Translated from GegenStandpunkt 1-2008
9 years of Vladimir Putin
Announcements of competition from Russia
At the end of his term as President, Putin was named 2007 Man of the Year, which, as Time magazine specifically emphasizes, is not meant as a compliment; Hitler and Stalin had also been honored in this way in their time. As the subtle historical reference suggests, the importance accorded to Putin and the assessment of his achievements are therefore rather negative: first, he is accused of reverting to a state economy, violating the rules of the market economy and the freedom of property; second, he is seen as being on the road to dictatorship once again; and third, he is resented for his displays of great power posturing toward his neighbors and the rest of the world. Putin deserves these accusations because, first, he wants to make capitalist wealth production work for his state; second, he is building up a powerful state apparatus; and third, he demands respect from the world of states for both. And anyone who, as a statesman, sets out to do something like this and puts it into practice has drawn up a combative program that ranges from asserting himself in competition on the world market to participating in imperialist conflicts of the highest order.
Constructing capitalism in its own country
The economic suffering that has afflicted Russia is not the result of defeats in a career on the world market; Russia is not damaged by globalization; it wants to join the world market in the first place. Russia’s suffering is due rather to the turnaround that the leaders of the Soviet Union carried out in an extraordinary fit of self-criticism of their rule. They wanted to figure out how they could spare themselves the costly enmity of the West; they wanted to switch to a relationship based on partnership with their opponents and get access to the advantages of the world market, which they had previously excluded themselves from due to communist stubbornness, and in doing so had initiated what was probably the fastest decline of a world power without a hot war. The idea that all the elements for the production of wealth were abundantly available in Russia except for capital, so that it was only a matter of liberating the Russian factors of production from their planned economy corset and handing them over to well financed private initiative; that the experts for effective money making would only have to be allowed to run business in order to provide state power with a more productive economic basis – this calculation has been thoroughly discredited.
Putin stood for the correction of this mistake. In 10 years of Yeltsin, capitalistic prospecting confirmed that the real socialist inventory was largely unusable for any profit making suitable for competing on the world market, its productive use suspended, and the foundations of social reproduction destroyed. After the nation suddenly became impoverished, the state power became deprived of its economic means and forced to declare bankruptcy, which included the ruble crisis in which it discovered that its money was actually no good at all, a certain need for political action was inevitable. The division between rich and poor that the founders of capitalism brought about in Russia was not beneficial to the state on either side: alongside a handful of fortune hunters who managed to appropriate the sources of raw materials and have their wealth circulate in the form of capital flight, the people went to rack and ruin; due to lack of use, they became dependent on adventurous forms of subsistence for their survival and were declared a new object of international charity. With the transfer of power to Putin, it was clear that a different use of state power was necessary in order to enforce the services that property owes after its empowerment. Political power became active as the midwife of a functioning capitalist society.
A show trial for the right relationship between capital and the state
The second Russian President had noticed that the development of private initiative on Russian soil was tantamount to expropriation: the minority empowered to exercise its capital power not only tried to protect the profits earned from the export of raw materials from the grasp of state power and a hyper-inflationary ruble, but also to have the property titles – the nation’s sources of wealth – transferred to foreign ownership. This was not how the market economy was imagined in Russia, with its own state budget becoming an item on the balance sheets of oil multinationals like an oriental sheikdom. For the self-assertion of the Russian state, Putin first put a stop to the selling off of sources of national wealth. In the Yukos legal precedent, a power struggle with a wayward version of a Russian capitalist class was fought out: by using the law, the weapon of politics, the economic power of the oligarchs was made to function in a way that serves the state; the Russian state ensured that ownership of the strategic raw materials remained in national hands, under national control, and that it collected the tribute payments required for its financial resources from the newly installed capitalist class. In the Yukos case, the political access of property to state power – buying civil servants, elections, Duma majorities, and a political leadership to meet its needs – was punished in an exemplary manner. The wealthy representatives of private property also had to bow to the political rulers and the legal system they had enacted, i.e. to fit into an order without which the better system would swing more in the direction of a banana republic or the Wild West. Even Western observers were vividly reminded of such conditions just a few years ago.
Capitalization by engaging the world market
“Our country cannot maintain the status of a superpower if it relies solely on the size of its territory and the wealth of its natural resources ... Way out number one – produce competitive products and conquer the world markets.” (Sergei Ivanov, quoted in ÖMZ 4/2007, 493)
The first thing Russian capitalism under state direction did was to make money from raw material exports. The state obtained its funds through pro rata access to the proceeds, which it directed primarily to servicing its debt. Due to the extraordinary quantity and diversity of natural resources on Russian soil and the favorable global situation, which was driving up energy prices, it managed to buy its way out of debt; a rather unique case. Russia left the category of states whose sources of wealth are forever pledged to foreign creditors.
The second item on the agenda of the real total capitalist in the Kremlin was the transformation of money into capital on Russian soil: The raw materials business was to be expanded as far as possible in order to gain the means to start up other business spheres and to emancipate the nation from the status of a raw materials country.
