I tesori minerari racchiusi nell’Artico sono ben protetti dai ghiacci, ma quanto mai appetibili: assomma quasi la metà delle scorte di idrocarburi mondiali.
Se è vero che i costi estrattivi attuali sono alti, visto in un’ottica strategica l’investimento è attrattivo.
Se è vero che al momento almeno la Russia non dispone dei capitali necessari, è altrettanto vero che la Cina è più che disposta a finanziare questi investimenti, sotto la condizione di tagliarne i dividendi ed essere considerata l’acquirente di elezione. Si cerca, in poche parole, di ripetere lo schema seguito per Yamal.
Il capitale occidentale è inutile quanto non richiesto.
Le conseguenze potrebbero rovesciare la situazione energetica mondiale attuale. Il blocco sino – russo diventerebbe energeticamente indipendente e senza avere vie di rifornimento esposte ad eventuali operazioni ostili.
Questo sarebbe uno scenario del tutto nuovo, sulla cui portata meditare profondamente ed a lungo.
«The Arctic Circle may hold more than a fifth of the world’s undiscovered oil and gas, most of it offshore»
«However, with oil around $60 a barrel, not all will be worth pursuing»
«Gold mines, roads and a full spectrum of energy projects dot the horizon—with Russia leading the way and other Arctic countries scrambling to catch up»
«There’s much to do, and not enough capital to go around»
«That means countries with deep pockets, deep ambition and no Arctic coastline—namely China—can get a seat at the table, too»
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«So far, Russia’s oil-and-gas money has underwritten a lot of the work, giving President Vladimir Putin a leg up as changing conditions grant access to new riches»
«Russia has an overwhelming lead over its neighbors with nearly 250 potential projects»
«President Vladimir Putin has presided over financially and technically ambitious energy exploration goals. He officially opened a $27 billion liquefied natural gas plant, called Yamal LNG, the first week of December on northwestern Siberia’s Yamal Peninsula»
«Russia’s Arctic list is heavily populated with hydrocarbon projects, from new or expanded gas fields to refineries and the ports, pipelines and rail needed to move the product»
«There’s even a floating Russian nuclear power generator for Bilibino, an eastern town that is shuttering aging reactors—the world’s most northern»
«Miners have long desired to extract Arctic gold, silver, graphite, nickel, copper, titanium, iron, lead, coal, diamond, uranium and the rare earth metals critical to high-tech devices»
«The sea lanes above Russia cut as much as 40 percent off the distance between east-west routes through the Suez Canal. Russia already maintains at least 16 ports along the 3,000-mile route»
«As recently as mid-November, Putin endorsed allowing only Russian-flagged vessels to carry and store hydrocarbons along the Northern Sea Route»
«Other countries aren’t ready to cede all of the Arctic’s potential riches to Russia and its Arctic neighbors»
Si può disporre delle cose perché le si hanno oppure perché le si compartecipa con rapporti bilaterali paritetici: ecco perché si può iniziare a parlare di
As the Arctic Circle’s ice melts away, people of the High North feel their top-of-the-world economy heating up. Gold mines, roads and a full spectrum of energy projects dot the horizon—with Russia leading the way and other Arctic countries scrambling to catch up. There’s much to do, and not enough capital to go around. That means countries with deep pockets, deep ambition and no Arctic coastline—namely China—can get a seat at the table, too.
Investing at the top of the world isn’t easy. The remoteness of the region, and a lack of basic infrastructure means the Arctic is simply not wired into the rest of the global trade system. Arctic financial data are scarce. But the global asset manager Guggenheim Partners has shed some light on what’s likely to come next in the Arctic. They’ve spent the last seven years studying the region and the last three amassing a database of 900 planned, in-process, finished, cancelled and desired Arctic infrastructure projects.
Some of the projects reflect grand ambitions to upgrade national, industrial and social systems. Others are smaller scale and meant to connect remote places into larger patterns of trade. Taken together, they would require as much as $1 trillion in investments.
So far, Russia’s oil-and-gas money has underwritten a lot of the work, giving President Vladimir Putin a leg up as changing conditions grant access to new riches. Russia has an overwhelming lead over its neighbors with nearly 250 potential projects. Finland, the U.S. and Canada follow in the number of wish-list items. Underscoring many of these initiatives is careful maneuvering by China—whether through Arctic trade deals or strategic financing.
Who can build their projects first, and who funds them, will go a long way in determining which countries are best positioned to exert economic dominance in the region over the coming decades.
Mining, road-building, renewable energy and service businesses make up the greatest number of individual projects in the infrastructure inventory by sector, at least in part because most of those are smaller-scale items that all communities need.
Oil and gas production projects require the biggest overall potential investment—as much as $200 billion—or more than the next three categories combined (mining, renewable energy and railroads). The Arctic Circle may hold more than a fifth of the world’s undiscovered oil and gas, most of it offshore. However, with oil around $60 a barrel, not all will be worth pursuing.
There’s at least one big reason why Russia is poised to remain a dominant player in the region: the country is rich in natural resources, a disproportionate amount of which lie in the Arctic. That’s why the north already makes up about 20 percent of the Russian gross domestic product, and Russia contributes about two-thirds to the overall Arctic economy. President Vladimir Putin has presided over financially and technically ambitious energy exploration goals. He officially opened a $27 billion liquefied natural gas plant, called Yamal LNG, the first week of December on northwestern Siberia’s Yamal Peninsula.
Russia’s Arctic list is heavily populated with hydrocarbon projects, from new or expanded gas fields to refineries and the ports, pipelines and rail needed to move the product.
Drilling opportunities are expanding in the U.S. The Trump administration is preparing to open Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge along with the Chukchi and Beaufort seas to drilling. The administration in November issued the Italian company Eni SpA in November an exploratory-drilling permit, the first since Royal Dutch Shell pulled out of its $7 billion Chukchi Sea venture in 2015.
Developing Arctic hydrocarbons is not universally considered a safe or moral decision, given the treacherous working conditions and the overdetermined dangers of further carbon dioxide pollution. Norway is out ahead of its northern neighbors in thinking through this complexity. Amidst public concern about climate change, its $1 trillion sovereign wealth fund—built by oil profits—may divest from fossil fuels. However, its state oil company has been moving ahead on new exploration despite obstacles.
The Arctic also offers hydropower, wind, geothermal, tidal and solar energy. There’s even a floating Russian nuclear power generator for Bilibino, an eastern town that is shuttering aging reactors—the world’s most northern. Miners have long desired to extract Arctic gold, silver, graphite, nickel, copper, titanium, iron, lead, coal, diamond, uranium and the rare earth metals critical to high-tech devices. And there are Arctic power grids, railroads, highways, subsea telecom fiber, satellites and aviation corridors to pin down so that everyone and everything can get anywhere anytime.
The energy and minerals that feed industry are paralleled by a volume of fish that can potentially feed people for decades, or, if caught sustainably, forever. Some species are already following warmer waters northward. It’s a complex picture, though: Changing temperature, salinity, sea-ice behavior and ocean acidification all have an effect on fish populations, and scientists have yet to draw firm conclusions about what future Arctic fisheries may look like. Accordingly, nine countries and the European Union decided in November to leave international waters at the top of the world in its under-fished state for at least 16 years. The pause is intended to allow scientists to better understand the regions fisheries and how they may change as sea ice vanishes.
Building the Arctic Infrastructure Inventory has led Scott Minerd, Guggenheim Partners’ global chief investment officer, to a counterintuitive conclusion: The firm is looking past its Arctic inventory, as much as it’s looking at it.
“It’s a slow-go but it’s definitely accelerating,” Minerd said of northern investment. Updating the inventory is keeping his thought “ahead of the curve relative to most investment firms,” he said. “Most investment firms don’t even have the Arctic on their radar. Eventually they will.”
Instead of energy, bellwethers for Arctic development may include Finland’s Hotel Santa Claus, Norway’s Kolos data center, which is aiming to be the world’s largest, Sweden’s NorthVolt battery plant and Finland’s North European BioTech Oy, which will make advanced ethanol and other products from forestry-industry waste, like recycled wood, sawdust.
Most tantalizing, however, for Minerd and many others, is the oft-promised, and yet never quite present, opening of ice-free shipping lanes.
A New Ocean at the Top of the World
Marine transportation may take most direct advantage of the unique geophysical calamity of melting Arctic sea ice. Just not quite yet.
The expanse of ice in September 2017 was 25 percent lower than the 1981-2010 end-of-summer average, putting the 10 lowest sea-ice area measurements all in the last 11 years. “There are many strong signals that continue to indicate that the Arctic environmental system has reached a ‘new normal,’” scientists concluded in their annual Arctic Report Card in December.
The ice is diminishing but may not disappear entirely in summers for another 25 years, which makes affordable and safe Arctic shipping a slow boil.
