Russia needs an open dialogue inside and with the West to develop a better foreign policy.
Some elements of the Putin-doctrine are fixed, some in progress, others more flexible.
Some are understandable from the Russian point of view, several show frustration, some are too aggressive and dangerous, several are just naive.
Many ideas and actions remind to the Cold War mentality, when Putin and his people were young, a comeback to the old thinking of black and white.
Too many show a misperception of the world and the real base of power in the 21st century.
Many Russians have become the victims of their own manipulated propaganda. This has become a very dangerous world view, a trap for yourself. You see things manipulated, not the reality any more. You develop a bunker mentality. The beginning of the end of a rational and successful foreign policy. This can lead to a fake-policy, even worse confrontation and war.
It was a good and wise step by the Kremlin to promote a political solution for Syria in Geneva- a candle of fresh realism and Realpolitik.
Let us therefore dig deeper into the Russian soul of President Putin.
18 months ago the Russian President opened his mindset and talked about his perception of the world and his thinking:
In Sochi, he told the Valdai International Discussion club on October 24th, 2014, in his important statement on The World Order: New Rules or a Game without Rules.
It showed the new Putin-doctrine for the first time and needs to be analyzed word by word:
The President said very open:
“If we do not speak directly and honestly about what we really think, then there is little point in even meeting …
We get together so as to talk frankly with each other. We need to be direct and blunt today not so as to trade barbs, but so as to attempt to get to the bottom of what is actually happening in the world, try to understand why the world is becoming less safe and more unpredictable, and why the risks are increasing everywhere around us.”
I agree- excellent approach- thank you Mr Putin– let do it! We need an open exchange indeed.
The Russian President demanded: “As we analyse today’s situation, let us not forget history’s lessons… changes in the world order …have usually been accompanied …by chains of intensive local-level conflicts. Second global politics is above all about economic leadership, issues of war and peace, and the humanitarian dimension, including human rights… The world is full of contradictions today. We need to be frank in asking each other if we have a reliable safety net in place. Sadly, there is no guarantee and no certainty that the current system of global and regional security is able to protect us from upheavals. This system has become seriously weakened, fragmented and deformed.”
Again I agree to Vladimir Putin- more and more becoming a Putin-Versteher’, someone who understands him.
His focus is the United States of America. They did it all wrong and are the bad-guys of global choas:
“It is my conviction that we could not take this mechanism of checks and balances that we built over the last decades, sometimes with such effort and difficulty, and simply tear it apart without building anything in its place. Otherwise we would be left with no instruments other than brute force. What we needed to do was to carry out a rational reconstruction and adapt it to the new realities in the system of international relations.
But the United States, having declared itself the winner of the Cold War, saw no need for this. Instead of establishing a new balance of power, essential for maintaining order and stability, they took steps that threw the system into sharp and deep imbalance. “
Here comes my disagreement.
- Putin is right to criticize the mismanaging of the US in Iraq, Syria, Libya or Afghanistan when no solid plans were made and implemented for the days-after military actions. The White House indeed has a poor track-record for at least ten years in managing crisis hot spots. The Maghreb is in uprising and war-lords and Islamists pop up in the deserts and cities due to a vacuum of stability. This is an American disaster indeed. This mismanagement of the White House must end as soon as possible. The main problem is not bad-will by US Presidents, but an ineffective bureaucratic process- see my speech and fresh approach and proposals in World 3.0 for more details.
- But where is the better plan from Mother Russia? Where has the Kremlin masterminded better structures? Only to say Nyet! Is nothing a value for our world. Only to stick with obscure dictators is not the future. I would love to see not only criticism but better performances by Russia itself. Come with plans for Iraq and Syria and let the West and Russia work together against the real threat of terrorists- as in the past.
- What is wrong with EU-Russia relations in security issues today? Nobody in Western and Central Europe blames Russia for speaking in favor of human rights for the Russian minorities in the former USSR republics, as these rights are guaranteed by the UN, the Helsinki Charter as well as the Council of Europe or OSCE and the tradition in the European Union to treat minorities fair and at its best- look at the German minority in Poland or France or Belgium or South Tyrol, the Sorbs or Danish in North Germany or different minorities in The Balkans.
- Nobody blames Mr Putin for wanting to modernize his forces- like the U.S. and all NATO countries and EU members do.
- Nobody blames the Kremlin for military exercises- as we all do in Europe.
The EU and NATO and the US only blames Moscow for sending undercover or above it thousands of “volunteers” or reserve-officers and soldiers “on holiday” together with a lot of weapons into a European state, after in 1994 Russia had given its word not to do so in the Budapest Agreement with Kiev and signed the Helsinki Accord in 1975 and the UN Charter much earlier.
Russia has broken its word and three important contracts, the fundament of stability in Europe since decades.
Does this not contradict the demands of Mr Putin for “respect for the European peace order”?
He told in Sochi:
“The Cold War ended, but it did not end with the signing of a peace treaty with clear and transparent agreements on respecting existing rules or creating new rules and standards. This created the impression that the so-called ‘victors’ in the Cold War had decided to pressure events and reshape the world to suit their own needs and interests. If the existing system of international relations, international law and the checks and balances in place got in the way of these aims, this system was declared worthless, outdated and in need of immediate demolition.