The Russian “great game”
Russia set out to build itself into an energy powerhouse. It wanted to make itself indispensable as a supplier on the world market and turn global energy needs into a source of money for its national capitalization. This program began with a redefinition of competitive conditions and new demands on foreign partners. Internally, the remaining state-owned companies and oligarchs who were willing to cooperate were encouraged to set up Russian multinationals or merged into a capital size suitable for expansion, which allowed for further acquisitions in the energy sector, investments in development projects and transportation routes. Old contracts from the Yeltsin era, in which foreign investors were able to set terms to their liking, were revised; national control over business and its direction, over the use of earnings and other development projects was secured through strategic majorities. The program was supplemented by offering foreign capital participation under these politically redefined business conditions, with a contribution to capital size and with its know-how to achieve productivity and profitability.
Just like the highly merged corporations in the West, Russian companies were given the task of conquering foreign markets: Russian capitals also wanted to be able to serve themselves ‘closer to the consumer,’ buy into wider, more lucrative business spheres, and form alliances to dominate the market through capital integration. Especially in Europe – as its ‘natural energy supplier,’ they wanted to take advantage of the enormous market and its outstanding solvency for their own growth.
The fact that the mere supplier plays a rather modest role in the competition was quickly noticed by the politicians who had converted to capitalism. Since then, they have been pursuing, among other things, the proposal from Iran to establish a gas OPEC, a cartel of suppliers that would strengthen their weight in determining the price of energy as a commodity and in setting trading conditions. This did not make Russia very popular with the nations it wanted to supply, nor did the efforts it was making to establish functional roles for Russian business in its neighborhood: The Central Asian gas and oil producers, who are crucially dependent on Russia for the transportation and marketing of their goods – the most important transport routes run through Russian territory and they themselves have only very limited means to keep production and transportation going – were pressured into contracts in which they were supposed to grant Russia certain exclusive rights to their main export product. The transit states west of Russia, which in turn are more or less completely dependent on Russia for their energy supplies, were expected to get used to prices moving toward world market prices. And if their national ability to pay was not sufficient, Russia offered them the market-based way of paying their debts by transferring the national branches of their relevant infrastructure to Russian ownership. Corresponding disputes with Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Armenia, and Georgia revived interstate relations in the CIS.
However, Russian state representatives and corporations had long been traveling beyond the borders of the CIS in order to secure market dominance. Russian capital was being exported in all directions; nations in need or suffering under America’s terms received offers to develop their raw materials industry and energy production. And with its development intentions, Russia also advanced into areas that had yet to be defined, occupied, and claimed as property. It laid claim to two thirds of the Arctic, applying the constructions of maritime law to an extensive underwater mountain range, sent an expedition there, and didn’t not miss an opportunity to let its stressed out people participate in this technologically ambitious enterprise on every television channel.
“Diversification,” the capitalist development of the interior
The Russian state power had no intention of coming to terms with the widespread disinterest shown by domestic and foreign capital in the masses of the nation, in the industrial legacy of the Soviet era, and in spheres of production other than raw materials extraction. As the nation’s potential resources fell into disuse, its means of power finally dwindled; starting with the people who had been promoted to the status of free wage laborers, who were neglected due to a lack of use and decimated at an unprecedented rate, all the way to the industrial equipment that was decaying, and to the infrastructure necessary to maintain the continental land mass in a condition in which it remains accessible and usable. So the state power took the capitalist subsumption of its shattered productive foundation into its own hands, took care of creating the conditions that make the people’s poverty useful, and transferred it to capitalistic management. This much has been learned in the meantime: only if a business can be made out of all living conditions can something like a regulated reproduction of society be set in motion again, and only on this basis can the nation ultimately make itself legally competent in the broader sense for using the world market.
The political power made the foundation of national accumulation its business. It obliged the expanding energy companies to revive other branches of production in the country with their solvent demand. In addition, it appeared as a state monopoly capitalist itself, established a capitalist class in the civil service, forged corporations, merged fragmented companies into holding companies, and mobilized state revenues from the export of raw materials as credit. A development bank was endowed with credit power in order to provide the capital advance to finance the holding companies and other state programs within the framework of the decided on “national projects.” Branches of industry were reactivated because they were believed to be internationally competitive and/or because they are essential for equipping a political capacity for action of a higher kind, so that much of the inventory of the former Soviet world power was put back into operation. The arms industry, shipbuilding, the aircraft industry, space, communications and satellite technology, nuclear technology and mechanical engineering, nanotechnology, etc., were identified as objects of state maintenance. In addition, the existing scientific potential was mobilized, the numerous research and development facilities were brought back into shape in order to prove themselves in the service of innovations ready for the global market; and the national infrastructure was to be brought up to a competitive level as a decisive location condition.
