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The world and friendship according to Russia

Russian Federation seeks for a polycentric world, where not only USA has the exclusive right to advance its interests… Russia just wants to have a minimal influence on intergovernmental integration processes of its neighbor countries, if these processes can impact its economy and/or safety… Russians ask to respect their concerns regarding NATO expansion closer to the Russian borders… These can be heard from Russian officials in context of the Ukrainian crisis. One can conclude, that all these actually make sense. Therefore, at least some European politicians have doubts regarding correctness of the current restrictions on Russia and think about choosing prosperity over coercion. Other world leaders and countries attempt to keep distance from the conflict assuming, that it’s not their business at all and it does not affect them in any manner. But, is all these true?.. Remember, Vladimir Putin claimed, those were not Russian troops in Crimea, who blocked the Ukrainian military units?.. As you can see, Russians often explain their behavior with what can be believed (i.e., just lie), but that does not have to be the truth. The real things are usually different…

But, is the world really unicentric?.. And does USA really dominate the world?.. In fact, this is one of those conspiracy theories, that allow to explain complex global processes in a simple way. Thus, the world can hardly be called unicentric while China has economic control over USA (through debts). Actually, it’s more likely, that the world has at least three centers – USA (let’s suppose Europe is not independent), China and… Russia (that attempts to dominate former USSR republics, for now). Certainly, USA is suspected in domination for a reason – in particular due to (sometimes, quite aggressive) attempts to spread democracy around the world. However, this can indicate, that USA just took an active stand against authoritarian regimes. And this can be, in fact, understood, if we consider the Nazi regime in Germany and the imperialist regime in Japan. As the World War II clearly shows, each such regime can potentially bring danger and instability to the world. Then, is USA so wrong?.. I personally believe, that this should not be only USA’s objective! (And it is not, as Europe actually shares it. May be that’s why Russians claim, that Europe is America’s vassal?..) Some actions of USA were, of course, too aggressive (e.g. in Iraq), but still they were taken against authoritarian regimes. And all these happen, when two other world centers – China and Russia – which also have suffered from aggressive authoritarian regimes in the past, just don’t care. Maybe that’s because, they are authoritarian as well?.. Both these countries are also known to support other authoritarian regimes (like Syria and North Korea). So, it does not look like a unicentric world! Instead it does looks like a bicentric world with two major centers, that are opposed to each other – the democratic one (USA, Europe) and the authoritarian one (Russia, China).

Actually we already had this world order before. Remember, there was the communist center led by USSR and the democratic center led by USA?.. I can conclude, that the map, names and borders have changed, but not the gist. So, this means, that Russia does not seek for a polycentric world, but craves for returning its role of a world leader. That’s what Russia wanted for centuries, by the way – first as the Russian Empire, then as USSR and now as the Russian Federation. So, when you think, that Russia, maybe, should better get its “polycentric” world, you actually tolerate the return of USSR (with all the after-effects). Do you really want this?.. Even so I doubt that’s the real end purpose of Russians! And I do have reasons to doubt…

Did you know, that many Russians join the war on the Ukrainian East to fight against… Americans? Yes, they really kill Ukrainian soldiers, because they believe, the latter are led by USA and NATO! So, does it look like a battle for a polycentric world? Or does it look like a battle against USA?.. All the time, first the soviet propaganda and now the Russian one depicted Americans and the West as the primary enemies of Russians! (You don’t believe me? Ask your Russian friends, what do Russians think about USA!) Considering this, do you think, if they got their polycentric world, they would instantly become friends with USA and the West?.. If you checked Russian mass media, you would also notice, that quite often they predict the coming crash of USA and nominate Russia as the best candidate for the new world leader. So, I believe, that’s their real end purpose – Russians actually do not want a poly- or bicentric world, instead they want the unicentric world with the new leader (guess, who)! This can also be proven by the fact, that the Russian Federation always treated NATO as a threat, while it is actually just a collective defense alliance

