Review of Russia’s new Foreign Policy Concept

Read Russia's new Foreign Policy Concept the other day. Given all the rumors in press how Putin has been personally revising MFA's December draft to make it more assertive vis-a-vis U.S., the section on U.S. is actually quite constructive. It is also the longest by far longest in spite of the assertion in the beginning that Asia is on rise and West in on decline. So, in Putin's view, U.S. continues to matter most to Russia in spite of all overtures to China. Also note that the concept calls for strategic partnership with India, but not with China.

See main points below with more comments  by me in Italics:

Key zinger: Russia will continue to play “the unique role – that has taken shape in the course of centuries – the role of a balancing factor in international affairs and in development of the global civilization.”

I. Russia’s foreign policy goals

  1. Ensuring national security and territorial integrity, strengthening of Russia’s role as one of the influential and competitive centers of the world
  2. Creating favorable external conditions for economic growth, its technological modernization and innovative development (Medvedev’s battle cry), improvement of living standards.
  3. Ensuring supremacy of international law and central role of UN
  4. Preventing new hotbeds of tensions in regions adjacent to Russia
  5. Promoting relations based on respect of independence and sovereignity, pragmatic and multi-vector approach.
  6. Promoting Russia’s economic interests abroad.
  7. Defending rights of Russian citizens and compatriots abroad.
  8. Promoting Russian cultural abroad.

II. Modern world and Russia’s foreign policy

  • “Deep shifts” accelerated by the global financial-economic crisis.
  • World increasingly unpredictable and polycentric.
  • Decline of the West and rise of Asia Pacific cause increase in global competition and instability.
  • Danger of nuclear war has diminished, but military balance is changing as new weapons lead to erosion of global security based on arms control.
  • No islands of security any longer.
  • Sustainable development and human capital increasingly important.
  • Increased competition for resources.
  • De-ideologization of international relations.
  • Attempts to bypass UN are a threat.
  • Transborder threats, such as proliferation of WMD and delivery systems, “taking the center stage.”
  • Organized crime acquiring a “macroeconomic dimension.”
  • Sort power becoming “inalienable part” of the foreign policy tool box.
  • “Russian foreign policy is open, predictable and pragmatic.”

III. Russia’s priorities in solving global problems

  • UN/UNSC should continue to play the lead role.
  • Promote supremacy of law in international relations.
  • Strengthen international security.
    • When doing so Russia
      • calls for internationalization of INF;
      • prioritizes implementation   of New START;
      • reaffirms commitment to NPT, CTBT, exports control, etc;
      • supports zones free of nuclear weapons;
      • “stands for strengthening of technical and physical nuclear security on the global scale, and, in particular for strengthening of international legal mechanisms of ensuring nuclear security and preventing of nuclear terrorism acts” ;
      • supports ban on weapons in space;
      • takes measures to ensure Russia’s cyber security, including use of  IT; to interfere in domestic affairs;
      • opposes revision of Article 52 of UN Charter;
      • promotes partnership with lead energy suppliers;
      • pays special attention to post-Soviet integration.
  • Promote humanitarian cooperation and human rights.
  • Ensure informational support for Russia’s foreign policy.
    • Facilitate “objective perception of Russia” through promotion of Russian media.

IV. Regional priorities

  • Relations within CIS are a priority
    • In this region Russia will
      • promote cooperation of CIS countries in tackling security challenges, including  terrorism, extremism, illicit flow with priority given to “neutralization of threats from territory of Afghanistan and prevention of destabilization in Central Asia and South Korea” ;
      • strengthen union with Belarus;
      • strengthen Eurasian Economic Union;
      • strengthen CSTO;
      • develop relations with Ukraine as “a priority partner in CIS”;
      • assist development of South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent nations;
      • moderate conflict resolution in Karabakh and Transdniestria;
  • Relations with countries of Euro-Atlantic region are also a priority – in this region Russia will
    • strive for invisibility of security, which should be codified as legally binding commitments of nations in the region “regardless of their membership in any military-political alliances;” (dig at NATO)
    • promote common economic and humanitarian space from Atlantic to Pacific;
    • focus OSCE on tackling trans-border threats (no repetition of direct criticism of OSCE for focusing on democracy too much) ;
    • promote partnership of equals with NATO in countering transborder threats, oppose its expansion;
    • promote “genuine partnership, interaction” with EU, including
      • partnership for the sake of modernization; (Medvedev’s idea);
      • promote bilateral ties with Germany, France, Italy and Netherlands; Reference to Medvedev’s proposal for a new European Security Treaty omitted, so the idea is dead.
    • Relations with U.S.:
      • “Russia builds its relations with the U.S., taking into account the considerable development potential of mutually beneficial trade and investment, scientific, technical and other cooperation as well as the special responsibility of both countries for global strategic stability and the state of international security in general.
      • It is a long-term priority of Russian policy to put the dialogue with the USA on a solid economic foundation, consolidate relations in all fields, build quality non-discriminatory trade and economic cooperation on a permanent basis, promote joint managing of differences on the basis of pragmatism and balance of interests, which will make the relations between the two countries more stable and predictable, strengthen bilateral cooperation on the basis of equality, non-interference in internal affairs and respect for mutual interests. Russia will work actively to counter the unilateral extraterritorial U.S. sanctions against Russian businesses and individuals (dig at Magnitsky bill), to promote initiatives for the further liberalization of the visa regime between the two countries.
      • Russia consistently supports the constructive cooperation with the U.S. in the field of arms control, taking into account the inseparable link between strategic offensive and defensive means, importance of multilateral nuclear disarmament. (Russia’s position is that)  negotiations on further reductions of strategic offensive weapons will only be possible if all factors that affect the global strategic stability are taken into account.Russia will consistently seek legal guarantees that the global U.S. missile defense system, which is being built, is not directed against the Russian nuclear deterrence forces. So no change from previous demand.
      • Russia expects the U.S. side to strictly guided by the norms of international law in its actions on the world, especially by the UN Charter and its principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other states.” More graphs devoted to relations with U.S. than any other country, which indicates that, in spite of highlighting decline of West and rise of China, Kremlin still focused on U.S. No references to reset.
    • In Arctic Russia prioritizes relations with members of ther Artic Council and the Arctic Five in defining economic zones, but open to cooperation with external players.
  • Asia-Pacific is of “increasing importance.”
    • participate in integration processes to develop Russia’s Far East.
    • promote improvement of the military-political stability in Asia.
    • promote role of SCO
    • “Russia will continue developing strategic partnership with India.”
    • Russia will continue to build a comprehensive trustful partnership and strategic cooperation with China. Russia regards the coincidence of the two countries’ basic approaches to key issues of world politics as one of the basic components of the regional and global stability.” (Note that Russia seeks strategic partnership with India, but not with China.”