Russia also wanted to attract foreign capital and lenders for this somewhat ambitious program, while at the same time securing a basis independent of the business and political accounts of foreign partners. The policy therefore made a distinction between “strategic” spheres in which state ownership of majority shares guaranteed national control, and made offers for participation and entered into joint ventures on this basis, and others in which majority ownership in foreign hands was also approved. Under these conditions, foreign capital was invited to participate in the development and utilization of Russian production factors with its financial resources, productivity techniques, and profitability standards. The country was to be turned into an investment sphere with attractive location conditions, at particular preferential prices for energy; on the other hand, the foreign business world was encouraged to have more production take place on Russian soil by increasing export tariffs on raw materials and special customs regulations for production in special zones. With the result that the Russian government could now report increasing appreciation of its location as a means of foreign business: The times of endemic capital flight were over, capital inflows were increasing.
With this political-economic program, the new Russia announced its emergence as a future market, financially strong partner and competitor. Russia was on its way to establishing itself as an export nation capable of competing on the world market in order to secure a growing share of the “global economy”; it was upgrading itself as a location for globalized business and, conversely, unleashing Russian capital on the world in order to ultimately turn Russian money into an internationally sought after commodity. The next stage in the competition had been set: To commit growing shares of international business to the ruble so that its international usefulness would give its creator an increasing freedom to borrow in its own currency. Progress could be achieved without competition with the established world currencies; the custodians of Russian money were encouraged in this endeavor by the losses that the Russian foreign exchange treasury was suffering due to the decline of the dollar.
A final condition of accumulation: the people and the demographic question
The former working people had completely spared their authorities one problem during the entire period: there were no social uprisings in the land of the October Revolution, only nationalist turmoil and neglect, so that the state of the mass of people intended as a working class had a negative impact in a different way. While the trend in other nations reliably and steadily moved towards a disposable overpopulation, the production of poverty had been so successful in the course of the so-called “transformation” in Russia that, as in the days of early capitalism, there was often not enough of this resource available: in spheres where business was picking up; in the many tasks that had to be carried out to cultivate the land, but where the old occupation, which made up for poor or no pay with its inherited sense of duty, was slowly dying out; finally, in the military. As in the days of the Prussian Soldier King, the Minister of Defense appeared before the National Assembly as a witness to the fact that the human material provided to him by society was all below standards in terms of quantity and physical quality. The Russian people got the bill for the transformation, in the uncontrolled course of which their food was no longer guaranteed in the real socialist way, but in which, due to the lack of capitalist employment, they were also unable to purchase it, with a shocking drop in life expectancy and a corresponding population decline; the next generation due to enter working life had been cut in half.
Under the second President, this phenomenon was also seen as a sign of the nation’s weakness that must not be tolerated. Appropriate programs insisted that capitalist business provide the necessities of life: State programs organized subsidies for housing, education, and health, so that the necessities of life also serve as a suitable business basis for a domestic market. Above all, however, the outgoing President praised the bonuses for having children, which made the competition in Europe look old by comparison. In addition, the politicians enacted immigration laws that offer a home to the numerous Russians scattered throughout the CIS, along with their fertility rate.
In its own way, Russia’s reconstruction provides a vivid demonstration of how much state power is needed to get a market economy going, how much violence is part of the basic equipment in the new realm of freedom and, conversely, how stupid the political salvation doctrine is that the state should keep out of the economy – this is Putin’s achievement, for which he is being criticized. The Western public, equipped with enemy image reflexes like Pavlov’s dog, wants more and more to discover a “return to a state economy,” the longer real socialism is buried and the more the capitals of all nations cavort in Russia. The interested point of view is that the emergence of a competitor must be based on the use of unfair means, to which the official government announcements contribute, according to which Russia is starting one dispute after another.
The program of staging capitalism on Russian soil in order to transform the nation into a source of wealth and power has become a competition between business locations. It is the competition with and for money that can be “made” at home and abroad, at the expense of nations that engage in cooperation with the same calculations; the project is therefore not possible without the corresponding conflicts with the economically powerful opponents. There is a lot to negotiate in terms of what services can be expected from the competitors and, conversely, what the Russian business location has to offer. In recent years, the most publicized have been the collisions, complaints about breaches of contract, lack of respect for foreign property, etc., as well as calls for a fair response from Europe against the immoral attempts by Russian companies to buy into Europe. The dispute goes from one round to the next. A second error of the first generation of Soviet reformers has thus been emphatically refuted: the idea that by withdrawing one’s own hostility to the capitalist system, one would be welcomed on the world market and among its organizers. No way: Russia is only welcome to the extent that it proves to be useful.
Re-establishing state power through war, reconstituting the monopoly on violence, rearming in the matter of nationalism
A state power that fixes up a national capitalism needs stability at home. German business representatives and colleagues from other Western countries certainly appreciate Putin’s achievements in this area; they have complained long enough about the lack of legal certainty in the Yeltsin government. Nevertheless, the Russian President has mainly received insults from the Western media as an anti-democrat. At home, on the other hand, he has achieved increasing popularity records: The fact that order must first be established so that then social issues can be take care of is an insight with which he charges through open doors with his working people, who have been well educated into citizens by the previous system.