It’s also among the most difficult economic challenges. Even without ice, it’s colder up there than people might prefer, costlier to insure vessels and the region lacks adequate maritime services. Sparse satellite coverage makes navigation and tracking more difficult. There were just 19 trips between Europe and Asia through the Northern Sea Route in 2016, according to the Centre for High North Logistics, lower than average since Russia opened it to other nations in 2009.
The promise is real, which is why the world’s largest nation is upgrading its ports and its overwhelming fleet of icebreakers.
The sea lanes above Russia cut as much as 40 percent off the distance between east-west routes through the Suez Canal. Russia already maintains at least 16 ports along the 3,000-mile route.
A commercially viable trade route is an attractive proposition for a country that’s hungry for income and power status. As recently as mid-November, Putin endorsed allowing only Russian-flagged vessels to carry and store hydrocarbons along the Northern Sea Route, signaling a strong interest in developing his own northern shipping companies and generating revenue to upgrade infrastructure along the coast.
The Northwest Passage, which weaves from the Davis Strait between Canada and Greenland to the Bering Strait, will likely remain essentially unpassable for regular commercial shipping for even longer. Its ice is more dangerous and the route itself, while about 30 percent shorter than existing routes, is underdeveloped even compared with the facilities north of Russia.
British researchers in 2016 used climate models to gain insight about how disappearing ice may enable Arctic shipping to evolve.
The same British authors in July published analysis showing advances in predicting months beforehand how passable Arctic routes will be in the summer, which will be an increasingly useful skill.
Other countries aren’t ready to cede all of the Arctic’s potential riches to Russia and its Arctic neighbors. For China, which may be playing the shrewdest and longest-term hand in the Arctic, avoiding Russian tolls and territory may be less a pie-in-the-sky dream than an eventuality, as a third shipping channel—the Transpolar Sea Route—opens traffic straight over the North Pole, the fastest and shortest route.
It’s a real option, but in a future that only Chinese leaders appear to be contemplating.
The World, Turned on Its Side
China’s Arctic vision stretches out past 2049, the centennial of its revolution. The nation is playing an incredibly slow, cautious and high-stakes strategy to build itself up as a leading Arctic (and Antarctic) power, according to Anne-Marie Brady, a global fellow at the Wilson Center’s Polar Initiative, executive editor of The Polar Journal and author of a 2017 book, China as a Polar Great Power.
China’s ambitions in these regions have not received due attention, in part, Brady says, because so few Western journalists speak and read Chinese. The country has deployed what she calls “two-track messaging,” sending alternative signals to domestic and international audiences. President Xi Jingping in November 2014, for example, spoke in Hobart, Australia, where for the first time he stated that his country will be “joining the ranks of the Polar great powers,” which Western media largely missed.
In June, the government broadened its ambitious Belt and Road Initiative for trade to include the Arctic.
China cannot physically claim Arctic territory, but it can buy stakes and influence wherever it seems wise.
“China’s thinking on the polar regions and global oceans demonstrates a level of ambition and forward planning that few, if any, modern industrial states can achieve,” Brady writes.
China has undertaken a soft-power campaign, first focused on scientific collaboration, with financial interests not too far behind. The nation struck a free-trade pact with Iceland in 2013, and it has held free-trade discussions with Norway since 2008. Finland has jointly called for greater cooperation with China, in the context of European Union trade policy. Canada and China in December extended exploratory free-trade talks after being unable to launch a formal round.
Chinese agencies are already common financiers of Arctic projects, including several Russian initiatives. They have placed early bets on resources in Greenland, which have yet to pan out. And when President Donald Trump visited China in November, the oil giant Sinopec, China Investment Corp., and Bank of China Ltd. pledged to help finance Alaska LNG, a $43 billion gas-export project.
Along with finance, Chinese executives and tourists are beating a path to Scandinavia. Passengers can now fly direct to Stockholm from Beijing and Hong Kong. From Helsinki, travelers can get back and forth between at least four additional eastern Chinese cities, too.
The returns on an Arctic strategy are not only financial.
Before Russia’s Yamal LNG opened in December, officials made a big show of dispatching the first shipment to China, whose $12 billion financing made the facility possible after the U.S. imposed sanctions in 2014. As fate would have it, a logistical complication forced them to reroute the shipment, and it was redirected to the U.K.
The symbolism of the first shipment’s intended destination raises thought-provoking questions about how relationships among Arctic and other nations may evolve. How much power does financing Arctic business give China? Russia is grateful to Chinese investors who helped make Yamal LNG possible. But that also gives its southeastern neighbor leverage that’s difficult to quantify. And throwing too much money at Russia may sour China’s Western trade partners who are less amenable to the Putin regime.
If the Alaskan LNG infrastructure will eventually be built with Chinese help, would Americans be similarly beholden to Chinese soft power? To what extent might the Russian Arctic, the Greenland Arctic or the American Arctic actually become the Chinese Arctic when it comes to writing checks? What are the national security implications of China cultivating financial and maritime influence on shores and in seas that belong to other nations?
Free trade earns participants soft power. Militarization is hard power. As the U.S. and other nations have reversed long-standing free-trade ideas, that may put more onus on hard power, Minerd said.
The melting of the Arctic itself is so disorienting, and China’s ambition is so palpable that it requires a different worldview—literally. A map developed by a Chinese geophysicist, and used for more than a decade by scientists and military, Brady writes, shows both the scope of the nation’s ambitions and just how concentrated this seemingly far-flung part of the world really is. The map was first made public in 2014.
The Arctic makes up only six percent of the Earth’s surface, and yet neighbors feel like they live on the other side of the world from each other. China’s vertical map projects a view of the world few westerners have considered. But it’s a world that has China squarely at its center and is marked conspicuously by a lack of ice at the North Pole.
With China rising, just how much power Russia retains over Arctic affairs is a future much harder to project than even how fast the temperature is rising.
«The Central Bank of Russia (CBR) added 300,000 ounces (9.3 tons) of gold to its reserves in December, bringing the total yearly holdings to a record 1,838.211 tons, worth over $76 billion in monetary terms.
According to new statistics, Russia is currently the sixth-largest gold owner after the United States, Germany, Italy, France, and China. Analysts say if the current pace of gold purchases continues, Russia may dethrone China as the fifth-largest bullion holder as early as the first quarter of 2018. Chinese gold reserves currently stand at 1,842 tons.
Acquisitions of the precious metal by Russia reached a record 223 tons last year, accounting for 17.7 percent of overall Russian reserves. Since June 2015, the country has added over 558 tons of gold.
The CBR has more than doubled the pace of its gold purchases, according to Gold.org data. It has been increasing the country’s gold reserves to meet a goal set by President Vladimir Putin to make Russia less vulnerable to geopolitical risks. The Russian gold hoard has increased by more than 500 percent since 2000.
According to the World Gold Council, Russia is not only the largest official buyer of gold but also the world’s third-biggest producer, with the central bank purchasing from domestic miners through commercial banks.
In the past 10 years alone, the country has mined more than 2,000 tons of gold, with annual production expected to rise to 400 tons by 2030.»
«Il Ministero della Difesa russo ha riportato che l’aeronautica russa (VKS) ha testato il nuovo missile anti-balistico PRS-1M presso il poligono di Sary-Shagan (Repubblica del Kazakhstan).
Il Colonnello Andrey Prikhodko dell’aeronautica russa ha confermato che gli obiettivi della missione sono stati raggiunti e ha aggiunto: “Il missile ha eseguito con successo le istruzioni e ha colpito un obiettivo simulato“, senza aggiungere altri dettagli.
Il PRS-1M fa parte del sistema anti-balistico A-135 e può essere lanciato sia da silos rinforzati che da veicoli TEL. Il missile è stato sviluppato da KB Motor congiunta alla OJSC Avangard.
La struttura del nuovo missile è dotata di uno scudo protettivo per alte temperature costituita di materiali compositi e il missile è equipaggiato con un motore più potente che ne aumenta la velocità di 4km/s rispetto alla vecchia versione. Inoltre sono stati effettuati vari aggiornamenti tra cui quello al sistema di guida (in grado di resistere ad accelerazioni fino a 300G).
Il missile è in grado distruggere obiettivi a 350km e ad un’altitudine massima di circa 40-50km (è possibile che verrà equipaggiato anche con testate nucleari).»
Di questi giorni le ulteriori notizie di nuovi lanci di prova.
«I test dei missili intercettori modernizzati PRS-1M dal poligono di tiro di Sary-Shagan si svolgono all’interno del programma di aggiornamento del sistema di difesa missilistico esistente a Mosca e nel distretto centrale industriale A-135 per aumentare le sue capacità.
Lo ha riferito a Sputnik l’esperto militare russo e membro del Consiglio civico del ministero della Difesa Igor Korotchenko.
In precedenza l’organo ufficiale del dicastero militare russo “Krasnaya Zvezda” ha riferito che nel poligono di tiro di Sary-Shagan in Kazakistan è stato testato il sistema di difesa anti-missile modernizzato. Successivamente il ministero della Difesa ha pubblicato il video del test.
