President Vladimir Putin met with his Security Council via video conference on March 31, 2023. At the end of this meeting, he promulgated an update of the "Foreign Policy Concept of the Russian Federation".
In this document, Russia sets out its vision of its role in building a multipolar world.
First of all, Russia recalls its significant resources in all spheres of life, its status as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, its participation in major international organizations and associations, its nuclear power and its status as the successor in rights of the USSR. Above all, given its decisive contribution to the victory in World War II and its active participation in the liquidation of the world system of colonialism, it asserts itself as one of the sovereign centers of world development and considers as its historical mission the maintenance of the global balance of power and the construction of a multipolar international system.
DEVELOPMENTS IN THE CONTEMPORARY WORLD
Russia observes that the inequitable model of global development, which for centuries ensured the accelerated economic growth of colonial powers by appropriating the resources of their colonies, is now a thing of the past.
Attempts are being made by the Anglo-Saxons to hold back "the natural course of history". A wide range of illegal instruments are employed, including the application of "unilateral coercive measures" (misleadingly referred to as "sanctions"), the incitement of coups, armed conflicts, threats, blackmail, etc.
The term "Anglo-Saxons" is not used in the document. It is a shortcut that I use in view of the statements of several ministers. Moscow considers that the enemy is primarily the United States, but that they have formed a coalition of hostile states in which the United Kingdom plays a central role.
Russia being the largest country in the world, its army cannot defend its borders. It is easy to invade. Throughout history, Russia has learned to defeat invaders by using its vast space and climate to its advantage. It has fought the armies of Napoleon I and Adolf Hitler, but has mostly burned its own territory to starve them out. In the absence of nearby rear bases, they had to retreat and were finished off by "General Winter". Unlike other countries, the security of Russia implies that no hostile army can be massed on its borders.
Seeing Russia’s strengthening as a threat to Western hegemony, the United States and its satellites used the measures taken by the Russian Federation to protect its vital interests in Ukraine as a pretext to exacerbate their long-standing anti-Russian policy and to start a new kind of hybrid war. By vital interests, we should understand the subordination of the Ukrainian military to the Pentagon after the 2014 coup.
Interests and Goals of Russia
Russia’s national interests are, quote:
1) the protection of the constitutional order, sovereignty, independence, territorial and state integrity of the Russian Federation against destructive foreign influence ;
2) maintenance of strategic stability, strengthening of international peace and security;
3) strengthening the legislative framework of international relations;
4) protection of the rights, freedoms and legitimate interests of Russian citizens and protection of Russian organizations from unlawful foreign interference
5) development of a safe information space, protection of Russian society from foreign informational and psychological influence when it is destructive;
6) preservation of the Russian people, development of human potential, increase in the quality of life and well-being of its citizens;
7) support of sustainable development of the Russian economy on a new technological basis;
8) strengthening of traditional Russian spiritual and moral values, preservation of cultural and historical heritage of the multinational people of the Russian Federation;
9) environmental protection, preservation of natural resources and environmental management, adaptation to climate change.
The goals of Russia’s foreign policy are, quote:
1) the establishment of an equitable and sustainable world order;
2) maintenance of international peace and security, strategic stability, ensuring peaceful coexistence and progressive development of states and peoples;
3) assisting in the development of effective complex responses of the international community to common challenges and threats, including regional conflicts and crises;
4) development of mutually beneficial and equal rights cooperation with all foreign states with a constructive attitude and their alliances, ensuring that Russian interests are taken into account in the framework of institutions and mechanisms of multilateral diplomacy;
5) opposition to anti-Russian activity of some foreign states and their alliances, creation of conditions for stopping such activity
6) establishment of good-neighborly relations with neighboring states, assistance in prevention and elimination of hotbeds of tension and conflicts on their territories;
7) assistance to Russia’s allies and partners in promoting common interests, ensuring their security and sustainable development regardless of their international recognition and membership in international organizations
8) releasing and strengthening the potential of multilateral regional associations and integration structures with the participation of Russia;
9) strengthening of Russia’s positions in the world economy, achievement of national development goals of the Russian Federation, ensuring economic security, realization of the state’s economic potential
10) promotion of Russia’s interests in the world ocean, outer space and air space;
11) formation of the objective image of Russia abroad, strengthening of its positions in the global information space;
12) strengthening the importance of Russia in the global humanitarian space, strengthening the position of the Russian language in the world, helping to preserve the historical truth and memory of Russia’s role in world history abroad;
13) comprehensive and effective defense of the rights, freedoms and legal interests of Russian citizens and organizations abroad (Russia has always considered itself the protector of minorities of Russian culture abroad)
14) development of relations with compatriots living abroad and comprehensive assistance to them in realizing their rights, protecting their interests and preserving the general Russian cultural identity.