A war to found a state
The creation of stability appropriately began with a war: Yeltsin’s successor put clarification of the sovereignty question at the top of the agenda. The leaders of various Soviet peoples, who were mobilized by Yeltsin under the title of democracy against the rule of the CPSU and promoted to participants in the competition for power, set out on a liberation struggle against the Moscow headquarters and also against each other – in his final speech, Putin recalled that the “subjects of the federation” had engaged in “more than 2000 territorial disputes” among themselves. In Chechnya, where militant secessionists had come to power in the name of Islam, war was waged for so long and so thoroughly that the uprising was successfully brought under the definition of terrorism and suppressed, reduced to a gang operation, and the Russian southern border was militarily fortified; an important success also with regard to the neighboring trouble spots in Georgia. Using the same method that the USA is currently trying out in Iraq, an autochthonous gang is being empowered as the local authority, which, in its own interest, takes over the central power’s task of keeping the remaining resistance in check or eliminating it. In this arena, proof is provided that the Russian Federation cannot be dismantled any further; with as much terror as necessary to deter any party pursuing similar aspirations from opposing Moscow’s claim to an undisputed monopoly on violence. The republics that were thought to be the next candidates for a war of independence have since limited themselves to negotiating special conditions in Moscow.
Since then, the free West has been concerned about the state of human rights, especially in the Caucasus; and the casualties incurred in ending hostage-taking by Chechen fighters are usually blamed on the Russian state power.
In order to share powers, they must first exist
This did not end the need for violence in a reconstituted nation. In order to eliminate the defects which, in the opinion of the rulers, prevent the people, economic life, and political life from dutifully fulfilling their functions for the desired capitalism; in order to subordinate political power struggles to a central authority; in order to correct the unwelcome results of unleashing private enrichment, the entire state system had to be comprehensively brought under rigid control. The ruling power enacted the necessary law, imposed the “dictatorship of the law” on its nation, and ensured its execution: the creation of a “power vertical.” Potentially separatist governors, regions that compete against each other with territorial claims, subordinate powers that pass different laws and assume powers that, from Moscow’s point of view, are not entitled to them, oligarchs who buy election victories and regions in order to pass the laws they need, civil servants who use their participation in power to benefit themselves from society – this decomposed and privatized power apparatus is being brought into line in a hierarchy of command. Governors are selected by Moscow, nominated for election and held accountable to the President’s special envoys. State authorities and apparatuses are committed to the execution of the state program, to a uniform raison d'état, by prosecuting deviations; in addition, the central office monopolizes the collection of money and allocates financial resources according to its specifications. On the basis of rising state revenues, staffs are increasingly being funded and obedience rewarded as much as possible.
The fight against corruption remains part of the program and regularly affects high ranking and senior officials. In this way, even ordinary Russians realize what a blessing the dictatorship of the law is, which elsewhere, in functioning constitutional states, is simply called the “rule of law.”
Modernization of the political class ...
Contrary to Western opinion, the decision to establish democracy has not been overturned by the rebuilding of state power. The vast majority of the ruling class in Russia is still convinced of the superiority of the Western system and its methods of forming political will and organizing consent, and is trying to copy elections, the party landscape, and the public sphere. The copy merely turns out to be somewhat different from the original; after all, the class state in the West took around a century to domesticate class interests into popular parties which are then indistinguishable in terms of their will to make a state in the name of a successful raison d'état, while at the same time offering voters points of reference for their particular tastes. There is no time for that in Russia: one has the result in mind and wants to immediately start with it.
“I would like to see a responsible social democratic element in the Russian political scene. Not a relic from the past like the CPRF, but a real modern left-wing party. A party on the left with social-democratic elements. I will continue to work to achieve the goal, regardless of the fact that I will certainly support ‘United Russia’ in the upcoming elections.” (Putin, Valdai meeting)
Instead of this party landscape, in which everyone responsibly occupies the center, the Russian head of state has before him a political class with two extremes that are not at all productive for the execution of the raison d'état he is pursuing. On the one hand, there are the “Liberals,” those from the team of politicians who came to power under Yeltsin, who bitterly misjudge his state-building program as a betrayal of the market economy and democracy and can therefore only marginally win votes in Russia, but are kept alive by foreign countries. On the other side is the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, the only party with a real membership base, which is very impressed by the order that Putin has created, but does not want to give up the idea that the people are entitled to many more rights to Soviet institutions than the current leadership wants to grant them. Against this competition, which wants a different state, the ruling team is defining a kind of Russian constitutional arc, a party consensus, in order to exclude dissenters. The President is doing his best during the election campaign to make it impossible for them to be an electoral force.
On the other hand, efforts are being made to create a constructive competition so that a viable opposition can also be formed, one that acknowledges the dissatisfaction among the people, commits them to electing an alternative government, and thus processes it in a way that supports the state: A desirable force would credibly take the issue of social justice away from the “relic of the past,” the CPRF, and reconcile it with the rationality of the market economy. The head of state has already ordered the formation of an SPD for the second time, but unfortunately the majority of Russian voters are still not mature enough for this and prefer to vote for Putin’s Party of Power – a title that is not yet a tautology in Russia.
