Russia launched its new geopolitical doctrine

Russia announced this Friday a new diplomatic doctrine, which paints the West as an “existential threat” whose “domination” must be fought. The adoption of this doctrine formalizes the deep rift between Russia and Western countries since the offensive against Ukraine began in February 2022, which led NATO to consolidate and expand, and Moscow to look at China and India.

In a 40-page document with a tone reminiscent of the Cold War, Russia presents itself as the defender of the Russian-speaking world, against Westerners who want to “weaken Russia by all means.” The new document posted on the Kremlin’s website replaces a 2016 version. Today, “Russia intends to give priority attention to eliminating vestiges of dominance by the US and other hostile states in global affairs.”

At a meeting of his National Security Council, President Vladimir Putin justified the document on the basis of “big changes on the international scene,” which force Russia to “adapt its strategic planning documents.” The new doctrine underlines “the existential nature of the threats (…) created by the actions of unfriendly countries”, and designates the US as “the main instigator and bandleader of the anti-Russian line”, summed up the minister. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. “In general, the Western policy of weakening Russia by all means is characterized as a hybrid war of a new type,” Foreign Minister Lavrov added.

China, key partner

The US and its allies have implemented a series of economic sanctions against Russia, which accuses them of waging a proxy war in Ukraine by delivering weapons to kyiv. Russia, increasingly isolated in the West, has tried to get closer politically and economically to Asia, particularly China, a country that it considers a priority in its new doctrine.

In the new strategy, Moscow stresses the importance of “deepening relations and coordination with friendly sovereign global centers of power and development, located on the Eurasian continent.” Putin showed a close relationship with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping during a recent summit in Moscow and highlighted the “special nature” of relations between the two countries. Those ties, however, look increasingly lopsided in China’s favor, due to the growing reliance on Russia.

The new Russian doctrine gives an important place to relations with Africa, where Moscow has strengthened its presence through the Wagner paramilitary group. Finally, the document presents Russia as a “civilization” that brings together the peoples that define “the Russian world.” The concept has been used by the Kremlin to justify the offensive in Ukraine, where it claims to defend the Russian-speaking minority.

Putin is presented as the banner of the “traditional values” of the Orthodox Church against the decadence of the West, which is also reflected in this new doctrine. The document states that it is necessary to “neutralize attempts to impose pseudo-humanist and neoliberal ideological principles, which lead to the loss of traditional spirituality and moral principles.”

The analysis of the document

For Jorge Wozniak, an expert in the history of Russia and Ukraine, Putin’s defense of the Russian world is essentially a conservative proposal to gain internal support for his government. At the same time, it has a correlate in foreign policy: “there was an anti-Russian cultural policy in Ukraine and that allows us to understand the great support in Russia for the invasion. And it is a message to other countries with large Russian minorities. The Baltic countries excluded for law to all Russian and Ukrainian descendants of citizenship — in violation of EU statutes — and in recent years, they are limiting any cultural manifestation of that minority. They are saved from Moscow’s intervention because they are protected by NATO The defense of the Russian world is an excellent argument for continuing to influence the internal politics of some neighboring states.”

Wozniak stops to analyze episodes that, in general, are made invisible: “In the case of Ukraine, it is striking how -despite the great repression by Zelenski against the pro-Russians- thousands of people took to the streets in Kiev to oppose the eviction of the Orthodox monks of the Kiev Lavra, accused of being pro-Putin. It seems that for these protesters, the defense of the Russian world would not be just words.”

Zelensky in Bucha

Ukraine’s President Volodimir Zelensky said Friday that his country will “never” forgive Russia for its occupation of Bucha, a town near Kiev where Russian forces are accused of massacring civilians. Bucha, retaken by Ukraine a year ago, “is a symbol of the atrocities of the occupying country’s army. We will never forgive. We will punish each guilty party,” Zelensky said on social media.

On March 31, 2022, the Russian army withdrew from Bucha, just over a month after launching an offensive against Ukraine. Two days later, AFP journalists discovered charred remains of vehicles, destroyed houses and the bodies of 20 men in civilian clothes, one of them with his hands tied behind his back. Ukraine and Western countries denounced summary executions and war crimes.

Vokzalna Street, where heavy fighting took place, is now filled with bulldozers and dump trucks, and masons working to rebuild houses and roads. A column of Russian armored vehicles was destroyed in this artery. His remains were charred at the scene. Many of the houses lining the street were destroyed. Anatoly Yevdokimenko, 60, is delighted to show his completely renovated house. “The roof was destroyed, the doors and windows were broken. The projectiles hit everywhere,” he said. “Volunteers started coming for reconstruction. Then there was a program to rebuild Bucha, especially Vokzalna street,” he said. During the occupation, “the Russians lived in our basement and prepared food in the patio,” he recounted. Yevdokimenko was able to leave the town through a humanitarian corridor on March 12.

Natalia Zelinska also benefited from the reconstruction of her house at the intersection of Vokzalna and Yablunska streets, where the massacre of civilians took place: “I did not see the moment of the massacre (…) but when we were forced to leave the house (…) we saw many corpses, many people murdered,” he said.

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