Valdai Club experts: Putin offered a broad vision of how he sees Russia’s place in the world
Members of the Valdai Club Advisory Board Alexander Rahr and Piotr Dutkiewicz shared there opinions regarding Vladimir Putin’s article published in the daily Moskovskiye Novosti a week ahead of presidential elections.
Alexander Rahr, Director, Berthold-Beitz-Zentrum, German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP):
Vladimir Putin's article clearly articulates Russia's role in the 21st century world. According to Putin, Russia has become strong enough to stand on her own in world politics. The times of Russia seeking a role as junior partner of the West are over. It is significant that Putin begins his description of Russia's future tasks not with the United States and the EU, but with the conflict-ridden Middle East and Asia. It seems that Putin regards U.S. attempts to restructure the existing world order in line with Western interests as the biggest challenge for Russia's security.
Putin's article is not confrontational. The presidential candidate leaves enough room for cooperation and rapprochement with Western partners. Particularly interesting is his offer to help the EU solve its current eurozone problems. Putin is a believer in the idea of a common European home, which, he is convinced, must be constructed on the foundation of mutually beneficial interests. He scarcely mentions the value conflict which seems to be the main obstacle to a united Europe these days.
The article does not contain any sensational revelations. Putin promises continuity in Russian diplomacy. Russia will fight for a multipolar world order without U.S. dictates, in which Russia works with her Western partners to solve global conflicts.
Piotr Dutkiewicz, Professor of Political Science and Director of the Institute of European and Russian Studies at Carleton University, Canada:
The article by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is frank and topical, and it touches on all aspects of the world system. However, it lacks specific proposals on some issues. This is classic Putin oratory.
To begin with, Putin notes the fragility of international relations. In his opinion, global institutions do not function as they should, and international law is failing in its critical role of coordinator and regulator of international relations. This is exactly why we live in a world that is extremely fragile, unpredictable and rapidly changing. However, I failed to detect in Putin’s article any specific suggestions on what to do about this fragility.
It is clear from the article that Russia is pinning great hopes on relations with Asia, China in particular. This is yet further proof that the world’s economic and political center is shifting towards Asia.
Putin speaks about so-called “soft power” – a term he uses more than once. This is something new. Russia can maintain an effective dialogue with other cultures and civilizations because it is a multi-cultural country and finds it easier to use these ties in order to build international relations than the Americans or the Europeans.
I was impressed by Putin’s understanding of sovereignty, which underpins the majority of conclusions in this article. But this is a 19th-century understanding of sovereignty – when sovereignty was indivisible and referred to a particular country. It does not exist anymore, and Russia will find it difficult to exercise this type of sovereignty in international relations.
It follows from the article that Russia is prepared to discuss with the EU and the United States all aspects of relations with a view to upgrading them to an entirely new level. This proposal is not new, but I don’t think either the EU or the United States have the political will and political force for such a large-scale settlement with Russia. This is why the article lacks any specific proposals that would be easy to implement. The article is an invitation to dialogue and new relations with Russia but does not propose a mechanism for achieving this.
The article makes almost no mention of Russia’s new initiative – the Eurasian Union. The author says nothing about the Customs Union, which I think is crucial in its partnerships. There is no mention of the Eurasian Union’s initiative or Central Asia. This comes as a surprise because this is a natural area of cooperation between Russia, Central Asia and China.
Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise.