Russia Is Far From Isolated

Following the ongoing Ukrainian crisis, much has been said about Russia’s “isolation” from the “international community.” Russia’s relations with the West, and particularly with the U.S., have clearly undergone a dramatic deterioration over the past six months. Russia has recently been subjected to a previously unimaginable litany of trade sanctions, asset freezes, and visa bans. However, the West is only one part of the world. Russia is strengthening its ties with many other important players on the international arena.

China

Firstly there is China. Beijing and Moscow’s signing of a landmark natural gas dealjoint naval exercises in the East China Sea, and cooperation in the United Nations over Syria and other international issues are illustrative of the growing bond between the two powers. More broadly, China and Russia share a general interest in curbing U.S. influence on the world stage and hastening the global transition from unipolarity to multipolarity. It is worth noting that in no short measure, close alignment between Beijing and Moscow would accelerate the decline of U.S. relative power and hinder Washington’s capacity to influence international politics. A serious rapprochement between Russia and China has the potential to change the strategic calculus of the United States in ways reminiscent of the challenge to Britain in the late nineteenth century.

Latin America

Furthermore, Russia is building closer ties with fellow BRICS countries. In contrast to the West, where Russia’s annexation of Crimea was greeted with near-universal outrage among all major political parties and interest groups, Brazil, India, China and South Africa have collectively reacted to Russia’s recent actions with a shrug. While the West wants to punish, isolate, and contain Russia, the BRICS vocally and openly support cooperation with it in an ever-greater number of fields. The BRICS are even going so far as to create a development bank that would function as an of analogue to the IMF or World Bank.

On his current visit to Latin America, President Vladimir Putin signed a series of agreements on nuclear energy in Argentina. The nuclear agreements will see the Russian atomic energy corporation Rosatom get involved in the construction of units in Argentina’s nuclear Atucha 3 power plant. In addition, Russia and Cuba signed about a dozen accords in areas such as energy, industry, health and disaster prevention. Russian companies will participate in petroleum projects around Boca de Jaruco on the island’s north coast, and that cooperation will extend to offshore oil deposits. Putin said: “Today, co-operation with Latin American states is one of the key and promising lines of Russia’s foreign policy.”

Middle East

Iran has also decided to build closer ties with Russia and China.  It was announced recently that Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani agreed that Moscow would build two additional nuclear power plants for Tehran and construct new facilities next to Iran’s power plant in the city of Bushehr. The Ukrainian crisis makes both Russia and the Islamic Republic much closer due to the convergence of interests and geopolitical objectives between Putin and Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in resisting Western hegemony in the Middle East. Secondly, both Russia and Iran are attempting to establish themselves as key and influential geopolitical and strategic players in the region. The consolidation of Russia’s and Iran’s strategic depth in the area is combined with their shared objective of withstanding the Western powers.

In Egypt, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi personally told Putin that he is ready for close cooperation with Russia on bilateral issues and on the international agenda. The two leaders agreed to maintain active contacts and exchange visits at the top level.  Both Russia and Egypt have put particular effort into intensifying their military-to-military contacts. Russia and Egypt have also agreed to conduct joint counterterrorism exercises involving Russian paratroopers.

In addition, Russia is currently helping the Iraqi government in its fight with ISIS. The first delivery of Russian Sukhoi fighter jets arrived in Iraq a few weeks ago with more help expected to arrive in the near future.

Russia is not isolated

The simple truth is that, far from being “isolated,” Russia continues to enjoy good relations with most of the world and particularly those parts of the world that are demographically and economically dynamic. In fact, it could be argued that it is the West that is becoming less important on the international arena. Despite still being a superpower, the United States is slowly losing its influence and Europe is following in the same footsteps. Therefore Russia will rightly not worry about any isolation from the West. Russia’s many other friends will happily reach out instead.

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Categories: Europe

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