“Il missile intercettore PRS-1M testato, che sostituisce i razzi 53T6 ormai a fine servizio, sono di fatto una nuova arma. Rispetto alle dimensioni e caratteristiche del precedente razzo di contraerea, il PRS-1M è dotato di un nuovo propulsore e di apparecchiature elettroniche radicalmente nuove, sono notevolmente aumentate la velocità e l’altezza d’intercettazione del missile, così come l’efficacia della distruzione di obiettivi individuali e di gruppo,” — ha detto Korochenko.
Ha ricordato che attualmente la Russia sta sviluppando contemporaneamente il nuovo sistema missilistico antiaereo di quinta generazione S-500, in grado di distruggere bersagli non solo nell’atmosfera, ma anche nello spazio vicino.»
Grandi sono infatti le attese sul sistema S-500, cui la Russia sta lavorando da lungo tempo.
«The S-500 Prometey (Russian: C-500 Прометей, Prometheus), also known as 55R6M “Triumfator-M.”, is a Russian surface-to-air missile/anti-ballistic missile system intended to replace the A-135 missile system currently in use, and supplement the S-400. The S-500 is under development by the Almaz-Antey Air Defence Concern and with its characteristics it will be much similar to the US Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system
The S-500 is a new generation surface-to-air missile system. It is designed for intercepting and destroying intercontinental ballistic missiles as well as hypersonic cruise missiles and aircraft, for air defense against Airborne Early Warning and Control, and for jamming aircraft. With a planned range of 600 km (370 mi) for Anti Ballistic Missile (ABM) and 400 km (250 mi) for the air defense, the S-500 would be able to detect and simultaneously engage up to 10 ballistic hypersonic targets flying at a speed of 5 kilometres per second (3.1 mi/s; 18,000 km/h; 11,000 mph) to a limit of 7 km/s (4.3 mi/s; 25,000 km/h; 16,000 mph). It also aims at destroying hypersonic cruise missiles and other aerial targets at speeds of higher than Mach 5 as well as spacecraft. The altitude of a target engaged can be as high as 180–200 km (110–120 mi). It is effective against ballistic missiles with a launch range of 3,500 km (2,200 mi), the radar reaches a radius of 3,000 km (1,300 km for the EPR 0,1 square meter).
The system will be highly mobile and will have rapid deployability. Experts believe that the system’s capabilities can affect enemy intercontinental ballistic missiles at the middle and end portions of flight, but reports by Almaz-Antey say that the external target designation system (RLS Voronezh-DM and missile defense system A-135 radar Don-2N) will be capable of mid-early flight portion interceptions of enemy ballistic missiles, which is one of the final stages of the S-500 project.
In 2009, the system was under development at the design stage at Almaz-Antey and had been planned to be completed in 2012. In February 2011, it was announced that the first S-500 systems should be in serial production by 2014. Under the State Armament Programme 2020 (GPV-2020), the plan is to purchase 10 S-500 battalions for the Russian Aerospace Defense (VKO).
The main components of the S-500 will be:
– the launch vehicle 77P6, based on the BAZ-69096 10×10 truck;
– the command posts 55K6MA and 85Zh6-2 on BAZ-69092-12 6×6;
– the acquisition and battle management radar 91N6A(M), a modification of the 91N6 (Big Bird) towed by the BAZ-6403.01 8×8 tractor;
– the 96L6-TsP acquisition radar, an upgraded version of the 96L6 (Cheese Board) on BAZ-69096 10×10;
– the multimode engagement radar 76T6 on BAZ-6909-022 8×8;
– the ABM engagement radar 77T6 on BAZ-69096 10×10.» [Fonte]
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Scanso di equivoci, il fatto che in questo articolo si sia parlato di missili antimissili russi non significa minimamente che americani e cinesi non dispongano o stiano approntando sistemi di arma analoghi. Anzi, i sistemi americani THAAD sono già operativi, da qualche anno.
reso pubblico il 19 di gennaio dal Russian International Affairs Council.
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«And I will never forget that, just like I will never forget the state in which this country was in the early 1990s.»
«The Constitution of the United States and the electoral legislation are structured in such a way that more electors can vote for a candidate who is backed by fewer voters. And such situations do occur in the history of the United States. …. The other thing is that I am deeply convinced that no interference from the outside, in any country, even a small one, let alone in such a vast and great power as the United States, can influence the final outcome of the elections. It is not possible. Ever.»
«It does not sound like justification. It sounds like a statement of fact»
«Listen, his boss is the foreign minister. Do you think I have the time to talk to our ambassadors all over the world every day? This is nonsense»
«And virtually every person we have met on the street says what they respect about you is they feel that you have returned dignity to Russia, that you’ve returned Russia to a place of respect.»
* * * * * * *
«The common view in Moscow is that Trump had been overrated, that U.S.-Russian relations did not have a chance, that the Deep State is simply too powerful for any President to turn around, and that the U.S. establishment is genetically Russo-phobic»
On the sidelines of the St Petersburg International Economic Forum, Vladimir Putin answered questions from NBC anchor Megyn Kelly.
Megyn Kelly: President Putin, you have repeatedly and passionately denied that Russia was behind the interference with our American presidential election, including on stage at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum.
But as you know, the consensus view in the United States is that you did. That’s what the 17 intelligence agencies concluded and that’s what the Republicans and the Democrats on the Congressional oversight committees who have seen the classified report have said. Are they all lying?
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: They have been misled and they are not analysing the information in its entirety. I have not once seen any direct proof of Russia’s interference in the presidential election in the USA.
We have talked about it with former president Obama and with several other officials. No one ever showed me any direct evidence.
When we spoke with President Obama about that, you know, you should probably better ask him about it – I think he will tell you that he, too, is confident of it. But when he and I talked I saw that he, too, started having doubts. At any rate, that’s how I saw it.
I have already told you, and I can say it again, that today’s technology is such that the final address can be masked and camouflaged to an extent that no one will be able to understand the origin of that address. And, vice versa, it is possible to set up any entity or any individual that everyone will think that they are the exact source of that attack.
Modern technology is very sophisticated and subtle and allows this to be done. And when we realize that we will get rid of all the illusions. That’s one thing. The other thing is that I am deeply convinced that no interference from the outside, in any country, even a small one, let alone in such a vast and great power as the United States, can influence the final outcome of the elections. It is not possible. Ever.
Megyn Kelly: But the other side says is it was only 70,000 votes that won Trump the election, and therefore influencing 70,000 people might not have been that hard.
Vladimir Putin: The Constitution of the United States and the electoral legislation are structured in such a way that more electors can vote for a candidate who is backed by fewer voters. And such situations do occur in the history of the United States. True, isn’t it?
Therefore, if we were to discuss some kind of political and social justice, then probably that electoral legislation needs to be changed and bring a situation where the head of state would be elected by direct secret ballot and so there will be direct tabulation of votes that can be easily monitored. That’s all there is to it. And there will be no need for those who have lost the elections to point fingers and blame their troubles on anybody.
Now, if we turn this page over, I will tell you something that you most likely know about. I don’t want to offend anyone, but the United States, everywhere, all over the world, is actively interfering in electoral campaigns in other countries. Is this really news to you?
Just talk to people but in such a way (to the extent it is possible for you) so as to convince them that you’re not going to make it public. Point your finger to any spot on the world’s map, everywhere you’ll hear complaints that American officials interfere in their political domestic processes.
Therefore, if someone, and I am not saying that it’s us (we did not interfere), if anybody does influence in some way or attempts to influence or somehow participates in these processes, then the United States has nothing to be offended by. Who is talking? Who is taking offense that we are interfering? You yourselves interfere all the time.
Megyn Kelly: That sounds like a justification.
Vladimir Putin: It does not sound like justification. It sounds like a statement of fact. Each action invites appropriate counteraction, but, again, we don’t need to do that because I did not tell you this without a reason, both you personally and other members of the media, recently I was in France and I said the same things.
Presidents come and go, and even parties come to and away from power. But the main policy tack does not change. So by and large we don’t care who will be at the helm in the United States. We have a rough idea of what is going to happen. And in this regard, even if we wanted to it wouldn’t make any sense for us to interfere.
Megyn Kelly: You had said for months that Russia had nothing to do with the interference of the American election, and then this week you floated the idea of patriotic hackers doing it. Why the change and why now?
Vladimir Putin: It’s just that the French journalists asked me about those hackers, and just like I told them, I can tell you, that hackers may be anywhere. They may be in Russia, in Asia, in America, in Latin America. There may be hackers, by the way, in the United States who very craftily and professionally passed the buck to Russia. Can’t you imagine such a scenario? In the middle of an internal political fight, it was convenient for them, whatever the reason, to put out that information. And put it out they did. And, doing it, they made a reference to Russia. Can’t you imagine it happening? I can. Let us recall the assassination of President Kennedy.
