The world is changing irreparably and the West is experiencing difficulties in consolidating participants in the international system by rallying against Russia, writes Valdai Club Programme Director Andrey Sushentsov.
In the new international environment, geopolitics is increasingly beginning to determine the structure of economic interaction in the world. We are inside a large long-term political cycle that will be prolonged in different countries, political circles and national elites. There are estimates that the current geopolitical crisis will last at least several years: according to American open sources, top officials have specified a period of 6-7 years. This sets a certain predictability for the development of events, although it does not make the situation simpler.
Just a year ago, business circles in different countries found it difficult to come to terms with the fact that geopolitics now determines the global economy. We have seen vigorous attempts to unite industrialists and entrepreneurs in European countries to challenge the political vector that their government has chosen. In Germany we observed clear public disagreement with this course on the part of individual leaders of particular states, who are interested in interaction with Russia. However, this has not affected the general strategic vector of the German government, which runs counter to the opinion of the country’s own businesses; many believe this is suicidal for the German economy.
In strategic terms, the German government now assumes that strengthening the transatlantic connection and relying on an unconditional alliance with the United States will yield more dividends in the long term. The stake is still on weakening and defeating Russia, and Berlin hopes that as a result of this, a large amount of resources will be freed up and German industry will benefit.
The United States feels comfortable in the current prolonged crisis. Over the past 25 years, the American military budget has always included at least 100-130 billion dollars annually in funding for expeditionary military operations. By the time the military operation in Afghanistan ended, the opportunity presented itself to spend these resources in a fairly economical way from the point of view of saving American lives.
In addition to the obvious disengagement between Russia and Western countries, American control over its allies on the European continent is being strengthened. While containing Russia, Americans are making efforts to contain China by building relationships with neighbouring countries in the Pacific. Beijing views American pressure on China more as a demonstration of readiness than as a real desire to completely disorganise US-Chinese ties. This does not prevent the Americans from taking rather sharp and defiant steps, not only of a demonstrative nature, as in relation to Taiwan, but also from the creation of bilateral and multilateral military-political groups with China’s neighbours.
From the perspective of Russian interests, the most alarming are the ongoing Indian-Chinese contradictions. The stability of the entire Eurasian continent will depend on relations in the Russia-India-China triangle, and it is in the interests of Russian diplomacy to ensure that this triangle is uniform and stable. However, the ongoing apprehension between India and China, which Westerners fully understand and exploit, remains a point of tension. It must be noted that it did not outweigh the perception that economic cooperation with India and China and the impulses of sovereign autonomous strategic action on the world stage that they represented, made the BRICS attractive to countries seeking autonomy to join.
The recent expansion of BRICS at the height of geopolitical contradictions in Europe and growing problems between China and the United States confirms the high status and importance of this organisation. BRICS has not yet emerged as a multilateral organisation with its own charter, regulations, and binding decisions for all members. However, it has become an influential club in which parallel, alternative or complementary solutions are discussed and developed for an increasingly complex international environment, where sanctions are becoming another type of trade barrier.
We see a strengthening of the autonomy of large countries that want to get their own share of the “winning pie” in this confrontation, separate from the West. We see independent behaviour of Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE, which are no longer guided solely by the logic of their military alliances with the United States. We see Iran, which, despite numerous and prolonged restrictions, has managed to confidently position itself industrially and strengthen its autonomy. Developing states in Asia, Africa, and Latin America often act opportunistically, but do not accept the general logic of the West, in which the Ukrainian crisis is supposed to be perceived as a conflict that defines the 21st century. However, non-Western states, with interests which are different from those of Europe and the United States, are ready to come up with their own ideas about how this crisis should be resolved.
This is a completely successful development of events, since the West lost its bet that the whole world would unite against Russia. The world is changing irreparably and the West is experiencing difficulties in consolidating participants in the international system by rallying against Russia.