Moscow’s Outlook about Polarity

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Reza Salehi

Under conditions that the political crisis between the United States and Russia is escalating many of the Kremlin leaders still reiterate their old strategies, something that has been turned into the Achilles Heel for the Russians at the beginning of the third millennium. By sticking to this outlook, the Russians have lost many of their opportunities vis-à-vis the US and West and have made themselves vulnerable against the European Union. Moscow’s inappropriate reaction to the developments around it has made Georgia and Ukraine proceed as far as joining NATO under the White House support.  

Meanwhile, under these circumstances, the Russian officials are talking about multipolar world and fall of the US power. Of course, there is no doubt that the US power is declining but the question is whether this failure is due to the efforts of Russia and its perspectives about international developments. The answer is negative simply because Russia too, like US is a main threat to global security. Under these conditions, Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev are trying to speak about a polarity which Russia is distancing from every day.

The Russian president recently appeared before the media persons to outline Moscow’s latest stances on the battle in South Ossetia. Medvedev in his remarks enumerated five principles in Russia’s foreign policy one of which was Moscow’s opposition to a unipolar world and its emphasis on multipolarism. But interestingly, the Russian news agency Ria Novosti a month earlier cited considerable points regarding Moscow’s macro and long-term goals. Although that report had been published before the outbreak of the war in Georgia, but its contradictions with Medvedev’s statements is a source of misgiving and contemplation.

Part of the report said the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation expects the US to be the sole super power in 2030 and for the same reason the most Moscow could do was not to lag behind other armies in technical terms. The least Russia could do in this respect is to keep conscription until 2030, it said. According to the report it was not acceptable for Russia to see other powers grow in parallel with the US unless that power was the Kremlin! Before favoring a multipolar system in the world, Russia is seeking revival of bipolar system.

Although Stalin’s burned generation are reluctant to call each other “Tavarish” (comrade) as was the case in a not too distant past, but the rules of the game in the bipolar world is once again turning into a basis for Russia’s action in the international order. In the course of the recent disputes in the Caucasus, the United States resorted to NATO and EU to put pressure on Russia but in the early stage, Moscow preferred to fight alone against the wave of Western onslaughts and it only woke up when member countries of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization were not prepared to fully support Russia. Here I do not intend to negate the extremist Chevalier spirit of a person like Putin but it must be admitted that the Russians have no choice but to move in line with a multipolar world.

In other words, Russia is not the initiator of a multipolar world but doomed to move in line with creation of such a world. As the international order is opposed to US unilateralism it would also reject Russia’s hegemonic quest. The Russian officials at the current juncture prefer not to use the phrase “bipolar world” in their international literature but in their infrastructural interactions they have no concern but renewed confrontation between the Kremlin and the White House as two superior poles of the 21st century. Revitalization of history by the Russians would be very costly. No matter how powerful Moscow might be but it would be unable to block Beijing’s way towards polarization. The European Union too, in case their extremist statesmen are replaced by rationalist politicians, would automatically follow the path of polarity. Now the question is that based on what political and historical logic does Russia want to revive the bipolar world? Will the components and rules dominant over the world today allow the Russians fulfill their ambitions?


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