There is a theory that Kennedy’s assassination was arranged by the United States special services. If this theory is correct, and one cannot rule it out, so what can be easier in today’s context, being able to rely on the entire technical capabilities available to special services than to organise some kind of attacks in the appropriate manner while making a reference to Russia in the process. Now, the candidate for the Democratic Party, is this candidate universally beloved in the United States? Was it such a popular person? That candidate, too, had political opponents and rivals.
Megyn Kelly: Let’s move on. A special counsel has been appointed to investigate contacts between your government and the Trump campaign. You have said that your ambassador Kislyak was just doing his job. Right? So, what exactly was discussed in those meetings?
Vladimir Putin: There were no sessions. You see, there were no sessions. When I saw that my jaw dropped.
Megyn Kelly: No meetings between Ambassador Kislyak and anybody from the Trump campaign?
Vladimir Putin: No clue. I am telling you honestly. I don’t know. That’s an ambassador’s every day, routine work. Do you think, an ambassador from any place in the world or from the US reports to me daily as to whom he meets with and what they discuss? It’s just absurd. Do you even understand what you are asking me?
Megyn Kelly: Well, you’re his boss.
Vladimir Putin: Listen, his boss is the foreign minister. Do you think I have the time to talk to our ambassadors all over the world every day? This is nonsense. Don’t you understand that this is just some kind of nonsense. I don’t even know with whom he met there. Had there been something out of the ordinary, something remarkable he of course would have advised the minister and the minister would have informed me. Nothing of that happened.
Megyn Kelly: Since it happened have you gone back to speak with the ambassador about what was in those discussions he had with Jared Kushner, with General Michael Flynn, with anybody else from the Trump campaign?
Vladimir Putin: No, I haven’t.
Megyn Kelly: Aren’t you interested?
Vladimir Putin: No. Because if there had been something meaningful he would have made a report to the minister, and the minister would have made a report to me. There weren’t even any reports. Just every day, routine work that doesn’t mean anything that may not even have any prospects.
It’s just that someone decided to find fault with it and, you know, select it as a line of attack against the current President. This isn’t for us to get into, these are your domestic political squabbles. So you deal with them. Nothing to talk about.
There was not even a specific discussion of sanctions or something else. I just find it amazing how you created a sensation where there wasn’t anything at all. And proceeded to turn that sensation into a tool for fighting the sitting president. You know, you’re just very resourceful people there, well done, probably your lives there are boring.
Megyn Kelly: I am sure you have heard by now that one of the things they are looking into is the fact that Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, reportedly discussed with Ambassador Kislyak in December establishing a back channel for communications between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. And the suggestion was, by Mr Kushner, that they could do this at a Russian embassy or a Russian consulate. That they could use Russia’s communications gear to make those communications happen so that the United States intelligence service could not hear. Does that strike you as a good idea?
Vladimir Putin: Russia had no channels of communication with neither campaign, the campaigns of the US Presidential candidates. None whatsoever. Russia did not set up and did not have any channels with anyone. There may have been official contacts with the campaigns of all the candidates, which is a standard diplomatic practice.
Megyn Kelly: This is a proposal, a proposal by Mr Kushner.
Vladimir Putin: I am not aware of such a proposal. No such proposal ever reached me.
Megyn Kelly: Did you know General Michael Flynn? He came over here for a dinner a photo of which has been widely circulated in the American media. What was the nature of your relationship with him?
Vladimir Putin: You and I, we have a much closer relationship than with Mr Flynn. You and I met up yesterday evening. You and I have worked all day together. We are meeting yet again at this moment. When I came to the event at our company, Russia Today, and sat down at the table, next to me there was a gentleman, and someone else was sitting down on my other side.
I made a speech, then we talked about something else, then I got up and left. Afterwards, I was told, ”You know, that American gentleman, he used to do this before, used to work in the special services. And now he does this.“ ”Great,“ I said, ”Are you working with him somehow?“ “No, we just invited him as a guest, one of the guests.” And I replied: “Well, good for you!” And that’s it.
I almost did not talk to him. I said hello, we sat next to each other, then I said goodbye and left. This sums up my entire acquaintanceship with Mr Flynn. If Mr Flynn and I had this kind of interaction, while you and I, we have spent an entire day together, and Mr Flynn was fired from his job, you then should be arrested and put in jail.
Megyn Kelly: Many Americans hear the name, Vladimir Putin. And they think, ”He runs a country full of corruption, a country in which journalists, who are too critical, could wind up murdered, a country in which dissidents could wind up in jail or worse.“ To people who believe that, what is your message?
Vladimir Putin: I want to say that Russia is developing along a democratic path, this is without question so. No one should have any doubts about that. The fact that, amidst political rivalry and some other domestic developments, we see things happen here that are typical of other countries, I do not see anything unusual in it.
We have rallies, opposition rallies. And people here have the right to express their point of view. However, if people, while expressing their views, break the current legislation, the effective law in place, then of course, the law enforcement agencies try to restore order.
I am calling your attention to something that I discussed recently when on a trip to France and in my discussions with other European colleagues. Our police force, fortunately, so far, do not use batons, tear gas or any other extreme measures of instilling order, something that we often see in other countries, including in the United States.
Speaking of opposition, let us recall the movement Occupy Wall Street. Where is it now? The law enforcement agencies and special services in the US have taken it apart, into little pieces, and have dissolved it. I’m not asking you about how things stand in terms of democracy in the United States. Especially so that the electoral legislation is far from being perfect in the US. Why do you believe you are entitled to put such questions to us and, mind you, do it all the time, to moralize and to teach us how we should live?
We are ready to listen to our partners, ready to listen to appraisals and assessments when it is done in a friendly manner, in order to establish contacts and create a common atmosphere and dedicate ourselves to shared values. But we absolutely will not accept when such things are used as a tool of political struggle. I want everybody to know that. This is our message.
Megyn Kelly: There have been questions in America about Donald Trump’s finances. He hasn’t released his tax returns. There have been questions about this secret Russian dossier, which he says is fake, but which purports to have blackmail information in it generated by the Russians. There have been questions about the communications between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign, all of which has Americans asking, ”Do you have something damage on our president?“
Vladimir Putin: Well, this is just another piece of nonsense. Where would we get any information about him? Did we have some kind of special relationship with him. There was no relationship whatsoever. Yes, he visited Moscow in his day. But, you know, I never met him.
Many Americans come here. There are representatives of 100 companies from the US, who have come to Russia. Do you think I have met each and every representative of those American companies? You probably saw me walk into the conference hall, where our colleagues were sitting. I consider them all to be our friends. They are all working in Russia and many of them have been doing it for many years. They are investors. They are the CEOs of major US companies. They are interested in joint work. And that’s great! And we will welcome each and every one of them. And we will consider each of them our friend.
And we will help them implement their plans in Russia and will try to steer things in a direction so that they can work here successfully and make a profit.
And should they all be arrested for it afterwards? Have you lost your minds there or something? What about the freedom of economy? What about human rights? Do you think we are gathering dirt on all of them now? Are you all right in the head, all of you there?
Megyn Kelly: Last question. We have been here in St Petersburg for about a week now. And virtually every person we have met on the street says what they respect about you is they feel that you have returned dignity to Russia, that you’ve returned Russia to a place of respect. You’ve been in the leadership of this country for 17 years now. Has it taken any sort of personal toll on you?
Vladimir Putin: I hope not. Do you know what I feel? I feel this live, direct connection to this land, to its history, to this country. You have said that you have been in St Petersburg for several days. Yesterday, I had a conversation with Indian Prime Minister. He had visited the Piskarevskoye Memorial Cemetery, where almost 400,000 residents of Leningrad were buried, most of them civilians. They died during the siege of Leningrad. They starved to death. And buried in one of those graves is my older brother whom I have never seen. And I will never forget that, just like I will never forget the state in which this country was in the early 1990s.
You and I have had a debate today in the course of our conversation. However, in this country, since 2000 – and we have many problems, and recently even the poverty threshold has become a little worse than we planned – the situation will recover, I am confident of that, and yet our population’s real wages have grown manifold. And so have pensions.
Our economy has become completely different, on the whole. The size has changed. The economy has almost doubled in size. And the quality is changing, not as fast as we would like it to, but the structure is changing.
Our Armed Forces are completely different today from what they were, say 15 years ago or so.
All of this, including our great history, great culture, all of this, not just what we see today, is what makes the vast majority of Russia’s citizens feel proud for their country.
At the end of 2016, both the political and expert communities in Russia appeared to be very pessimistic about the future of the world order in general, and the about the future of the West in particular. Indeed, the year had turned out to be an annus horribilis in many ways; numerous doomsday prophets referred to various harbingers of the looming cataclysms. They mentioned the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union and the victory of a non-system candidate in the U.S. presidential election. They highlighted the nearly global rise of right-wing populism and antiglobalism to a level that was unprecedented in recent decades. They talked about the wave of migration that was threatening to consume Europe. They pointed to the impotence of international organizations in the face of multiplying regional conflicts, and they noted a widespread decline in public confidence in practically all institutions of power .
