Opening Asia for Russia

Vladimir Putin: "In the 21st century, the vector of Russia's development is development to the east"

29.12.2017 231 просмотров

The outgoing year has confirmed the adherence of Russian President Vladimir Putin to his long-standing foreign policy credo: readiness to develop relations always and with everyone - both in the West and in the East, but never to the detriment of Russian national interests.

It is obvious that the country will enter the New Year with the same guidelines and will live according to them at least until May - the inauguration of the next president of the Russian Federation. In the future, the foreign policy guidelines of the Russian Federation will either undergo adjustments, since a number of those who have declared their intention to compete for the presidency profess different views on the current picture of the world, or, in the event of Putin's victory in the elections, they will remain in their previous form.

At the opening of the monument To Alexander III in Crimea last November, the Russian leader recalled the words of Sergei Witte that the tsar-peacemaker gave Russia peace "not by concessions, but by fair and unshakable firmness." The goal of the current authorities, according to Putin, is also to pursue such a domestic and foreign policy "so that it would not even occur to anyone" to attack Russia. Throughout 2017, Moscow, as before, did not cave in under ever-increasing sanctions, but in a number of areas - for example, in the Middle East - it noticeably increased its weight and strengthened its position.

This year, Putin made 20 foreign visits, including - twice visited Hungary, Turkey, China, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. In addition, in Europe, Putin was received in France, Finland and Germany (at the G20 summit in Hamburg). Of the CIS countries, the President of the Russian Federation was also in Belarus, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. In the Middle East - in Egypt, Iran and Syria. For the APEC summit, Putin came to Vietnam. A year earlier, Putin made 19 foreign visits, in 2015 - a dozen and a half, about the same number was, for example, in 2013, even before the sanctions. The foreign policy activity of the Russian leader, if it tends to increase, is why no one remembers any attempts to isolate Russia.

Small victorious operation

The main and the unconditional success of the Russian leader in the international arena in recent years is the salvation of Syria. That's right, in a nutshell, without quotes, brackets and clarifying footnotes. And then you can analyze this story in layers.

The first layer is the fight against terrorism, which is what Putin first of all explained his decision to launch the operation of the Russian Aerospace Forces in the SAR in the fall of 2015. Including, the fight against home-grown terrorists on the distant approaches, the destruction in the Syrian sands of all those who could come home under black banners - to the North Caucasus and other regions of Russia. "What would happen if these hundreds, thousands [of militants] returned to us trained, armed, well trained?" - the head of state noted, summing up the military campaign.

The second component of the operation of the Russian Aerospace Forces is the support of the legitimate authorities in a friendly country, where since Soviet times there has been the only base in the Mediterranean for the Russian Navy in Tartus. The third layer is assistance in preserving the territorial integrity of a large secular state in the Middle East, which has already been predicted the fate of unfortunate Libya and other victims of the Arab Spring and violent "democratization." But Moscow helped Damascus to confuse the cards with those who were already planning to divide the "Syrian legacy".

Another layer is humanitarian, and it is not only about humanitarian aid as such, but also about creating conditions for the return of refugees. "The citizens of Syria will remember with gratitude the courage of our servicemen, who sometimes delivered food, medicine, and essentials to people under fire," Putin said, awarding Russian officers.

Finally, the operation in Syria is an important element of the military training of the Armed Forces The Russian Federation and the demonstration of the strength of Russian weapons.

Together, this strengthened the position of the Russian state not only in the Middle East, but also in the international arena as a whole. And this result is all the more valuable given that the country was actively involved in Syrian history, being under sanctions and pressure from the West and when Russia was predicted almost diplomatic isolation. Such forecasts did not come true. 
The main task for 2018 is to consolidate this success with a political settlement, the impetus for which should be given, among other things, by the Syrian National Dialogue Congress planned in Sochi. Russia and its leader in this matter are assigned the role of one of the most important mediators.

Among the main images of 2017 will be Putin, who arrived at the base of the Russian Aerospace Forces in Khmeimim to congratulate the Russian military on their victory and tell them: "The Motherland is waiting you friends! Thank you for your service." According to the Supreme Commander-in-Chief, the operation in Syria showed the growing power of the Russian army and navy, the domestic defense complex, the best qualities of the Russian soldier, "and if the terrorists raise their heads again, we will inflict such blows on them that they have not yet seen."

In order not only to refute, but at least to argue with any of these words, you yourself need to have a successful military operation in your asset, and Putin has few such opponents on the world stage.

The Korean issue

Obviously, settlement of the situation on the Korean Peninsula, which has escalated in recent years due to the intensification of the DPRK's nuclear missile program and Pyongyang's regular missile tests, will also remain on the agenda in the coming year.

As the head of the Committee on Northern Economic Cooperation and Key Policy in the Presidential Administration of South Korea, who oversees relations with Russia, Son Yong-gil, noted in an interview with TASS, it is Putin who can play a leading role in deciding crisis on the Korean Peninsula. Putin's position on this issue is consistent and well known, and is unlikely to change: "Russia condemns North Korea's [nuclear-missile] exercises, we believe they are provocative." However, as the President of the Russian Federation noted, the intensification of military rhetoric in this situation is not just a dead end, but disastrous. "All parties must show restraint and seek a peaceful solution," Putin emphasized, explaining that the DPRK would give up its nuclear program only if it felt safe.