Pardon the analogy, but this is the way nouveaux riches behave when they suddenly end up with a great fortune, in this case, in the shape of world leadership and domination. Instead of managing their wealth wisely, for their own benefit too of course, I think they have committed many follies.
We have entered a period of differing interpretations and deliberate silences in world politics. International law has been forced to retreat over and over by the onslaught of legal nihilism. Objectivity and justice have been sacrificed on the altar of political expediency. Arbitrary interpretations and biased assessments have replaced legal norms. At the same time, total control of the global mass media has made it possible when desired to portray white as black and black as white.
In a situation where you had domination by one country and its allies, or its satellites rather, the search for global solutions often turned into an attempt to impose their own universal recipes. This group’s ambitions grew so big that they started presenting the policies they put together in their corridors of power as the view of the entire international community. But this is not the case.
The very notion of ‘national sovereignty’ became a relative value for most countries. In essence, what was being proposed was the formula: the greater the loyalty towards the world’s sole power centre, the greater this or that ruling regime’s legitimacy.”
- This should be not only addressed towards the United States, but the Russian Federation – and its actions in Ukraine – as well. When in a glasshouse Mr Putin is criticizing the US for not respecting national sovereignty, why not behave better in Ukraine? Why make the same mistakes the US is blamed for?
- How would the Russians feel, if NATO starts a pro-Western infiltration with thousands of NATO soldier on holidays in Belarus? Or pay proxy-fighters in the Caucasus region to kick the Russian out, like done in Afghanistan in the 1980th?
The Russian actions in Eastern Ukraine sometimes remind me to someone who commits suicide out of fear to die. Or to a nasty school-boy who blames his class-mate for misbehavior – only to do exactly the same.
To me Russian President Putin acts a little like our last German Kaiser Wilhelm II who wanted to be respected by the big power (the UK) and blamed them. At the very end of his deadly ego-trip versus Great Britain and France and the United States 100 years ago, he and Germany lost it all.
My advice to my Russian friends: look carefully into German history and study the mistakes of the last 100 years- but better: do not copy and repeat.
I fully understand the frustration of the Russian President in the orange revolution in Kiev and agree that the EU mismanaged the association process by not in parallel coming to an agreement with Russia and trade.
I like the Minsk-Protocol from September 5th, 2014- a wise document-but is has to be implemented- by Russia as well by the rebels.
We need a peaceful solution for Ukraine, as I have proposed in the White Paper Ukraine since a long time with my World Security Network.
Based on the 60 years of successful peace in Europe where cultural and border disputes have been mellowed by a peaceful referendum-and-reconciliation-approach, these are my 5 steps to achieving peace in Ukraine:
- A copy of the South Tyrol/Trentino Alto Adige Accord from 1971 for maximum autonomy in the Donbass region within Ukraine.
- True reconciliation and implementation of the Codes of Tolerance for all minorities in Ukraine.
- A Reconciliation Referendum for Crimea, as done by Germany and France in 1955 for the disputed Saarland. The people of Crimea should decide under UN/OSCE control whether to be within Ukraine of Russia.
- An integration of Russia in the EU-Ukraine-Trade-Agreement.
- A fresh dialogue and reset of NATO-Russia Relations.
President Putin is very badly advised- unfortunately for him, the Russian people and all of us in Europe.
- The strategy today, the actions, and the nationalistic visions make Russian not strong but weak, not respected but outlawed, not happy but sad. It is a dead-end-road of Russian isolationism- a Wagenburg-or bunker-mentality like the proud Germans in 1914.
- They woke the ghosts of nationalism which will push Mother Russia deeper and deeper into a dead-end road, confrontation, isolation. Right into the arms of the Chinese Dragon which is very vital and 8 times bigger and stronger than the Russian Teddy Bear.
- There is no Russian strategy. It is a mess out of misperception and a lose-lose approach.
- America- the arch adversary of the Cold War- is only strong because of Wall Street, Silicon Valley or Hollywood and Harvard. The military power is based on economic strength, innovation, free enterprise, rule of law, reliable law enforcement and courts, free media, a democratic system. With all weak points in a no-perfect-world of human beings.
- And Russia? Where is this all? Where progress for humanity? Inventions? Liberty? Happy entrepreneurs and no corruption needed?
Russia is and will be forever weak if it does not go the path of Peter the Great- radical reforms, like done in Europe and in the former republics of the USSR, the Baltic states, with much success. This is the base of power.
The USSR or the GDR failed not because they were not forceful in military power, but because they all lacked the hums of economical and political progress. Why should it work now after it failed?
Partnership: in a globalized world even the US or the EU can not act alone, they must partner, convince, and compromise. Can Russia do this as well? This is a Russian myth – or naive wishful thinking.
There is no threat by the EU nor NATO nor the US– all this is a misperception which harms the design of a powerful Russia. There are no plans to attack, no war-games, no threats-nothing. Why plan and invest on something which does not exist and not fix the real problems to be strong and powerful inside?
Speech by Globalo founder Dr. Hubertus Hoffmann at the St. Petersburg Konrad-Adenauer Foundation Conference November 2014.