Posted 29 ноября 2021, 15:58
Published 29 ноября 2021, 15:58
Modified 25 декабря 2022, 20:57
Updated 25 декабря 2022, 20:57
Liliya Shevtsova, political analyst
The world was at a loss, not understanding how to respond to global challenges. In a situation of confusion, three world players - the United States, China and Russia - are trying to shape their global role.
America is abandoning (perhaps temporarily) the forcible advancement of democracy and concentrating on its restructuring. True, by convening the World Forum for Democracy in December, Biden is trying to prove that liberal values remain the principle of American politics. But the energy of his administration is focused on something else: finding a balance between containing global opponents and dialogue with them.
China has been successful in its rise through economic expansion. But the surging self-confidence and the frenzied increase in military power played a cruel joke with China. The West was alarmed, and the United States was forced to group up to respond. In ten out of thirteen European countries, respondents express a negative attitude towards China (in the United States, 79% of respondents have a negative attitude towards China).
But Beijing retains the ability to use two instruments of influence - culture and economic potential. The irony is that 50% of Americans consider China to be the world's leading economic power (37% consider the United States to be such a power). Beijing has toned down its aggressive diplomacy and has a chance to hinder Western opposition.
Russia demonstrates a different model of self-assertion. In Putin's words, Russia has become a "tension factor" on the world stage. It's not just about Russia-Spoiler, which draws attention to itself in order to prevent the main players from getting theirs. It's not just about Moscow's readiness for the "who blinks first" fun. The Kremlin is creating an alternative to the Western order, creating a situation of uncertainty with the expectation of a military threat. A kind of impressionism: the threat hangs in the air and can materialize in any form, at any time and not only on the borders of Russia. But the threat does not at all impede dialogue with opponents about the cost of mitigating it.
On the one hand, there were about 3000 military incidents (!) Between Russia and NATO from 2013 to 2020. But on the other hand, Putin and Western leaders are quietly negotiating and seeking agreement on common challenges. Putin and Biden are preparing for the next summit.
The West, at a loss, is trying to understand what is on Putin's mind. In order to understand, you need to talk to the Kremlin and not irritate the Kremlin unnecessarily. For example, Biden's people are now trying to prevent the Senate from including new sanctions against Nord Stream 2 in the annual US defense budget. In the meantime, the Kremlin can enjoy the global hysteria it has provoked.
Efforts to create the attractiveness of Russia have been completed. Moscow is showing its willingness to break the windows. Not surprisingly, 66% of respondents in 14 countries speak of their negative attitude towards Russia. But who cares about this in Russia? The Kremlin forms the image of the state, which sets its own "red lines" for others. The ability to escalate can bring the Kremlin the desired result faster than the image of a level-headed partner.
Russia in the role of "geopolitical Hitchcock" paralyzes opponents. So, a misunderstanding, what is Moscow's goal in concentrating troops on the borders with Ukraine - will attack - will not attack? - does not give the West an opportunity to give an adequate answer. This requires an understanding of the Kremlin's intentions. "We're not sure what Putin is going to do," says US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. "We have no clarity about Moscow's intentions," said State Department chief Anthony Blinken. “Russia is ready to invade Ukraine,” says Bloomberg. The West hangs in confusion between the need to respond and its unwillingness to respond to provoke Moscow. Moreover, it is not clear: is the threat a phantom or not?
But the Russian strategy of "tension" has its side effects. First, such a policy undermines the survival of the Russian rentier class by transferring its funds to the West. Second, there are problems of using the West as a resource for the Russian state. Third, the West is forced to begin militarization. Even inert Europe, accustomed to the American security umbrella, began to reflect on its defenses. The EU has just prepared a "Strategic Security and Defense Compass", which involves the creation of an EU military contingent to counter threats from Russia.
What do we end up with? The United States and China are trying to stake out a dominant role in the 21st century through economic transformation and technological breakthroughs. Biden aspires to be the father of American transformation. Xi Jinping dreams of making China the world's "creative force." The dialogue between Biden and Xi Jinping speaks not only of the contradictions between China and the United States, but also of the attempts of their leaders to find a peaceful way to govern them. Confrontation between the United States and China (and any other confrontation) threatens to undermine their desire to reach a new level of economic progress. By the way, China did not send its troops to participate in the West-2021 military maneuvers, so as not to frighten Europe with an aggressive grin. Beijing is clearly in no hurry to participate in Russia's "tension" policy; but this country would not mind playing on the contrast with Moscow in order to form his positive image.
Russia, on the other hand, is trying to preserve its global role by threatening to undermine the status quo anywhere in the world at any time. The Russian government needs a global role in order to compensate for its inability to ensure the revival of Russia through internal changes.
Rhetorical question: who will win and who will lose in this global race?
PS. Do not forget that by creating a situation of "tension", Moscow is reviving the West's lost readiness to confront.
PPS. And one more thing: what if the omicron wave overwhelms us and world leaders lose control of the situation? In this case, these geopolitical games will lose their meaning and only one will remain - the struggle for survival.