So, if you tolerate the “polycentric” world according to Russia, you should also consider pondering over Russia as the new world leader. But, what would be the new world order under the Russian leadership?.. Incidentally, as a Ukrainian – a citizen of the country, that used to be a “friend” of Russia – I can help you understand this…

You might think, that the Ukrainian crisis is perhaps not significant enough for some countries to quarrel with the Russian Federation and that, maybe, it’s a good chance for them to intensify their friendship with this country. This also makes sense as Russia is known to own rich resources, which have become partially freed due to the conflict with the West. This opened new opportunities, which such countries as Greece, India, Zimbabwe and North Korea are looking to address. Certainly, there will be profit of establishing closer relations with Russia right now, but one, who does this, should consider, what is the “right” friendship according to Russia… In the case, you did not know – we got the Ukrainian crisis, because we appeared to be a “not good enough friend” for this our neighbor. We were a very close “friend” for Russia – a “younger brother”, as they used to call us – and that meant, that we got many liabilities for them including the liability to obey. Of course, you can doubt or think, I just got it wrong, but let’s check other “brothers”, then?..

USA, which is depicted as the evil by the Russian propaganda, have great relations with their closest neighbors – Canada and Mexico. And, what relations with Russia do its closest “friends” – Belarus and Kazakhstan – have?.. Belarus, which is considered to be another “younger brother” of Russia, has… regular diplomatic tensions, energy disputes and trade wars with its “older brother”. Thus, in 2009 Belarus accused Russia of pressure to force the country to recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Later that year Russia started the Milk war against Belarus. In 2010 Belarus and Russia demanded from each other to pay debts and threatened to cut gas (by Russia) and to halt transit of gas (by Belarus), if the other side would not. In 2014 Belarus accused Russia of violating the regulations of the Eurasian Customs Union by prohibiting food products of numerous Belarusian manufacturers. And so on… Nice friendship, isn’t it?.. Kazakhstan is more lucky, but it also has regular diplomatic tensions with Russia (e.g., related to the rental of Baikonur Cosmodrome, “infringements” of rights of the Russian population in Kazakhstan and cooperation between Kazakhstan and NATO through IPAP). Thus, in 2014 after Putin made an offensive declaration regarding Kazakh statehood the president Nazarbayev even threatened to loosen ties with Russia… By the way, both these countries are considered to be authoritarian, what can explain, why are they still with Russia (as Europe would ask for democratic reforms).

Still no believe?.. Let’s see what are relations of Belarus and Kazakhstan with the new Ukraine, then? No trade wars, no diplomatic tensions, no other conflicts – presidents of both these countries are trying to help Ukraine deescalate the crisis. Thus, Belarus suggested the Minsk format, which is actively used, and Kazakhstan tried to host talks in the Normandy format. But those are not all conclusions made by them… Thus, Belarus revised its military doctrine to be ready for invasion of the “little green men“, which were used by Russia in Crimea to annex the peninsula. And Kazakhstan carried out military exercises to fight foreign groups from extremist, terrorist and separatist organizations. So, when such countries as Greece and Turkey prepare to intensify their friendship with Russia, its “best friends” prepare to resist possible Russian invasion. Funny, isn’t it?..

But don’t think, that Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan are the only countries, that suffer due to being neighbors of the Russian Federation. Almost all other neighbors have (or had) similar issues as well. Thus, relations between Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Russia are strained due to different views on their history – these countries claim, that Russia (as USSR) occupied and annexed them, but Russia refuses to recognize that. Actually, much more countries believe, that Russia occupied them (e.g., Poland, Finland, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Slovakia and Japan), but only these three claim this officially (so far Russia has not recognized any fact of occupation and/or annexation of anything, as far as I know – it seriously claims, that it liberated them). Certainly, all the mentioned occupations were in the past, but Russia did not stop doing this actually (what proves, that it did not change), what can be seen on example of Crimea. Also not only Ukraine became its victim nowadays. Thus, in 2008 Russia occupied Georgia and declared its two provinces Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent countries (not recognized by the world community). Doesn’t this remind you DPR/LPR?..