These apocalyptic visions were, of course, somewhat self-serving. Notwithstanding all its problems, in 2016 Moscow demonstrated a lot of political, economic and social stability amidst this global turmoil. Inflation was put under control, devaluation of the national currency was stopped and even reversed, Western economic sanctions failed to bring Russia to its knees, and the parliamentary elections in September resulted in a predictable triumphant victory for the Kremlin’s United Russia Party. Political and economic risks in the coming year 2017 appeared to be relatively low and manageable. Technocrats in the government and in the presidential administration had reasons to be proud of their performance: the Russian system turned out to be more adaptive and flexible than its in-house and foreign critics had maintained.
The notion of stability as the supreme value was back in circulation and used widely in both domestic and international propaganda. Even if Russia’s stability looked more and more like the stagnation of the late Soviet period, stagnation still appeared to be a preferable alternative to the West’s disorder and commotion. Not surprisingly, the greatest portion of gloomy and even apocalyptic prophesies of Russian pundits had to do with the fate of the European Union. In 2014-2016, the EU found itself in a perfect storm that revealed the frightening fragility and obvious obsolescence of many of its fundamental political, financial, economic, institutional and even spiritual foundations. Russia’s problems appeared much less dramatic against the background of the EU seemingly sinking into chaos, and the apparent hopelessness of the “European project.” 
Subsequent developments in Europe, however, demonstrated that the European Union had not lost its resilience and its cohesion. In this chapter, I argue that in 2017 Russian foreign policy started a painful process of reassessing its previous assumptions about the EU and its midterm prospects. This reassessment ran parallel to a growing disappointment in the ability of the Trump Administration in the United States to change the negative momentum in the U.S.-Russian relationship or to pursue a consistent foreign policy in general. One can foresee these changes in the Russian approach to the West continuing in 2018 and beyond.
Engagement Can Wait
The expectation (and, for some, the eager anticipation) of the inevitable collapse of the current world order influenced Russia’s foreign policy and relevant discussions, particularly in late 2016 and early 2017. Indeed, what sense did it make to invest effort, energy and political capital in difficult negotiations with leaders whose days were numbered anyway? Would it be reasonable to keep following rules of the game that had been accepted way back when if these same rules would be rewritten very soon? Was it worth agreeing to concessions and uncomfortable compromises if a new post-Western world was about to arrive? Would it not be wiser to wait it out and observe from a safe distance the epic demise of the old era, which had formed at the turn of the century?
Russian foreign policy at that juncture seemed to follow a wait-and-see approach, abstaining from any far-reaching proposals, not to mention potential concessions to Western partners or recondition of Russia’s past mistakes. The last visible attempt to set Russia-EU relations into motion was the occasion of EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s visit to Russia for the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum on June 16, 2016. President Vladimir Putin handed to his guest a list of specific proposals on restoring Moscow’s relations with Brussels. The EU, however, never reacted to the Russian list. Instead, the Kremlin had to live with the five principles of Federica Mogherini, only one of which (selective engagement with Russia on foreign policy issues vital to the EU) could be interpreted as a promise of limited cooperation in the future, but even this principle was deliberately vague and ambiguous.
A similar last-minute pitch failed in relations with the Obama Administration. On September 10th, 2016 in Geneva, after long and exhausting talks, John Kerry and Sergey Lavrov announced a tentative ceasefire deal for Syria. They also stated that this deal was to lead the way to a joint U.S.-Russian air campaign against ISIS and other extremist groups and new negotiations on the country’s political future.
This hope —to use Syria as an opportunity to limit the damage in Russian-American relations caused by the Ukrainian crisis—did not last very long. The painfully negotiated Kerry-Lavrov peace plan collapsed just a few weeks after signing. The Russian side accused the United States of failing to exercise the needed pressure on the select groups of the anti-Assad opposition to make them abide by the terms of the ceasefire agreement—a task that was arguably too big for Washington to handle successfully. Russians also complained that the United States had not been able to separate the moderate Syrian opposition from more radical factions gravitating to ISIS and al-Qaeda. Again, it remains unclear whether the United States was in a position to arrange such a separation. However, the main source of the Kremlin’s frustrations was the perceived unwill-ingness of the U.S. military to work in any substantive way with its Russian counterparts. In the fall of 2016 in Moscow, it became popular to argue that the Pentagon had managed to overrule the State Department, and that the hawkish views or Ash Carter had prevailed over the more moderate positions of John Kerry.
It seems that these failures to engage Europe and the United States, as well as the perception that the West was entering a long-term period of disarray and decline, led to a serious reassessment of Russian foreign policy priorities. Syria serves as an example of this reassessment. After the unsuccessful attempt to create a Russian-U.S. alliance, the Kremlin focused its energy and diplomatic skills on building a coalition of regional players through the Astana de-escalation process. Bringing Turkey and Iran to the negotiating table was an unquestionable diplomatic victory for Vladimir Putin, and the Kremlin worked hard to get major Arab countries interested in this new arrangement. The invitation was also extended to the United States, but U.S. participation was no longer considered critical for the success of Russia’s Syrian strategy.
Taking all of Russia’s internal problems and restraints into account, in 2016 Moscow appeared to have one undeniable advantage over the West: a more considerable reserve of time. Russia’s ailments, extremely serious as they are, are chronic and sometimes even dormant in nature: they have matured over years if not decades. The problems of the West, meanwhile, went from dormant to acute within a single year in 2016, and international experts started talking about the possibility of a fatal outcome. At any rate, the Kremlin had reasons to believe that in any possible confrontation scenario, Moscow would be able to outperform Western capitals, precisely because it had more time on its hands. The nature of the Russian political system, the high level of political mobilization and social consensus reached after the crisis of 2014, the marginalization of the domestic opposition and the relatively stable performance of the Russian economy—all these factors made the Russian leadership confident that it would not encounter major problems during, or following, the presidential elections of 2018.
Finally, the election of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States raised hopes in Moscow that Russia would be in a position to cut a deal with Washington above the heads of European capitals. Some of the election campaign statements by the new President sounded very encouraging; they apparently reflected a worldview and a set of foreign policy principles not very different from these of President Vladimir Putin. Though some Russian experts on the United States cautioned against too high expectations about possible change in U.S. foreign policy, the mood in Moscow on the eve of 2017 was largely optimistic. Only the pro-Western liberal minority was looking to the future with concerns and fear. This cohort of Russian intellectuals suspected that any further deepening of the crisis in the West would become a significant boost to authoritarian political trends inside Russia; the crisis and the growing impotence of the West could also create temptations for a more adventurist and risk-taking Kremlin foreign policy.
No Revolution This Week
Looking back to the “Trumpomania” of late 2016—early 2017, today many in Russia have turned from enthusiasm to fatalism. The common view in Moscow is that Trump had been overrated, that U.S.-Russian relations did not have a chance, that the Deep State is simply too powerful for any President to turn around, and that the U.S. establishment is genetically Russo-phobic. The logical conclusion is that in 2017, Russia could have done nothing and can do nothing today to change the momentum of the relationship. We now have to sit on our hands waiting for some shifts in U.S. politics. This is not a very optimistic view. However, was it really the case? Could we speculate about an alternative track of the relationship if Moscow had taken a different, more proactive approach, beginning in January 2017?
The inertia of negative trends in Russian-U.S. relations in early 2017 was very powerful and hard to stop. Policies toward Moscow became an important component of U.S. domestic politics and President Trump was significantly constrained in what he could offer his counterpart in the Kremlin. However, in my view, Russian policy made a few tactical mistakes that closed the door to even limited progress in the bilateral relationship during the first few months of the new Administration.
First, the political fallout of the alleged Russia’s interference into the U.S. presidential election of 2016 was grossly underestimated in Moscow. Instead of demonstrating its understanding of American concerns—no matter how grounded and justified these concerns looked from the Russian side—and offering full cooperation in investigating the hackers’ case, the Russian leadership took a very condescending and dismissive position in this matter. “This isn’t for us to get into; these are your domestic political squabbles. Therefore, you deal with them. Nothing to talk about,”  was how President Putin responded to Megyn Kelly’s question about hackers at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in early June. This dismissive attitude played a significant role in consolidating the anti-Russian consensus in America. Two month later the U.S. Congress almost unanimously approved a new far-reaching sanctions package against Russia.
Second, it its attempts to reach out to the United States, the Russian leadership targeted exclusively the new Administration, instead of sending meaningful signals to the U.S. public at large, including its representatives in the U.S. Congress. For instance, Moscow could have announced the abolition of the notorious Dima Yakovlev Law that banned adoption of Russian orphans by U.S. citizens. It could have demonstrated its good will by reconsidering the list of U.S. undesirable organizations that had been kicked out of Russia during the last years of the Obama Administration. It could have restarted a number of frozen U.S.-Russian exchange pro-grams in education and civil society (the FLEX program being one of the most evident options). Unfortunately, none of these evident steps was made—probably because the Kremlin did not consider U.S. public opinion to be an important factor in shaping the Trump Administration’s foreign policy.