RULE OF LAW
Contemporary international law was created at the Hague Conference (1899). It was convened by the last tsar, Nicholas II. 27 states participated. It was devoted to "seeking the most effective means of securing for all peoples the benefits of a real and lasting peace". It lasted 72 days.
Three topics were discussed, but only the last two were successful:
limitation of armaments, manpower and military budgets;
the establishment of conventions aimed at reducing, in time of war, the use of the most deadly weapons and unnecessary suffering (the Conference adopted the Martens clause, according to which everything that is not expressly forbidden by a treaty is not inasmuch authorized. It thus laid the foundations of International Humanitarian Law and justified the existence of the Nuremberg Tribunal);
the recognition, for cases that lend themselves to it, of the principle of arbitration (it created the Permanent Court of Arbitration of The Hague on a French proposal).
The French delegation distinguished itself. It included Léon Bourgeois, Paul d’Estournelles de Constant and Louis Renault, three future Nobel Peace Prize winners.
This conference introduced two innovations:
the legal equality between States, whatever they may be;
the search for compromise and a unanimous vote as a source of legitimacy.
The method of this conference, which Russia has always respected, constitutes its way of thinking (and that of the Leon Bourgeois French radicals). Moscow considers that it finds its current expression in the United Nations Charter (1945) and in the Declaration on Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and Cooperation among States in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations (1970).
In opposition to International Law, defined collectively within the UN, the West is trying to substitute a set of "rules", defined by them in the absence of all others. Only the combined good faith efforts of the entire international community, based on a balance of powers and interests, can effectively ensure the peaceful and progressive development of large and small states.
In the March 31 document, Russia recalls that its special military operation in Ukraine is authorized by Article 51 of the UN Charter. It refers to the planned attack by the Ukrainian government on the Donbass, and has since published one of the texts annotated by the Ukrainian chiefs of staff. It is therefore understandable that the recognition of the Donbass republics as independent states allied with Russia (on the eve of the special operation) was a necessary condition for the application of Article 51.
It is about establishing contractual relations between states, knowing that the strongest will always be able to violate its word and destroy the weakest. It must therefore be accompanied by guarantees designed to discourage those in a position of strength from abusing it. These guarantees can only be convincing if Russia, like the others, has free access to the world’s spaces, including space, and if mechanisms to prevent the arms race are put in place.
DESCRIPTION OF THE MULTIPOLAR WORLD
Moscow approaches the multipolar world through a cultural vision of the world. It intends to maintain relations with all cultures and to encourage each of them to create intergovernmental organizations.
It states that, while it asks nearby states not to host troops and military bases of hostile states in their countries, it is willing to help them stabilize. This includes helping them to suppress destabilization manoeuvres undertaken by hostile states at home. It is not a matter of watching helplessly as other countries follow the Ukrainian path and overthrow elected authorities with the help of neo-Nazi groups.
The document attaches great importance to strengthening cooperation with China and coordination with its international action. It is therefore a question of giving birth to a multipolar world, but delivered by two midwives, Moscow and Beijing. On the military level, Moscow mentions its strategic partnership with India.
A particular passage deals with the Islamic world, which is emerging from Western domination with the victory in Syria and the peace agreement between Iran and Saudi Arabia.
As for Western Europe, Moscow hopes that it will realize its mistakes and detach itself from the Anglo-Saxons. Until then, it is wary not only of NATO, but also of the European Union and the Council of Europe
Russia does not position itself as an enemy of the West, does not isolate itself from it, has no hostile intentions towards it, and hopes that in the future the states belonging to the Western community will realize the futility of their confrontational policy and will rally to the principles of sovereign equality and respect for mutual interests. It is in this context that the Russian Federation is ready for dialogue and cooperation.
Russia’s policy towards the United States has a dual character, taking into account, on the one hand, the role of this state as one of the influential sovereign centers of world development, among others, and on the other hand, as an inspirer, organizer and essential implementer of the aggressive anti-Russian policy of the West, which is a source of essential risks for the security of the Russian Federation, international peace, balanced, equitable and progressive development of mankind.