In this sphere, too, the founders of a modern Russian democracy use the law as a lever to produce the desired functions. Putin’s party laws, which ironically are said in this country to be intended to stifle democracy once and for all, actually copy the formal rules for a people’s party, such as a nationwide presence, minimum membership figures, state funding only with a minimum percentage, nomination of candidates only on the basis of party lists, etc., etc. They are intended to end the situation in which parliaments are predominantly populated by “independent candidates” who are elected for the privileges, money, power and the parliamentary immunity associated with this and then act as lobbyists for a region, a company, or changing paying clients. So far, the contradiction of a raison d'état that mandates party pluralism before there are interests that set themselves up as a party has been noticeable. Aspirants to a career as representatives of the people should now be encouraged to acquire a certain degree of political ability through the salutary compulsion of party work or founding a party.
In any case, the ruling team of politicians is already so familiar with the techniques that a democratic election process, including its cult of leadership, has to offer that Putin’s successor be decided in advance in the form of an exemplary crown prince arrangement. In this way, the continuity of the state line is also ensured against the competition, which is so elementary in every developed democracy that the urgent desire of an electorate for a “change” is limited entirely to the question of visage.
... and freedom of speech
The legal provisions for responsible voting and popular representation are supplemented by institutions for forming opinions. Separate bodies for state-supporting criticism are set up, such as the Social Chamber, a genuinely Russian NGO. Television is re-nationalized, traditional associations are tasked with organizing culture and propagating values. The need for public spirit is as urgent as the hierarchy in society and the divide between rich and poor. After all, the morality of the people inherited from the previous system is put to a severe test when they have to experience the change from a fairly moderate but highly equal provision to the free development of outrageous wealth in the face of mass impoverishment. Since the critical faculties of the masses, who for a long time were unable to discover any authority that had brought this upon them due to sheer disregard for their rights, are limited entirely to the call for order and responsible leadership, relatively little re-education is required to recapture the offended sense of justice of the masses. It is certainly not about clarifying certain differences in the system. Rather, the belief in the rights that honorable working people actually have and which they are being cheated from by a gang of oligarchs and hired traitors to the fatherland is used and repurposed, together with the hope for more mass prosperity, translated into trust in a leadership that has smoked out the scum and has already decisively led the nation out of the greatest crisis of all.
Russia has also taken an example from the civilized world of states when it comes to the democratic function of public spirit, the benefit of values that keep people happy and united, and has long since made amends for the old regime’s mistake of trying to compete with the opium of the people with something like a scientific worldview. All four foundations of meaning recognized as state religions are equally lawful; Orthodoxy in particular is enthroned with pomp and dignity, with the rulers demonstratively bowing to their people and their supposedly ineradicable traditions. The Russian President can therefore calmly counter the accusation that religious freedom is in a bad state in Russia by asking whether the editors of Time Magazine are not aware of the wide range of religions in Russia.
After all, the nation itself also wants to be adored without embellishment, and the President explains his need for national pride like a manipulation theory put into practice:
“It is my conviction that our country will take its deserved place in the world, and we will be able to preserve our statehood and our sovereignty, only when our citizens see and feel for themselves and are confident that all of the state’s endeavors aim at protecting their vital interests, at improving their lives and bringing them greater prosperity and security. Only when our people are able to feel proud of their country. Each citizen should feel that he is a part of the nation, involved in its fate.” (Annual Address to the Federal Assembly, April 26, 2007)
The new Russian nationalism is being nurtured, national pride is being encouraged as much as possible, and Soviet nostalgia can be easily tapped into – every missile fired is celebrated, and the annual troop parade with rockets will soon take place again in Moscow. The same thing is also done as entertainment, with art movies and the Olympics. There is a lot to be repaired in the area of national pride; after all, a nation that is on its way back to becoming a world power must be able to rely unreservedly on its people. Especially when its program meets with so little requited love in the world of nations.
From the dubious appreciation shown to Russia for dismantling Soviet power to the demand for respect for the new power
The remodeled Russia has been promoted to a participant in the G8, to an interlocutor with NATO; it is allowed to have a say in many European bodies, in the Council of Europe, in the OSCE, and therefore enjoys the recognition of its Western partners, albeit with a very clear objective: Western sympathy for the new power is aimed at winding down the Soviet Union, insisting on the destruction of the remaining resources according to the principle that the legal successor must never again be able to grow into a serious power. Here, too, Putin has corrected an error which the Soviet leaders used to justify their turnaround. While they had firmly believed that by turning to the right system of market economy and democracy they could once and for all secure good relations in which recognition of their power would be included and guaranteed, Russian leadership in the Yeltsin years instead had to take in that good relations could only be achieved at the price of continued disempowerment of the Russian state. The recognition shown to Russia by the West is calculated to “irreversibly” establish and perpetuate Russian impotence, and is therefore subject to permanent reservations.
