By Tatyana Tallerova (Russia)
Last year Russia not only managed to establish and consolidate its positions at the international arena, but also set the foundation for the further growth of the state authority in 2011. The most important event was the creation of the Customs Eurasian Economic Union of Russia, Byelorussia and Kazakhstan. Thus the first step towards the next integration stage was made. The latter would be the approval of international agreements at the meeting of three national leaders — they would make up the legal ground for the united economic space of these three states featuring free exchange of commodities, services, capital and the labor force. It is to remain open for the other countries to join up. Changes of the principal documents that the Council of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) has approved have yet increased its efficiency — including the crisis resistance — and confirmed once again that CSTO is needed at the post-Soviet space as the key structure of collective security.
Past year went on under the banner of Russo-American relationship reset. Its most significant result was the signing of the START, which is supposed to be effective for the next 10 years and to become the ground for the contemporary international collective security system. Solemn ceremony of its signing took place in Prague on the 8th of April and by the end of year it was ratified by American Сongressmen — now it is going through the similar procedure in Russian parliament. This important step — intended to improve global security — is significant not only for the countries that signed it, but for an entire international community as well. As Russian Minister of Foreign Policy Sergey Lavrov put it: “…from now on START is a ‘golden standard’ for such treaties”.
Successful visit of President Dmitry Medvedev to the USA perfectly fitted the “reset” background — during that visit he signed or stipulated quite a number of important inter-governmental agreements, which are of great importance for both countries. For example, we may ascribe the innovation partnership agreements here, treaties concerning the strategic stability and fight against terrorism. Document known as “Nuclear treaty 123” — essentially important for Russia — was returned to the Congress and then signed. It created opportunities for the joint work in the field of nuclear technologies and stipulated their exchange. There’s a quite characteristic fact — Western media describe this treaty as a major Russian success, while the domestic Russian experts pretend to miss this achievement. Mind that we’re talking about new technologies, development of next-generation reactors, including the low-powered (fast-neutrons-based and the high-temperature) ones.
We may definitely state that the “reset” of Russo-American relationship is more than real. By now neither “espionage”, nor any other scandals — boosted by the opponents of the thaw — managed to bring any negative results.
Certain changes in the Russo-European relationship took place as well. Russia approached the EU in general and its certain members in particular. We should then note the started “thaw” in the relations with Great Britain, whose new government expressed willingness to correct the mistakes of its predecessors. And even although yet another “espionage” scandal took place “just in time” and the desire for closer relationship was just voiced up orally, it’s still a good thing to know that “good intentions” are at least officially declared to be the political aims.
We should also single out an unprecedented improvement of Russo-Polish relationship. During all the last years there were quite a number of discords between our countries and it seemed that the mutual understanding was lost forever. However, April tragedy near Smolensk where Polish President Lech Kaczyński died — he was coming to Russia to honor the memory of Polish officers murdered near Katyn — allowed to do what politicians have been failing to do for years. Poles appreciated the friendly empathy, sympathy for their grief and help that Russia rendered — all this allowed Moscow and Warsaw to finally approach each other. December visit of President Dmitry Medvedev to Poland established the policy intended to improve the relationship with our neighbor.
Summits in Deauville, Lisbon and Brussels that followed one another in the second half of the year have been an indicator of successful Russian policy in Europe. It was announced that Russia and the Euro-Union were initiating the “Partnership for modernization” program, creating the Russia-EU committee on the issues of foreign policy and security. We were also to coordinate our positions on the issue of Russian WTO membership.
Cooperation between Russia and NATO, suspended after the 08/08/08 conflict was scheduled to be started again in Lisbon. NATO General Secretary Fogh Rasmussen took the lead, having invited Medvedev to the summit and offered him partnership in the field of European BMD construction. Summit allowed to mark the “guidelines for starting the partnership, based in the principles of security indivisibility, mutual trust, transparency and predictability”. For the first time in modern history we’ve managed to agree on the joint declaration, which stipulated that from now on the sides posed no threat to each other and were to work together in order to create an integral space of peace, safety and stability in the Euro-Atlantic zone. Despite the certain difference of the outlooks, all three summits have confirmed the understanding that Euro-Atlantic security should be integral and the international mechanisms system in that area need to be updated.
