Fyodor Lukyanov is the main editor of the magazine “Russia in global politics”. He believes in the return of diplomacy and through “Novaya Gazeta” gives an optimistic forecast for resolving the Syrian conflict and the normalization of relations between Russia and the West.
Originally appeared at a-specto, translated by Borislav exclusively for SouthFront
The Syrian conflict in which Russia is involved to the max as an external force, will not end soon. Officially announced there are three coalitions, led by the US, led by Russia and under the direction of Saudi Arabia. Moreover, if for Russia, USA and France, the main enemy is designated as Islamic State, then for Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iran the pursued objectives are different, not completely coinciding with the objectives of forces foreign to the region. Everything became very entangled and to me the possibility of Russia getting out of the conflict seems unrealistic: on what basis and how to get out after we became involved so deeply? Needed is achieving results: either a military victory, which seems unlikely, or achieving greater political agreement on how Syria will be arranged, will it remain a unitary state, will there be federalization, or a confederation, etc.
It does not seem that the conflict with Turkey has disappeared completely: words were spoken from which there is no coming back – the president of Turkey is practically declared a criminal, assistant to the terrorists. Hardly believable is that after everything so far, the situation can return on the course of peace. Until the regime in Turkey is not changed, there will be no contact with it.
Europe is changing: it’s in a serious crisis that requires a reassessment of foreign policy and to my knowledge, there is now work on a new concept for the EU’s external behavior. Europe began to deal not with expansion, not with transformation of the neighboring areas, which was the purpose so far, but with their stabilization so they do not cause these problems. Now among the Europeans a fear grows before the changes in society that lead in the direction to non uniformity and diversity, and although this process is long running, the people, as before, are not ready for it. And because of mass migration from the Middle East, this process is accelerated. Besides this, the threat of terrorism is also felt. The electorate is turning right and even those European parties that have traditionally been moderate, will move to the right. As a result, Europe will close itself in it’s internal problems even more so.
In connection with this, stabilization of relations with Russia could become a more current undertaking and the issue of sanctions will be placed in a more constructive environment. These relationships will no longer be as they were before, but the sharp conflict and part of the economic constraints may be softened in the second half of 2016, if chaos does not return to Ukraine. As to Ukraine, these kind of conflicts are very sensitive to external influences, and now neither us, or Europe, or America, need to inflame them. Compared with the Middle East, Ukraine is in the periphery of world politics. But the Middle East is no longer in the center either. The majority will occur in Asia, where clarification is pending on how China’s relations with the US will be constructed. Which models will prevail: interdependence and ironing out contradictions at all costs or competition, in which case China due to it’s acceleration, will be met with growing resistance from the US. All this will depend very much on what president America will chose in 2016.
Purely for human reasons, Putin would find it nice if Donald Trump becomes president – that would show in what heavy crisis the American political system finds itself in. But no other president will pursue a better policy towards Russia than Obama, who is actually very careful, demonstrating toughness just for the public. The issue is not that Obama is weak – he just understands better than others that the world has changed and achieving your goals with daring forays will no longer work. Any other more traditional American president might try to return to the habitual methods of hard pressure, demonstration of power.
Americans are tired of the constant external interference of their country. This creates domestic demand for change, but it does not mean that everything will change at once: American political culture is built on the idea of world leadership “a priori”, the only question is just how to accomplish this leadership .
In the cooling between Russia and the US, the issue is not about the personality of Obama, but that there’s a process of deconstruction of the old world institutions such as international law. Each subsequent conflict was becoming ever more dangerous and there came the case with Crimea. Obama would like to build something new, but the burden fell on him to manage the United States at a time, when the old is still in the process of deconstruction. And now, at the end of his presidency, there begins to appear the outlines of the new, the return to business diplomacy. Examples of this are the nuclear deal with Iran, the Minsk process, the negotiations for Syria. Instead of constant arguments and degradation of international relations, looking for common points of interest has began.
After the Cold War the element “good-bad” was infused in diplomacy: “good must win and bad must lose” as well as “you can act with force, otherwise it will not work.” Now we see that the use of force does not work and you need to take into account even the interests of those who are considered bad.
Translation from Russian to Bulgarian: Alexander Stanchev
Source: Novaya Gazeta