RUSSIA FORUM BUZZ. Foreign Policy: Towards a New Security Architecture

The panel concluded in an optimistic vein, with the idea that the threats would not spill over into open conflict, as there is a lot of overlapping interests.

Andrew Kuchins: The war between Russia and Georgia was the most significant event in Eurasia since the dissolution of the Soviet Union. We are now looking to create a new system. The global balance of power is shifting thanks to the rise of the BRIC countries and this will change the way the world is run. So we move from the unipolar to a multipolar world. Post 9-11, the main goal globally is to prevent nuclear weapons falling into the hands of terrorists. The change in the institutions of power has not kept up with the change in economic power, and the question is how to get there. Russia will likely join NATO one day.

Sir Anthony Brenton: Lots of predictions of a cold war are nonsense, as the conditions are just not there. The blocks do not have the same power and there are not the same ideological differences. However Russia is not following the Western path. There is a mismatch of perceptions; Russia has a more traditional view of the role of its foreign office and operates in a 19th-century manner. As a result we have had a series of arguments over Russia that got out of hand. Russia’s use of energy as a tool of politics is unhelpful. The West misjudged Russia over Georgia, however. We have scope for cooperation in Afghanistan, but it is hard to build trust. In recessions, politics often get worse as politicians appeal to the nationalist parts of their populations, so we are in for a difficult few years.

Alexander Kamarenko: A new cold war is nonsense. The key issue is one of mistrust. A rebalancing of the relationship between Russia and the West is going on. Ideology is being taken out of international relations.

Christopher Granville: The world is not going to slide into 1930’s style chaos, as it was inoculated by the disasters of the 1930’s, and to believe this is to fall into lazy thinking. The time of greatest economic crisis is the time when state actors will cast aside their differences for the sake of stability. The Russian authorities are not concerned with changing the status quo dramatically, as they have a successful middle-income state. However, failed states and poor governments may seek to take advantage of the economic chaos.

Sergei Karaganov: Russian policy is not revanchist but modern and fitting with the spirit of the times. Land once more is the key to control. The US stopped playing the role of an effective leader. The G20 is too diverse. Russia has enough resources to stand on its own if necessary. Russia and the West can once more work well together, but the interests of Russia must be respected. Relations between Russia and the West are around the worst they have been, but this can be improved by small steps until Russia resumes its natural place at the heart of Europe.

Paul Wolfowitz: The danger is that the economic crisis leads to a political one. We are entering into a major crisis and trough, but the lessons of history are that we will get through this. Russia has come a long way in 17 years and this conference is a reflection of this. The global system’s key role is to keep the great powers apart and to keep down the spread of nuclear weapons, and it has been doing this. President Barack Obama will place more emphasis on diplomacy, but this is not a radical change to what Bush did. The new administration will hope to get more cooperation from Russia. There are common interests for the US and Russia in the Far East and Central Asia, and arguably in the Middle East, as well as a desire for stability in Europe. Russia has a European destiny. Stability in Europe may come under pressure from the financial crisis. There are threats from protectionism as well.

Lanxin Xiang: China is the world’s most conservative great power. China is merely returning to its natural state as the center of the world economy. The issue is the waning of the power of the Christian world. Chinese values are highly compatible with the West, and China is adopting a more European approach to international relations with a multi-lateral approach. For the first time in the history of Eurasia, there are no great power conflicts. The Chinese, unlike the US, have never written off Russia and the relationship now is the best it has ever been. The West will only understand China through Russia.


Andrew Kuchins, Director for Russia and Eurasia, Centre for Strategic Studies
Sir Anthony Brenton, Former British Ambassador to Russia, UK Foreign Office
Christopher Granville, Managing Director, Trusted Sources
Sergey Karaganov, Chairman, Council of Foreign Defense Policy
Alexander Kramarenko, Foreign Policy Planning Department Director, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation
Paul Wolfowitz, Ambassador, Visiting Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, previously President of the World Bank and US Deputy Secretary of Defense
Lanxin Xiang, Professor, International History and Politics, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies

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