In all its steps to re-establish itself as a competitive nation and potent power, Russian policy has been faced with the fact that the Western countries continue to insist on their right to disempower Russia. They take the principled position toward Russia that in every issue the Russian side must put up with a continual review process; everything Russia intends to do is treated as a matter that requires Western authorization. In this way, all Russian interests are contested externally, while internally a lot of rules governing the conduct of the Russian state are laid down.
In its economic development, Russia is confronted with the dogma that free world trade is incompatible with its efforts to secure the right of disposal over its sources of wealth. Western countries are demanding that Russia allow the free movement of capital according to Western tastes, stop its unfair competition in the form of state-owned companies, relinquish its positions of power in the energy sector, and rely on market forces that have the right of capital accumulated in the West on their side. Under the general accusation that Russia is abusing the energy business as a political weapon, America is taking loving care of the independence of Russia’s neighbors, whose energy flows or supplies must be diverted. At the same time, America also protects Europe from too much dependence by actively objecting to transport lines which Russia wants to use to free itself from the recalcitrance of the transit countries. Conversely, Russia’s application to enter the world market is met with stubborn resistance. New obstacles are constantly being put on the table in the negotiations on accession to the WTO, and the more America drags them out, the more nations discover obstacles that Russia has to remove. In addition, America is still, or again, maintaining lists with restrictions on certain trade goods; legal disputes over the seizure of Yukos assets keep boiling up; other nations are following suit and seizing Russian assets abroad as part of legal disputes. The clarification that business transactions with Russian companies are associated with such risks hinders or makes it more expensive for Russia to use Western markets and stock exchanges. With the debate about the dangerous financial power of sovereign wealth funds and the threat posed by Gazprom in particular, Russia is being defined as a single security risk to Europe’s energy supply, and a lot of reservations and restrictions are being built into European policy toward Russia.
Politically, Russia faces a permanent tribunal in which the legitimacy of Russian governance is attacked at the procedural level. In addition, no stone is left unturned to bring pro-American figures to power. The free West organizes NGOs, a media, nominates candidates for Russian elections and has them covered around the clock by its television crews after the Russian media neglects its duty in this regard. The foreign sponsors insist on nothing but complete freedom for their 5th column and explain time and time again that democracy consists in their power to expose the state power in Russia with opposition figures of their choice: Russia is harassing its opposition and its people as ever.
The demand for human rights, for separatists as well, supports tendencies toward disintegration; political groups that Russia classifies as terrorists are sheltered in Western countries where they are allowed to continue their activities and are ready to serve their hosts’ respective interests in meddling. Russia’s attempts to consolidate power within its own sphere of influence, to retain the Near Abroad as a zone of influence, or to create something similar, are attacked by America. Inherited rights are undermined, claims in the name of venerable national rights such as those of Russian minorities in other countries, vital interests, or a need for security on national borders are rejected, attempts to repair things are not accepted, and met with prohibitions and countermeasures by the USA; Russia is not entitled to a backyard, a Monroe Doctrine for Eurasia. In its entire environment, Russia has to deal with the machinations of the USA, which has not only established itself as a protective power for the energy independence of its neighbors, but also as the authority responsible for promoting their democratization – in order to remove them from Russia’s political reach and cut Russia off from all possible external resources in the vicinity of its neighboring states. Ideally, America would deploy its vassals there. In reality, new examples of failing states appear that are characterized by ongoing internal power struggles, and they thereby become quite useless for Russian security and other interests.Militarily, Russia must register how it is being gradually encircled by the USA, starting with NATO’s eastward expansion all the way to US bases in Central Asia, which were justified by the war on terror in Afghanistan, but are calculated to do much more, to color revolutions planned as a preliminary stage for NATO’s next advance toward the Russian border. Russian complaints about this strategic encirclement are ignored, not answered at all, or given offers of talks until Russia understands everything and the strategic encirclement by the USA has created new facts. The treaty partner does not feel in the least bound by earlier assurances in it advances. The promises that were made as part of the 2+4 negotiations on the conditions for German reunification have long since been rendered null and void. The NATO states have graciously deigned to recognize the fact that the balance of power has been somewhat revolutionized since all Russia’s former allies switched over to their side, and have “accommodated” the CFE Treaty, in which NATO and the Warsaw Pact agreed to limits on conventional weapons on their fronts in Europe. However, since then they have taken the liberty of ignoring the ceilings and reinforcement rules negotiated in Istanbul by not even ratifying the entire CFE Treaty. Instead, on the occasion of the second Chechen war in 2000, the NATO states decided to make ratification conditional on Russia withdrawing its military forces from Transnistria, Abkhazia, and South Ossetia. In doing this, NATO and the USA simply granted themselves the right to pursue their military build-ups in the new member states unhindered by Russian co-determination, any ceilings or restrictions on the presence of foreign troops, or on the deployment of strategic elements. On the other hand, they demanded that Russia – if it wants to retain any prospect of its treaty right to have a say recognized by the other side at some point – renounce its role as a regulatory power in the CIS: The NATO states worked to deprive legitimacy under international law to Russian military forces which have observed the relevant ceasefire agreements since the end of the civil wars in Transnistria, Abkhazia, and South Ossetia, and brings them close to an illegitimate occupation. This denies Russia’s authority to install itself as an arbitrator and supervisory authority in the state-founding conflicts in its immediate vicinity.
