, the American bases located in central Asia give the Kremlin reasons for anxiety. „Combating drug trafficking” and„Russian intervention in international assistance missions” are the main vectors of pressure to the Eurasian south. The geopolitical trend shows that Russia will once again return in Afghanistan, this time as „an ally to the Afghan people”, thus also ensuring a foothold to the warm seas.