Finally, to the extent we can judge the initial Russian proposals to the new U.S. Administration, which allegedly were submitted to the White house in late March-early April 2017, they were limited primarily to restoring communications in three areas. Moscow offered to resume political dialogue, contacts between top U.S. and Russian military officials and information exchange between intelligence agencies of the two countries. Nothing suggests that these proposals contained any substantive ideas or demonstrated any new flexibility in Kremlin positions on matters like Syria or Ukraine. There was nothing in the proposals that would give the Trump Administration the prospect of an early and spectacular foreign policy success.
In 2017 it became evident that not only had the Trump Administration inherited the U.S.-Russian crisis from its predecessors, this coincided with what was arguably the most profound political crisis in the United States since Watergate. What was more, America had also entered a social crisis that went way beyond the Washington, DC Beltway and had the potential to affect the whole of American society. The hope that Donald Trump could be a strong president capable of restoring the shaken unity of the American people did not pan out, while the polarization of different political and social groups increased throughout most of 2017. The White house became significantly restricted in its ability to conduct a consistent foreign policy, not to mention implement any long-term strategy.
At the same time, the developments of 2017 suggest that the decline of the old era in Europe has been postponed, if not cancelled outright. The populist Eurosceptics failed in the Dutch and French elections, and the German election reaffirmed the continuity of Berlin’s European strategy. Notwithstanding all of Brexit’s negative implications, it actually resulted in the European idea gaining more popular support within the EU’s 27 remaining member states, and it became unlikely that any would follow suit any time soon. The migration crisis was not completely resolved, but in 2017 it no longer appeared as dramatic as it did in 2016 and especially in 2015. The euro did not crash, and no eurozone nations were thrown out.
It seems that Moscow was late to accept the important change of the curve in European developments and to change its tactics, if not strategy, towards Europe. Otherwise, it is hard to understand, for example, why Vladimir Putin chose to greet personally French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen at the Kremlin in March and why the Russian mainstream media were so critical, if not hostile, to Emmanuel Macron literally until the day of the second round of the French presidential elections. To be fair to the Kremlin, it demonstrated a much more prudent approach to the parliamentary elections in Germany in September. On the other hand, one can argue that there was a fundamental difference between the French and German election cycles of 2017: in France, three of four presidential candidate argued for a more accommodative EU policy toward Russia, including possible change to the regime of sanctions; in Germany no mainstream political party contemplated such a change.
The Resilience of the West
It would appear that the United States and Europe followed opposite courses in 2017: while Brussels was beginning to react to its systemic problems, albeit slowly and falteringly, Washington only watched its problems grow. On the other hand, these processes in Europe and North America, which might seem incompatible through the prism of global politics, essentially reflected in different ways the same fundamental meaning of 2017. The Western world as a whole demonstrated more ability to adjust, more resistance to destabilizing factors, and more resilience than anyone could have credited it with in late 2016. It would probably be an overstatement to label 2017 as annus mirabilis, but it was definitely not as bad as 2016, and it countered some of the most pessimistic views on the inevitability of Western decline.
It is true that after Trump became president, disputes intensified within NATO as to how the burden of defense expenses should be distributed within the Alliance. However, the May 2017 NATO summit in Brussels did not prove catastrophic, and any attempts to write NATO off appear to be very much premature. It is also true that the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership project is no more, but this has not resulted in heated trade wars between Europe and North America, nor will such conflicts break out in the future. Washington has left the Paris climate accord, but the major part of American business and society continue to observe the letter and spirit of that agreement.
This does not mean that 2017 resolved the postmodernist crisis in international relations: the fundamental problems of the modern global political system did not disappear in 2017, and the system will still have to change one way or another. however, we can now see that postmodernism is characterized by a good share of momentum and will continue to fight against advancing traditionalist forces for years to come. Therefore, current changes will most likely be characterized by a protracted evolution rather than a swift revolution; they will take years and even decades to complete. This process will have its ups and downs, speedups and slowdowns. however, it is unlikely that historians of the future, let alone contemporaries, will be able to pinpoint the moment when global politics transitioned from one qualitative state to the next. Speaking specifically of 2017, one can conclude that this period was dominated by restorative trends rather than by revolutionary ones.
What does this all mean for Russia? First and foremost, in 2017 decision-makers in the Kremlin should have cast away all illusions that Russia’s problems with the West would disappear on the back of the radical changes taking place within the West itself. The assumption that Moscow’s main task was to wait out this period in global politics, which, although extremely unpleasant for Russia, might appear to be short-lived, turned out to be highly questionable. In 2017, it became apparent that the Kremlin had no guaranteed advantage in short- and mid-term planning over the West. The Russian leadership had to plan for a marathon, not a sprint, and it was by no means a given that Moscow was better equipped to last out this contest than its Western opponents.
The upheavals of the past few years might not have completely cut down the snobbish, overconfident and not entirely perspicacious European bureaucrats and strategists, but they may at least have forced them to come down to earth. For the sake of the future of the European project, Brussels and other European capital cities were actively looking for new EU development paths, discussing possible solutions to key issues of political and economic reforms and plans to reform the key European institutions. Can we say in earnest that in 2017 Russia was discussing the future of the Russian project with the same zealousness, breadth and intensity?
It is of course possible that skeptics will soon mount another attack on the European Union, and that pro-Russian leaders will come to power in one or two European countries. It is also possible that Trump will manage to win a tactical victory over the Deep State, minimizing the practical implementation of new anti-Russian sanctions. A new major armed conflict in the Middle East could distract the West from its confrontation with Russia, or global political instability could lead to a steep oil price hike. However, building a strategy on such premises is akin to planning a family budget in hope of a hefty lottery win. The unpredictability of international developments should not justify the absence of a cohesive strategy, especially when one has to deal with an opponent who is far superior in terms of overall economic, social and military attributes of power.
In addition, it is now becoming clear that Russia will not be able to engage in strategic interaction with the Trump administration while leaving the disintegrating EU by the wayside. So far, the opposite has been true.
It appears that in the foreseeable future, Russia cannot hope for much more than tactical interaction with the United States on a limited set of issues, such as Syria, North Korea, the Arctic and nuclear non-proliferation. If Moscow is particularly lucky, it might expand this list to add strategic stability, the fight against global terrorism and certain other problems. However, cooperation with the Americans on the creation of a new world order is no longer possible. The firmness of the anti-Russian consensus in Washington is indisputable; splitting this consensus will take a very long time, if it happens at all. Very few people in Moscow today believe that the decisions on anti-Russian sanctions made in Washington in 2017 are likely to be reconsidered anytime soon. What is currently happening in U.S.-Russia relations is more than a worsening of the weather; it is a fundamental climatic shift, the coming of a new Ice Age.
The EU, on the other hand, appears to be more promising for Russia. In order to overcome its numerous problems and ailments, the European Union will inevitably have to revise many of its existing mechanisms, procedures and priorities, and even, to an extent, its rules and principles. Russia could assist with the European Union’s transformation for its own benefit by supporting a stronger Europe and abstaining from patronizing anti-European parties and movements across the continent. In this case, it could hope to gradually expand cooperation with Europe, on the con-dition that at least some minimal progress is achieved on Ukraine, which is central to Russia-EU relations.
This does not imply that fundamental disagreements between Moscow and Brussels will cease to exist. The worldview of the current political leadership in the Kremlin is not going to change; an ideological revolution in the European Union is no more likely. In the observable future Russia will not become a part of the European project. Nevertheless, this division does not preclude various forms of cooperation similar to these during the 1970s or 1980s.
Back to the Cold War
Since no revolution took place in global politics in 2017, practical solutions need to be sought in the framework of the existing system of political coordinates; more grandiose plans have to wait. The old model of geopolitical confrontation between East and West, i.e., the Cold War model, should be revisited as an interim solution for the Russia-West adversarial relationship. This model is certainly far from ideal, it is expensive and to a great extent outdated. Nevertheless, notwithstanding all its shortcomings, the Cold War model used to ensure a satisfactory level of stability and predictability, both in Europe and in the world as a whole.
This model included numerous channels of political interaction, contacts among militaries, risk mitigation measures and arms control treaties. Furthermore, the Cold War model was based on mutual respect and even a degree of mutual trust. So why not fall back on this time-tested con-frontation management practice, using such mechanisms as the NATO–Russia Council, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the Council of Europe, or new ad-hoc formats like the Russia-NATO Crisis Management Group, which has been repeatedly proposed?
At this stage the name of the game in Russia’s relations with the West is not mutual trust, but rather mutual predictability. Since it is very difficult to make predictions about the Trump Administration, major European counties and the European Union at large become more important for Russia than was the case earlier. For example, both Russia and the EU have strategic interests to secure the multilateral agreement of the Iranian nuclear dossier. Likewise, the Russian and the EU positions are close on the North Korean problem.