Old conflict between Russia and Norway was settled and the sides have signed an agreement, dividing the naval spaces and stipulating partnership in the Barents Sea and the Arctic Ocean. This agreement promotes the improvement of general atmosphere of Russo-Norwegian relations, having a positive impact on the entire situation in the Extreme North and makes up a sign of trust and mutual understanding in the region. Russia continued the policy of keeping Arctic the zone of peace, stability and broad international partnership, according to the Ilulissat Declaration of 2008, concluded by the five coastal Arctic states, and demonstrated its commitment to the peaceful settlement of all disputes, based on the international legislation, including the UN Convention on naval rights.
Success also followed Russian efforts in its Far East policy. Russia is a Pacific country and the events in that area are of no less importance for it. That’s why President Medvedev took part in three international meetings of that region: the November G20 summit in Seoul, second Russia-ASEAN summit in Hanoi and the APEC summit in Yokohama. During the Seoul summit the specific plan of actions, aimed at successful realization of framework agreement on steady and balanced economic growth of G20 countries was approved. G20 members have also decided to re-allot the 6% IMF quota to the rapidly developing countries. Besides that, countries have also adopted the plan of Global Financial Security Network creation, they’ve reached consensus on development in the name of mutual growth and regulation at the international financial markets; they’ve re-established the need of holding that forum as the guarantee of stable and steady global economic development.
New stage of cooperation with ASEAN was scheduled. During the summit sides have decided to work out and start bringing to life the “road maps” on specific cooperation directions, aimed at the long-term partnership programs. Russia also joined the Eastern-Asian Summits (EAC) mechanism.
During the APEC summit in Yokohama, country-members consolidated their approaches towards the improvement of economic integration and approved the APEC Strategy in the field of development. The goal of the latter is the balanced, steadfast, all-embracing, innovational and safe economic growth in the post-crisis period.
Dmitry Medvedev’s visit to India was also quite successful. During it the parties emphasized the high level of strategic partnership between the two countries, signed numerous economic and political mutually beneficial agreements.
Russo-Chinese relationship also developed dynamically and reached rather high level. During the year six meetings between the heads of states took place; different ministries and governmental bodies have met on a different level a lot of times. Russia and the PRC effectively cooperated at the international arena — within the framework of various global organizations. Thanks to the joint Russo-Chinese initiative and support of other UN members, serious conflict at the Korean Peninsula between two Koreas was successfully settled. The past year was also the year of Chinese language in Russia. Yet another event with excessive long-term consequences — that Russian journalists somehow missed — is the end of ESPO pipeline construction. The latter was the largest project of bilateral economic cooperation and is essentially important for the Russian energetic security, differentiation of the oil supplies and reduces Russian dependence from Europe. It is expected that within next 20 years approximately 300 million tons of oil would be annually supplied to the PRC via this pipeline. As Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin mentioned at its opening, ESPO is a “considerable competitor for the European route”.
Russia extended its interaction with Republic of Korea, Singapore, Vietnam and Japan — even despite the Japanese demarches, caused by the visit of Russian President to the Kurile Islands. Great prospects of Russo-Vietnamese partnership have become obvious after the visit of Dmitry Medvedev with and a respectable delegation to Vietnam in the end of October — they’ve reached and signed many important agreements. Thus, Russia improved its connections with the countries of Asian-Pacific Region (APR). Altogether the latter have become a powerful economic centre and this is an incentive, capable of promoting the further modernization of Russian Far East. Russia managed to reach qualitative enlivening and actual progress in its mutually beneficial cooperation with the states of Middle East, Africa and Latin America. We have to mark out the further development of relations with Venezuela and Turkey, which, in fact, turned into loyal Russian ally.