By the way, maybe that’s why Russians do not want NATO to get closer to their borders?.. They just would not be able to do things like that against NATO allies. Officially Russians claim, that they have doubts regarding intentions of NATO, but did NATO do anything, that could make them worry?.. I, personally, can’t recall such things. On the other side, Russia stages different military provocations against its neighbors and NATO allies quite often (e.g., Russian warships sailed too close to foreign waters, Russian warplanes flew too close to foreign airspace, Russian fleet located off Australia ahead of G20 summit, and so on). So maybe NATO should worry instead?.. At least now it does! Formerly all NATO’s actions were more defensive, but still they irritated Russia (and now it becomes clear, why). Thus, Russia even threatened a nuclear strike against Poland, if the country allows anti-missile shield to be placed in its territory. Just ponder over it – nuclear strike just not to let Europe defend itself!

Though, it should be admitted, that good relations between Russia and another country are possible… If such country does not impede Russia’s interests, does not own anything, that is of interest for Russia, or is just too strong (for the time). However, still such countries should be ready, that russians will buy their companies, mass media, resources and so on – all these things will be used against the country, if and when needed. Russia does not hesitate to use its companies in disputes, what can be seen on the example of Gazprom. At the moment, Russians own many strategic companies in many countries around the globe (e.g., in Algeria, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Cyprus, France, Germany, Italy, Kyrgyzstan, Netherlands, Serbia, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Uzbekistan, Vietnam etc)…

But, perhaps, the worst thing for inhabitants of Russia’s “friends” is that such countries can get the liability to remain “friends” no matter what. Did you notice, that countries, that have good relations with Russia, are usually authoritarian?.. Thus, they are China, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, Egypt, Cuba, Zimbabwe and so on. Certainly, the main reason, why they are friends, is the common anti-democratic (and anti-USA) position, but it’s not the only one. In a democracy, people may change the governing party and, therefore, the foreign relations policy – i.e., they may choose, for example, to go West instead of being dependent on Russia, what have happened in Ukraine. But for the Russian Federation this means the threat of losing influence on the country and, as it could be seen on examples of Ukraine and Georgia, Russians may decide, that they do not want this… It’s understandable, as it’s much easier to have good relations with one party and/or leader, e.g., through sponsoring them, than to establish new relations on fair conditions each time the party or leader changes. That’s the reason, why Russians support (including funding) far-right Hungarian Jobbik, French National Front, and so on. And that’s why Russians supported Yanukovych. That’s also the reason, why they were so against changing Yanukovych to someone else (while they would agree on some his successor)! They even started the war on the Ukrainian East for this reason! So, I wonder – If they find Greek Syriza friendly enough, would they let Greek people change the governing party, when the time comes?.. I would not be so sure.

By the way, did you ever see, that USA or EU intervened domestic affairs of a country, when its people were electing an anti-West party (e.g., in Greece or in Ukraine in 2010)?.. I personally did not! Russia accuses the West of setting up puppet regimes in countries around the world, but, if they really set them up, would not they also do everything possible to keep them?.. I think, they would! As I see no reason, why USA would not try to protect its “puppet” regimes, if they had spent resources to install them. Although, I’m not saying, that Russia is in any way participating in establishing its “friend” regimes, but at least it does really a lot to protect them (e.g., Belarus, Kazakhstan, Syria). Moreover, in fact, the Russian Federation espires to export the Russian-style government to other countries (as an alternative to “USA-style” democracy) and it have already succeeded in Belarus and Kazakhstan (and tried in Ukraine). Additionally, Russians claim, that the only legitimate way to change a regime is through elections. And that’s when they know for sure, that elections can be falsified. Thus, Ukrainians have reasons to believe, that election falsifications of the Yanukovych’s regime in Ukraine were inspired by Russians (have Russian political strategists already started to instruct Syriza on how to do this?)…

That’s why, I wonder, if people really want Russia to become new leader of the new unicentric world?.. I also wonder, if people of such countries as Greece are really ready to have the current governing party permanently without the right to change it?.. Because, this can be what the Russia as the new leader mean. Think again!