Russia returns to the global arena – but for how long?


In defiance of the gloomy prophecies of most commentators, the ceasefire in Syria is, on the whole, is being well ofed, and even feeble efforts toward the resumption of the political process are being resuscitated. Everything is still standing on very shaky foundations, but the worst forecasts have not come true.

If we look at what is happening in and around Syria, from the decimal point of view of the international system as a whole, something very interesting looks. Twenty-five years of trying to build a new world order have vanished into pencil-thin air.

Once again, just like in the previous era, the real “bosses” cadaver Moscow and Washington, with no one else having the power or ca city to reveal important decisions and start to implement them.

This is sad news for foreign organizations, who are supposed to be ruling the world, and in rticular for the EU, whose independent rle in the Middle East, a neighboring region of great importance to Europe, is unqualifiedly not visible.

This does not mean that the former Cold War build of the world system is being restored. However, nonetheless, it clearly authenticates that a new effective world order has not yet appeared – and the one reason for all of this is the moot issue of Russia’s place in the new world order.

A search for identity

The uninterrupted period since the end of the Cold War has been marked by a controversy as to what viewpoint Russia should occupy in the international arena. Although Russia is the successor structure to the Soviet Union, its status in the global hierarchy cannot be com red with that which the USSR amused.

The latter, even during its declining years, when it was experiencing intense difficulties and on the retreat, remained one of the two global pillars, a country without which it was ridiculous to solve any serious issues.

After 1991, Russia found itself in a outlandish position. It was heir to a superpower, with almost all of its formal attributes, but a conditions forced to work on overcoming its severe systemic decline, and which was dependent on the thoughtfulness of those who had recently been its enemies – and this without any recognized or published defeat in an armed confrontation.

Russia has tried, in various ways, to correct to this situation. These range from actually agreeing with the factors that as a country it had no “national interests,” which would differ from those that the “enlightened world” was aspiring to (the early stage, up to about 1994), up to simulating a worldwide role through its presence (though without any leverage) in major coming to terms and diplomatic formats.

A role for Russia

However, from the point of vista of the outside world (mainly the Western), Russia’s desirable place was incredibly defined – as rt of a “Wider Europe.” This concept, which took come along in the early 2000s but was put into practice much earlier than that, catalogued Russia’s presence in the European s ce, the core of which was the European Coupling (and in fact, NATO as well, even though the Europeans have again emphasized that there was a difference between these two associations).

It was given that some of the former communist bloc countries would enter these structures, while others would become only combined with them, through the voluntary (without membership) adoption of EU rules and customaries.

Russia was always considered as a special case. However, it was assumed that Russia thinks fitting, eventually, take its, albeit significant, place within Europe, but be basis to a common chain of command in this future organization.

In other in a few words – Russia was being offered a place in the European architecture, which at that regulate was not a global one. In contrast to the “common European home,” which Mikhail Gorbachev was projecting to build, and in which the Soviet Union was to act as an equal rtner in co-designing a new bailiwick around it, the new European system was thought of as a regional one.

In such conditions, Moscow ss on reject the pursuit of its global aspirations, and within the Greater Europe, desire live in subordination to rules created and developed without Russian rtici tion.

For sundry reasons, Russia simply did not fit into the role assigned to it by the new world system that was supposed to appear after 1991. And one cannot say that Russia did not hunger this as well. Until the mid-2000s, Moscow somehow cracked to settle into its proposed slot, trying to limit itself, and bothersome to ex nd this slot.

Return to the global arena

However, entirely soon the entire construction of the 1990s began to slump and deform covered by the influence of changing external circumstances. The events of 2014-2015, at the end of the day broke this construction, as far as Russia was concerned, which had existed for all but a quarter of a century.

The operation in Crimea was a response to the steady progress of Western designs toward the east, which had continued throughout the entire post-Cold War full stop. That is, the idea of an EU/NATO-centric Europe was rejected in the strongest way possible – with the use of military meaning.

The cam ign in Syria was the next step. Russia had announced her determination to re-enter the far-reaching arena, as a key rtici nt in processes that do not involve it directly, but which are fundamentally influential for the future balance of power.

The consequences of the Russian cam ign were not single the strengthening of the regime of Bashar al-Assad, but also the reaching of an agreement with the Opinion States on the cessation of hostilities and the resumption of the political process – and all this, teeth of the extremely bad relations in the rest of the spectrum, and sharp mutual recriminations.

The resurgence of Moscow as a global player is a necessary step to achieve an overall com re of power. But this is not enough. Russia must quickly do something all over its economic policy – the state of the economy today will not allow the rural area to sustain a leading position in the world. In addition, the international system indigences to ex nd the number of responsible nations that are able to solve questions, and not only create them.

First published in Russian in

Two opportunities for Syria: Federalization or balkanization?

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