At the same time, the USA is stepping up its arms efforts in order to create a strategic distance from the rest of the world that is as unassailable as possible and, in particular, from its former partner in terms of a strategic balance. The deployment of a global missile defense system, which also includes launching pads and a radar site in Poland and the Czech Republic, is of course also aimed at defusing Russia’s deterrence capability. Since the fall of communism and, even more so, since the American termination of the ABM Treaty, Russian policy has witnessed how it is increasingly being removed from the role of an adversary whom the superpower treats with the respect required for arms diplomacy due to its ability to guarantee destruction.
Coincidentally, Russia and its ambitions as a force for order are also being removed from all questions of world order. As a veto power in the Security Council, it is bypassed by the coalition of the willing; it is degraded to the status of an extra in America’s high-handed updates of international law in the Balkans and the Middle East. Whenever it declares and attempts to assert its own claims on the basis of honorable titles under international law, it suffers rejection; its diplomatic interventions against the NATO leaders’ unilateral actions are incriminated as a “relapse” to Soviet sins and a violation of the good manners of the world order. In the form of its official accusations, America raises the demand that Russia continue to disempower itself, as summarized by Condoleezza Rice’s inimitable accusation that the Russian President has “too much power.”
In view of the determination of the USA and its Western partners to reduce Russia to the status of a power without any consequential authority in world politics, the Russian leadership has now abandoned the idea that the successful integration of its nation into the world market and the family of nations can be achieved in a cooperative and amicable manner. “Lessons” and “self-important lectures” are increasingly resented; the rules issued by Western partners are fundamentally incompatible with the political need to restore Russia to the position it deserves. There must be an end to discrimination against the nation; Russia can demand respect for its interests and stand up to assert them.
For some time now, the political class in Russia has been expressing its disappointment that its attempts to integrate its own nation into the international community on the basis of the common values of democracy and a market economy and to create a basis for long-term good relations have obviously been in vain. On the one hand, with the accusation that the “stereotypes of the Cold War have unfortunately still not disappeared from the minds” of the other side; on the other hand, with the accusation of “double standards” which is aimed at a somewhat more fundamental defect: It’s because of the duplicity of the Western partners who apply double standards and claim rights that they deny Russia when both sides have so much trouble coming to an agreement. The representatives of Russian politics take the liberty of a polemic that dispenses with the customary diplomatic hypocrisy of mutual agreement and tremendous understanding for each other in the pursuit of antagonistic interests, and instead discredit the other side with the common values and principles that they mouth and use as an objection to Russian actions. Putin counters accusations that democracy and the rule of law in Russia leave much to be desired by pointing out that the partners themselves crack down on demonstrations at home, harass G8 protestors, and are not exactly gentle with their national separatists and terrorists. He insults the Europeans by saying that, as the birthplace of the mafia, it would be better not to be so flippant in criticizing judicial failings in Russia. He confronts the great concern about murdered journalists in Russia with the far greater number of murdered journalists in Iraq and generally likes to point to the war scenarios created by the USA and the contrast with the civilizational values that the American rampage there is supposedly dedicated to. The performance ends with the denunciation of the lowly interests that are actually behind it: oil, money, hegemony...
“A fierce battle for resources is unfolding, and the whiff of gas or oil is behind many conflicts, foreign policy actions and diplomatic demarches. In this context, it is understandable that the world should be showing growing interest in Russia and in Eurasia in general. God was generous in giving us natural resources. The result is that we are running up against repeats of the old ‘deterrence’ policy more and more often. But what this usually boils down to, essentially, are attempts to impose unfair competition on us and secure access to our resources.” (Putin Speech at Expanded Meeting of the State Council on Russia’s Development Strategy through to 2020, February 2, 2008)
The kind of criticism of imperialism that was common in the real socialist era is not intended; rather, Russia is now emphasizing its right to defend its interests in this type of competition with the toughness that is obviously necessary due to “unfair competition” from other sides. The Russian President is denying the leading power, the USA, and its European accomplices the authority to define good and evil in the world of states. He denies their claimed right to supervision, their moral and international legitimacy and competence to order the world, and announces in this way that he will no longer put up with any more instructions from their side. After all, Russia does not want anything unjust at all, but “only” what it is rightfully entitled to:
“Our choice is clear. Russia is a reliable partner for the entire international community in resolving global problems. We are interested in mutually beneficial cooperation in all areas – in security, science, energy, and in tackling climate change.
We are interested in being as involved as possible in global and regional integration and in close trade, economic and investment cooperation, in developing high technology and making it a part of our everyday lives. This is all in accordance with our strategic goals. If we want to achieve our national goals we need a peaceful and positive international relations agenda. And we will pursue this course
I stress that we have no intention of trying to take anything away from anyone else. We are a self-sufficient country. And we have no intention either of closing ourselves off from the outside world and living in isolation.” (ibid.)