In some areas, there is actually no need to return to the old model because it is still in place. This goes for Russia’s nuclear interaction with the United States, for example. The two remaining pillars of this interaction, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) and New START Treaty, while certainly offering some positive aspects, are nevertheless fully compliant with the logic of controlled confrontation and are fully within the Cold War paradigm. Retaining and reinforcing these accords would not require any historic political breakthrough, unilateral concessions, or switching to a fundamentally new format of Moscow’s relations with Washington.
The goal to preserve INF and New START is definitely worth fighting for. Nevertheless, even if this hard battle is won, this will not signal the end of the fight to secure and to strengthen strategic arms control in the 21st century. Neither INF nor New START prevents the United States from spending $1 trillion in the next 30 years on modernizing its nuclear bombs, bombers, missiles and submarines. Russia will also continue its large-scale strategic modernization program, even if the two agreements remain in place.
The crisis of strategic arms control is more complex and fundamental than the uncertain future of the two agreements, as important as they are. In the 21st century, strategic arms control is no longer about arithmetic; it requires applications of higher mathematics. These days, mobility dom-inates location, precision beats throw-weight; and the line between nuclear and conventional weapons has become almost invisible. The old arms control paradigm has entered into its own perfect storm. While preservation of its Cold War heritage is indispensable, preservation in itself is clearly not sufficient to provide for strategic stability in a completely new global environment.
One can argue that traditional distinctions between strategic, intermediate-range and tactical systems are becoming antiquated. The reality is that the United States and Russia have and will continue to have strikingly different geopolitical and geostrategic positions in the world; their threat perceptions and their respective strategic doctrines will never be identical to each other. If so, the United States and Russia could merge New START and INF into one umbrella agreement that would set overall ceilings for nuclear warheads and launchers on both sides. Within these overall ceilings both Washington and Moscow would be in a position to blend individual cocktails of strategic, intermediate range and tactical systems to their liking. For a better taste, they could even add the missile defense component to the mix. The only sub-ceiling that they might need to preserve is the sub-ceiling for deployed warheads, which are of particular concern to the other side. This sub-ceiling can amount to a half or one third of the total number.
This approach will not address all the contemporary challenges to strategic arms control. For example, the time has come move away from a bilateral U.S.-Russian format to a multilateral one, but this approach will not do that. Still, an innovative approach would be a loud and clear signal to third nuclear powers that there is political will in both the White House and in the Kremlin not only to preserve, but also to enhance and to modernize global strategic security.
Skeptics can argue that today is not the best time to experiment with new approaches to strategic arms control. U.S.-Russian relations have hit historical lows, trust between the two countries is non-existent, political opposition to any new deals will be too strong to generate domestic support for any new agreements. These are exactly the arguments used back in the 1950s against a possible U.S.—Soviet collaboration to write a set of rules for the new nuclear world. It took the Cuban missile crisis of October 1962 to start moving away from this perception, and another ten years to sign the first U.S.-Soviet Strategic Arms Limitation Talks Agreement (SALT 1). Are we ready to wait for another missile crisis—in North Korea or elsewhere? Can we afford another ten years for a new detente between Washington and Moscow?
The Second Layer of the Pie
Overhauling and restarting the old Cold War model is a necessary but insufficient factor for the future stabilization of Russia’s relations with the West. With all its comparative advantages, this model has at least four key structural limitations. First, the Cold War model is inherently static. It is aimed at preserving the status quo and precludes any evolution. Such a model is extremely difficult to reform; it was no accident that the Cold War ended not in an orderly transformation of the controlled confrontation model, but in a dramatic and chaotic collapse in the late 1980s. Given the dynamics of the international system today, any attempt to codify Rus-sia-West relations for an extended period of time is unlikely to be successful. There are simple too many independent variables that might affect these relations, from rising China to the fourth industrial revolution to global climate change.
Second, the Cold War was primarily fought by two vertically structured politico-military blocs, which split Europe into the Soviet and U.S. spheres of influence. It would be absolutely impossible to divide today’s Europe into distinct spheres of influence; the very idea of spheres of influence is considered to be hopelessly antiquated and unacceptable, at least in the Western world. Besides, contemporary Russia is not comparable to the former USSR at the peak of its might; a geopolitical parity between Moscow and the combined West is only possible if Russia creates a political and military alliance with China, but it is highly unlikely that Russia would be the leading partner in such an alliance.
Third, Soviet and U.S. leaders built the Cold War model in order to counter the most dangerous threats of the 20th century. Even though many of these threats still exist, the 21st century has brought up new challenges, including those posed by non-governmental actors. The Cold War model cannot offer much in terms of counteracting the new generation of threats to international security. In many ways, the Cold War model was the last incarnation of the traditional Westphalian world, which is no longer the world in which we live.
Fourth, the Cold War model was relatively effective in a situation when the two confronting systems remained virtually isolated from one another and separated by incompatible ideologies. No such economic, political or humanitarian confrontation between Russia and the West exists anymore, nor could it be reinstated, despite certain attempts being made on both sides. The current media war between Russia and the West looks like a caricature of the ideological struggle between communism and liberal democracy in the middle of the 20th century. Nor can Russia be isolated from the West in an age of unprecedented human mobility, porous borders, global information and communications technologies. Despite all of Russia’s efforts aimed at self-reliance, import substitution and higher protectionism, the country’s dependence on the outside word is likely to increase, not decrease.
The old model’s considerable limitations necessitate the introduction of a new complementary dimension to Russia-West relations. The role of such a dimension could be played out through a system of global, regional and sub-regional regimes that would preserve and expand the common space between Russia and Europe, between Eurasia and the Euro-Atlantic area.
In the initial phase, such regimes would be easier to preserve and develop in less politically sensitive fields, such as education, science and culture. However, it may be possible to apply the regimes model to nontraditional security challenges, including international terrorism, drug trafficking, cross-border crime, energy security and even cyber security. The regimes model can also work on the sub-regional level: for example, it has long been applied effectively in the Arctic.
In the current situation, the regimes model could efficiently complement the old Cold War model in Russia’s relations with the West. As distinct from the inherently rigid Cold War model, which requires strict codification of agreements reached, the regimes model is flexible, often making it possible to do without burdensome negotiations over technicalities and avoid complex and protracted ratification procedures.
While the Cold War model requires a universally recognized hierarchy of parties in international relations, the regimes model is based on horizontal interactions between the parties involved, which may include not only large and small states, but also non-governmental actors such as regions and municipalities, private companies and civil institutions, international organizations and cross-border movements. This significantly expands the range of potential stakeholders interested in the development of cooperation, creating a critical mass for subsequent breakthroughs.
Skeptics would argue that this approach has already been tried in the relations between Russia and the West, but failed to prevent the current crisis and therefore should be rejected as inefficient. I would make a counterargument: the current crisis would be much deeper and more difficult to manage if the two sides did not have a thick network of social, humanitarian, cultural, educational and other contacts. Despite an ongoing and intense information war, the West still remains a point of orientation to millions and millions of Russians. It is true that Russians have not become completely immune to anti-Western propaganda, but the depth and the sustainability of anti-Western moods in the Russian society can be questioned.
Whereas the Cold War model proceeds from the premise that the parties are prepared for major deals such as the 1975 Helsinki Accords, and is mainly based on a top-down approach, the regimes model works in situations of strategic uncertainty, in the absence of major deals, and is mostly based on a bottom-up approach. Shoots of cooperation sprout up wherever there are even the most minuscule cracks in the asphalt of confrontation.
The question is whether such different models of Russia’s relations with the West can possibly be combined within a single hybrid format. That this is possible in principle follows from the peculiarities of contemporary social organization in Russia and the West, which differs radically from how things were organized in the middle of the 20th century. Thanks to the high level of social, professional and cultural fragmentation in contemporary societies, the existence of multiple group and individual identities, and the extremely intricate mechanisms of interaction within vertical, horizontal, formal, informal, basic and situational ties, both models will have their target audiences, proponents, operators and ideologists in Russia and the West.
It is easy to predict that the logic of confrontation will inevitably restrict and distort the logic of cooperation. One way or another, the two mutually complementary models affect each other, because they simply cannot be isolated. However, the art of foreign policy presupposes, among other things, the ability to play chess on several boards simultaneously, or to be more precise, to play chess, poker and even the exotic Asian game Go at the same time, not just the traditional Russian game of gorodki. The most important thing is to delimit the spheres of application of the two models and gradually shift the balance between them from the former to the latter.
Looking Beyond the Horizon
Any significant changes in the current pattern of relations between Russia and the West is likely to be a slow, gradual and long process. At this stage, there are not many compelling reasons for the Kremlin to reconsider its fundamental approaches to the West. On the one hand, the current status quo is perceived as not perfect, but generally acceptable. Potential risks associated with maintaining the status quo are regarded as relatively low compared to risks that might emerge from attempts at changing the status quo. The margin of safety of both the Russian political system and its economy is still quite significant. On the other hand, the trend towards a new consolidation of the West is still very fragile and arguably reversible. There are many political, social and economic problems, to which neither the United States, not the European Union, have found credible solutions.