Thus, Putin puts part of the responsibility for resolving this issue on USA and its allies. The Americans, in turn, on the contrary, declare that they would like Russia's greater participation in solving the North Korean problem. A certain piquancy lies in the fact that these same inhabitants of the shining city on the hill put our country on a par with the DPRK and impose sanctions against the Russian Federation. "This is beyond common sense," Putin commented on this absurdity in American foreign policy. At the same time, the Russian leader stressed that Russia is trying "not to pout and not be offended," but to resolve issues in the field of international security without regard to the current political situation.

It is clear, however, that the development of the situation largely depends not from Putin, and not even from Trump, but from the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, who has repeatedly surprised the world with peculiar responses to regular sanctions. Therefore, the forecast for 2018 on this issue remains somewhat open.

Oh sport, you - ...what?

Particular attention to the North Korean problem is associated with one of the main events in the world of sports in 2018 - the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, located near the border of the two Koreas. But while in other countries they were discussing how safe it is to go to the Games, in Russia completely different issues had to be resolved.

Putin hypothetically had several answers to the unsportsmanlike decision of the IOC to remove the country from the Olympics, some of which would have pleased "cheers-patriots". But he settled on the most fair option for athletes and sports fans: having criticized the position of the IOC, the Russian leader did not boycott the Games and left the decision on the participation of Russians under a neutral flag to the Olympians themselves.

As a result, the Russians will still go to the Olympics, and the Russian audience will be able to empathize with the performances of olympic athletes from Russia. It just so happens that of all sides of this story, Russia is the only one who acted in accordance with the principle of "sport is out of politics." The same South Korean politician Song Yong-gil expressed hope that Putin would be able to attend the Pyeongchang Olympics, but the Kremlin has not reported such plans and one can hardly expect the Russian leader to make such a decision.

Another major sporting event 2018 - FIFA World Cup in Russia. Putin assured that the country would hold these competitions at the highest level, so that they would become a real celebration of sports, the values of which "are not subject to any current situation."

East and oil

In early October, on the way from Vnukovo airport towards Moscow, there were posters greeting the custodian of the two Islamic shrines, King of Saudi Arabia Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. Until recently, it was not easy to imagine a visit to Russia by a Saudi monarch, but even here Putin showed his ability to build bridges, despite all the existing contradictions between the two countries (including recent ones over Syria) and the alliance between Riyadh and Washington.

Following the talks in Moscow, the President of the Russian Federation and the King of Saudi Arabia agreed to take bilateral relations to a new level. One example of a coordinated and mutually beneficial policy of the two countries in recent years is the decision to freeze the level of oil production. For the first time, the OPEC+ alliance agreement was reached at the end of 2016, showed its effectiveness and was extended until April 2018.

Last year, Russia developed its relations with other countries of the region, including Turkey and Iran. The creation of conditions in Syria for a transition to a political settlement was largely the result of the joint efforts of Moscow, Ankara and Tehran, which are already called the "Sochi trio" (at the venue of the talks on Syria between the President of the Russian Federation with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in November ).

Activity in this area did not prevent Putin from intensive contacts with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, just as establishing ties with the Saudis did not prevent the development of Russia's relations with Qatar and Iran, and vice versa. All this, of course, speaks of the considerable diplomatic skills of the Russian leadership, which he will have to demonstrate more than once.

Asia-Pacific policy and other areas of cooperation

Under Putin and the current Prime Minister of Japan, whose political power once again won the trust of voters in the elections in October, Shinzo Abe, noticeably intensified the discussion of the parameters of a peace treaty between the countries, the conclusion of which the Japanese side links with the resolution of the issue of the status of "four northern islands" (southern part of the Russian Kuriles). Putin visited Japan in December 2016, Abe visited Russia twice in 2017, the leaders also saw each other at the G20 summits in Germany and APEC in Vietnam, and spoke on the phone several times. For the first time, the parties decide on the issue of joint Japanese-Russian economic activity in the Kuriles, on the implementation of a number of economic projects proposed by the head of the Japanese government; a program of visa-free visits to the Kuriles, including closed areas, by former residents of these islands from Japan has been launched. In 2018, the cross Year of Culture of Russia and Japan will be held.

The Japanese Prime Minister announced his intention to continue the active development of relations with Russia in various fields. Putin has no problems with this, he is always for the development of relations with those who are ready to develop them. At the same time, the Russian leader emphasizes that the preparation of a peace treaty is a big job that can take more than one year. "We need to see what obligations Japan has with its partners in the field of security (that is, primarily with the United States - TASS note), what it can and what it cannot do on its own," Putin explained.

Among the main partners of Russia in the world arena in the past year, as before, were also China and the CIS countries, including members of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU). the Chinese Silk Road and the EAEU, as well as the creation of Russia's proposed grand Eurasian partnership.

These and many other current issues will certainly remain on the Russian leader's foreign policy agenda for 2018.

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