In February new military doctrine of Russian Federation was adopted and new principles of Russian security and foreign policy were approved — they were worked out with a glance at the current situation in the world and the existing state of things at the transitional stage of the global development during the emergence of multilateral world. It foresees the right to use nuclear weapon in reply to the use of nuclear weapon and other weapons of mass destruction against it and its allied. Nuclear counter-strike is also claimed possible as a response to the large-scale aggression using the conventional arms if the very existence of Russia is threatened.
Solemn ceremonies dedicated to the 65th anniversary of the victory over fascism — which were held in our country and abroad — and the special sitting of the UN General Assembly also caused great international reaction. That was an important political signal sent to the future — to everyone who may try to review the resumes of the Second World War and the USSR contribution into the victory over fascism. It also countered the speculations on and purposeful falsifications of the contemporary history. Celebration of the Victory Day anniversary in Moscow showed all the world role and importance of Russia as the factor of stability and peaceful cooperation at the post-Soviet space.
Scandal with the WikiLeaks revelations that burst out by the end of the year was unable to cause any significant troubles for Russia. Answering the journalists’ questions, President Medvedev said that top Russian authorities are not interested in the estimates of domestic Russian affairs, given in the published cables: “We more or less don’t care about diplomatic estimates of the internal processes in our country. These are just the opinions. What really matters is what takes place in real life”. Sergey Lavrov dubbed these cables to be a “curious fiction”. Nevertheless, Medvedev mentioned the certain “cynicism” of American diplomats that they demonstrate in the exposed correspondence.
Despite the certain cool-down in Russo-Iranian relationship and our refusal to sell Iran the S-300 complexes, vector of Russian actions is still aimed at the politically-diplomatic solution of problem. Russia stood up against toughening of sanctions against Republic of Iran that the West was intensively offering to impose. Mostly by doing this, it managed to save the trust of its southern neighbor. As a proof of that, Iranian ambassador Seyed Reza Sajadi recently stated in Moscow: “Since the very beginning Russia and China held a sensible attitude towards Iran…We expect Moscow and Beijing to play the same role during the sitting in Istanbul, having added more common sense, logic and fairness. I hope that they recommend West to leave its aggressive and offensive approach towards our integral rights — that usually ruled over these sittings — behind. Hopefully, using the fair and realistic approach, Russia and China would make the West recognize the rights of Republic of Iran”.
After the February Ukrainian election and the revanche of the Party of Regions, new authorities set the new priorities — to re-establish the Russo-Ukrainian connections, suffered from the Yushchenko rule. Thanks to that, there were no Orange-era-like “gas wars” in the beginning of the year. Russo-Ukrainian relationship was “reset” as well and leader of our countries managed to achieve essentially important results: Kharkov agreements were signed, for example. They’ve solve the issue of gas prices and the matter of the Black Sea fleet being deployed in Sevastopol. They’ve also allowed concluding new mutually beneficial economic contracts and restoring old ones.
The most important event was the creation of the Customs Eurasian Economic Union of Russia, Byelorussia and Kazakhstan. Thus the first step towards the next integration stage was made. The latter would be the approval of international agreements at the meeting of three national leaders — they would make up the legal ground for the united economic space of these three states featuring free exchange of commodities, services, capital and the labor force. It is to remain open for the other countries to join up. Changes of the principal documents that the Council of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) has approved have yet increased its efficiency — including the crisis resistance — and confirmed once again that CSTO is needed at the post-Soviet space as the key structure of collective security. Caspian summit in Baku was successfully held. During it the framework agreement of cooperation on the security issues in the Caspian Sea was signed. It creates the legal ground for development of actual cooperation between the authorized bodies of 5 countries (including Iran) in counteraction to the new challenges and threats and intended to secure the navigation in the Caspian Sea.
Thanks to the Russian efforts and safety guarantees, all the sides of Nagorno-Karabakh and Transdniestrian conflicts still stick to the peaceful settlement of all disputes and the peaceful reconstruction of South Ossetia and Abkhazia are still under way.
Thus, we may state that during the last year Russia not only managed to establish and consolidate its positions at the international arena, but also set the foundation for the further growth of the state authority in 2011.