Valdai Club Brings the Russian Perspective to the Middle East
Abu Dhabi

On November 13, Chairman of the Board of the Foundation for Development and Support of the Valdai Discussion Club Professor Andrey Bystritskiy took part in the session “Russia: Old Lenses for a New World” at the Fourth Annual Abu Dhabi Strategic Debate organized by the Emirates Policy Center.  The session looked at the evolution of Russia’s role in the world arena and what regional powers should expect from it in the future.

In his address to the audience Andrey Bystritskiy explained that Russia is no longer a country that it used to be 25 years ago. During this time a completely new generation has grown up in Russia and it has heralded the emergence of a new Russian political, civil nation. He noted that people who are increasingly joining the Russian government are new people who have no background in the Soviet Union, have no Soviet education and were never members of the Komsomol. Up to 40% of Russian governors and senior officials, the likes of Minister of Economic Development Maxim Oreshkin and Minister of Communications Nikolay Nikiforov, are new people.

According to Andrey Bystritskiy, an increasingly dynamic Russia is looking for its place in the world that is rapidly transforming. The basis for this transformation is new technologies and a new globalization in which complete sovereignty of a country is impossible. New rules based on interconnectedness make Russia and the outside world highly dependent on each other.

Speaking about the Middle East Andrey Bystritskiy drew parallels between the region today and Russia one hundred years ago in that in both cases we are witnessing the collapse of the traditional society. Russia’s role in the Middle East, according to Andrey Bystritskiy, should be seen through the prism of its ambition to take part in the formation of a new world order.

In this region, Russia looks for the very possibility of international cooperation to solve urgent problems, whose modus operandi could be applied elsewhere if successful. A more active role in Middle Eastern affairs meets the needs of the Russian population. A new political nation that is developing in Russia seeks self-identification and self-awareness. It looks to answer the question of where its boundaries are and what role it plays among peers in the global arena.