The status quo-focused foreign policy does not exclude trial balloons, tactical adjustments, incremental concessions, and situational collaboration. All these are important in 2018 and in years to come. However, a more fundamental change in Russian foreign policy is not likely to come as a cumulative effect of incremental adjustments or situational collaboration. Neither will it result from a revelation of a Russian leader, no matter who this leader is likely to be a few years from now. At the end of the day, Russia’s foreign policy priorities will be defined by the economic and social development trajectory upon which the nation will embark once it has depleted the potential of the current development model.
Russia can definitely survive without the West generally, and without Europe in particular. It might even prosper without the West if global prices on oil and other commodities go up again and a new golden rain waters the national economy. It does not matter much to whom you sell your commodities—clients in the West or clients in the East, developed or developing nations, mature democracies or authoritarian regimes. With Russia’s rent-seeking economy in place, the West is not likely to reemerge as an indispensable partner for Moscow. Moreover, Russia can even stick to a neo-isolationist foreign policy, consistently trying to protect its citizens from the dangers and challenges of the globalizing world.
This foreign policy option will be even more probable if the overall international system evolves in the direction of more nationalism, protectionism, rigid balance of powers, continuous decay of international institutions and international law. If the name of game is survival rather than development, if the top national priority everywhere is security rather than development, then incentives to change anything will remain low.
However, let us suppose that the name of the game is not to maintain the rent-seeking economic model, but to pursue a strategy of encouraging deep structural economic reforms, promoting innovation and entrepreneurship, and unleashing the creative potential of the Russian people. Let us suppose that the modern liberal world order successfully overcomes the ongoing crisis and the international system move away from hard to soft power, from unilateralism to multilateralism, from closeness to openness. In this case connecting to the West, borrowing best Western practices, learning from Western mistakes is going to be a critical precondition for any successful Russian modernization. This has always been the case, ever since Italian architects supervised the erection of the red brick Kremlin walls in Moscow back in 1485.
Given all the uncertainties of future developments in Russia and in the West, it might make sense to define three time horizons for this very complex and uneasy relationship. Each of these has its own logic, priorities, goals, opportunities, and limitations. The first is about de-escalation, which involves a stable cease-fire in Donbass, moderation of inflammatory rhetoric on both sides, a truce in the information war, and resumption of political and military contacts and various levels. The second is about stabilization, including a more general political settlement in Ukraine along the lines of the Minsk Agreements, gradual removal of sanctions and countersanctions, a set of confidence-building measures in Europe, promotion of cooperation in areas of mutual concern (e.g. soft security), unilateral limitations on military deployments, and strengthening European regimes in humanitarian fields. Moving on to the third, long-term horizon, we should review and revise the idea of a Greater Europe that was unsuccessfully tried after the end of the Cold War; our second attempt should be based on lessons learned from the failure of the first attempt.
Sul pipeline Nord Stream 2 si embricano una multiforme serie di interessi non da poco.
Ma accanto ai grandi interessi, ve ne sono anche alcuni di microbica bottega, che però pesano.
L’ex-cancelliere Spd Schröder è attivo nel consiglio di amministrazione della società che gestisce il Nord Stream 1. Ma recentemente ha anche assunto un ruolo nel consiglio di amministrazione della Rosneft.
Ma si sa. C’è anche gente che si domanda perché lui due cariche ed altri nessuna.
Si pensi, tanto per fare un esempio, ad una cancelliera trombata alle elezioni ed in cerca di una tana sicura ove posare le ossa ad tre milioni l’anno. Ma servirebbe convincere prima Herr Schröder a dimettersi da un consiglio di amministrazione e quindi Mr Putin a concedere l’ambito seggio.
Ecco quindi che il Nord Stream 2 diventa immediatamente un progetto strategico per la Germania, ma anche con viva soddisfazione della Russia, tutta contenta nel constatare la dipendenza energetica della Germania.
Ma sul Nord Stream 2 vi sono anche altri appetiti.
«The German energy groups Uniper and Wintershall, Austria’s OMV, the Anglo-Dutch group Shell and France’s Engie have provided financial support to the 1,225-kilometer (760-mile) pipeline»
La Russia, in poche parole, non tirerebbe fuori un centesimo bucato, ma tedeschi, austriaci, olandesi e francesi sono su di una graticola non da poco: hanno preso impegni e versato le prime tranche e non stanno vedendo nulla indietro.
In questo momento Frau Merkel è al quarto mese di colloqui preliminari per appurare se poter quindi iniziare delle trattative per formare una eventuale Große Koalition. Senza un governo in carica, il Nord Stream 2 giace impotente: langue, generando perdite giorno dopo giorno.
Ma sono anche tempi grami da altri punti di vista.
«Beyond the key parliamentary budget committee … the chairmanships of the budget, legal affairs and tourism committees».
La Commissione Parlamentare per il Bilancio, unitamente a quella per gli affari legali sdaranno però chiamate ad esprimere pareri vincolanti sul Nord Stream 2, e corrono voci che tra Frau Merkel ed AfD non corra poi troppo buon sangue.
* * *
Orbene, tanto per cacciare ancora un po’ di benzina sul fuoco, Mr Tillerson e Mr Czaputowicz si son visti ed hanno parlato del più e del meno.
«The top diplomats from both countries want to limit Russian gas — in part because it gives Moscow political influence»
«But energy sales also drive the economy, which helps the Kremlin finance foreign military ventures»
«Like Poland, the United States opposes the Nord Stream 2 pipeline …. We share the view that it is necessary to diversify energy supplies into Europe»
* * * * * * * *
Il discorso non farebbe una piega se Mr Tillerson non avesse tenuto una famiglia di volpi sotto le ascelle.
Formalmente, nulla da eccepire.
Ma a pensar male si fa peccato anche se spesso ci si azzecca.
Fatto si è che le società petrolifere ed energetiche russe non sono mica dello stato russo: sono proprietà del Kremlin, che gestisce gli utili a piacer suo. Ed il Kremlin ha uno sguardo di tutto riguardo per gli armamenti.
Questa è anche la spiegazione di come faccia la Federazione Russa a mantenere delle forze armate quali quelle che ha con il modestissimo budget a bilancio statale: sessantasei miliardi di dollari americani.
A questo punto dovrebbe essere evidente la manovra che Mr Tillerson sta portando avanti dietro ordine del Presidente Trump.
Nulla nella vita reale è semplice né riducibile a slogan.
The top diplomats from both countries want to limit Russian gas — in part because it gives Moscow political influence. But energy sales also drive the economy, which helps the Kremlin finance foreign military ventures.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson expressed the US’s support for Poland’s position after meeting his counterpart, Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz, in Warsaw.
“Like Poland, the United States opposes the Nord Stream 2 pipeline,” Tillerson said during a news conference with Czaputowicz. “We see it as undermining Europe’s overall energy security and stability and providing Russia yet another tool to politicize energy as a political tool.”
Tillerson added: “Our opposition is driven by our mutual strategic interests.”
The undersea pipeline would be the second to deliver Russian gas directly to Western Europe via the Baltic Sea, bypassing the traditional land route through Ukraine and Poland.
“We share the view that it is necessary to diversify energy supplies into Europe,” Czaputowicz said.
Russia still provides two-thirds of Poland’s gas supply, but Warsaw started importing liquefied natural gas from the United States last year in its own bid to diversify its fuel supplies.
Closer military ties
Tillerson encouraged other European countries to follow suit and also voiced support for a pipeline connecting Poland and Norway, which Warsaw is developing with the aim of further limiting its dependency on Russia.
Poland, which spent four decades under Soviet rule, has been an EU member since 2004. Many officials consider Russia an existential threat, particularly after Moscow seized the Crimean Peninsula from neighboring Ukraine in 2014.
Poland’s northern neighbors — Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia — are also alarmed by Moscow’s aggression and Europe’s dependency on Russian energy supplies. But Germany and Austria have focused on the commercial benefits of importing cheap gas from Russia.
Separately, Tillerson and Czaputowicz pledged to enhance military cooperation, including increasing the US’s military presence — which currently numbers 5,000 across two separate missions related directly to the US and to NATO — in Poland.
“The stationing of American troops on our territory gives us, the Poles, a sense of security, and we are grateful for that,” Czaputowicz said. “We want this presence to be even bigger, and we want it to be permanent.”
Le riserve valutarie ammontano a 432.6 miliardi Usd: nel 2017 erano 408.8 al 29 giugno, e 377.7 mld il 12 gennaio.
«Gold Reserves in Russia increased to 1828.56 Tonnes in the fourth quarter of 2017 from 1778.86 Tonnes in the third quarter of 2017. Gold Reserves in Russia averaged 747.64 Tonnes from 2000 until 2017, reaching an all time high of 1828.56 Tonnes in the fourth quarter of 2017 and a record low of 343.41 Tonnes in the second quarter of 2000.»