The decision to fully constructively participate in everything the world market has to offer, in all the political “problems” that its subjects have to “solve” after they have created them, from security issues to climate catastrophes, is formally reaffirmed. Russia praises itself to all members of the family of states as the best partner they could ever wish for, only to then, with a gesture of modesty – we are not taking anything away from anyone; we are only demanding what is our right according to all the rules enshrined in international law; who can have anything against that?! – point out its difference from the powers that are shaking up the world with their autocratic regimes. And Putin is making a statement: Russia will not allow its rights to be taken away, it is fighting for their validity and a corresponding correction of the balance of power in the world of states. The hierarchy led by America desperately needs perestroika.
Russia goes on to gain respect
The longer the Russian leadership is confronted with the fact that its Western partners are not thinking of taking its objections and requests into account, the more it becomes aware of the deficits in its own ruling foundations and the urgency of making the nation fit for a program of assertion against a rather hostile world.
Russia’s own people are now quite clearly aware that the uplift program, which was originally intended to be the prelude to a great and eternal peace agreement, has arrived at a completely different end point: Russia is competing in a rivalry in which the national basis, economy, and state coherence must be secured against external destruction and made suitable for asserting national interests. The deficits of the national economy are assessed as a security risk; capitalist construction is presented as a strategic necessity. In order to avert the threat to the very existence of the nation, the growth program must succeed.
Putin complains: “we are still only making fragmentary attempts to modernize our economy. This inevitably increases our dependence on imported goods and technology and reinforces our role as a commodities base for the world economy. In the future, this could lead to us lagging behind the world’s big economic powers and could push us out from among the world leaders.
If we continue on this road we will not make the necessary progress in raising living standards. Moreover, we will not be able to ensure our country’s security or its normal development. We would be placing its very existence under threat. I say this without any exaggeration.” (Closing speech)
Likewise, the state must also be made immune against foreign interference in its internal political life. The leadership does not want to lose control of political decision-making and systematically takes action against all such attempts; foreign NGOs and cultural associations must submit to Russian laws, and Russian human rights advocates must disclose their finances. Democratic idealists, liberals, and miscellaneous chess players who continue to advocate adaptation to the West in Russia are identified and fought against as a 5th column.
In external dealings, Russia takes the liberty of reviewing the terms and conditions to which it is subject there, the treaties in which it has allowed itself to be bound after the fall of communism. It submits requests for the revision of treaties, attempts to redefine the remit of institutions into which it has entered, and threatens blockades or possible termination if its position is not taken into account. It practically insists that the rules for some relationships must be renegotiated.
Campaigns to damage Russia’s reputation as a constitutional state and democracy are rejected as inadmissible interference in Russia’s internal affairs; retaliatory measures are met with an ‘eye for an eye’ response; there are also threats of a deterioration in relations. Due to the increasingly certain suspicion that European committees and agreements are being used to the detriment of the Russian nation, the entire diplomatic toolbox is being deployed. In the case of the European Court of Human Rights, which is increasingly proving to be a point of contact for all kinds of complaints against the Russian authorities, Russia is blocking a reform that would grant this court even more extensive powers. It is engaged in a dispute over the OSCE’s program and rules. It accuses this organization of using its “election observers” as an instrument of Western interests, namely to promote “color revolutions,” and has been calling for reform for some time. In doing so, it threatens to withdraw budget funds and block the OSCE and, conversely, grants itself its own authority to define the assessment of the quality of rule, engages in the dispute over a ‘controlled’, ‘sovereign’ or whatever democracy, and opens its own institute in Paris and New York to examine the state of human rights in the West. After Russia’s requests to redefine the modalities of communication in the common institutions are met with a non-response, Russia subjects the procedure of election observation in the current Russian elections to its conditions: It is no longer willing to make itself available for the role of an oversight object.
In negotiations on new treaties, Russia is now also putting forward its demands in a fairly specific manner, so that not much progress is being made. The “Energy Charter,” in which Europe has written the principles with which it wants to commit Russia to pure usefulness for European business, and which the Commission insists on ratifying with exceptional stubbornness, has been rejected by Russia with the same stubbornness for some time now. Negotiations on a replacement for the expiring “Partnership and Cooperation Agreement” with Europe have been on hold since Poland made a condition of entering into such negotiations that Russia would first have to signs the Energy Charter and second lift an import ban on Polish meat which Russia had imposed in response to Polish fraudulent transactions involving meat supplies from third countries. Poland wants to demonstrate that it can prevent Europe from reaching an agreement with Russia. Russia, on the other hand, has no intention of complying with Poland’s demands and is keen to make it clear that it will not allow itself to be blackmailed into concessions by a second-rate euro state. If such a treaty is only available on such terms, then it is not going to happen. And in the protracted WTO negotiations, Russian representatives have often indicated that a bad agreement can also be dispensed with.
Russian delegates have repeatedly raised the question of what the Council of Europe is actually good for when human rights violations in Russia are dealt with at great expense, but Russia does not get through with its complaints about the treatment of Russians in the Baltic republics. Similar questions about the purpose of the NATO-Russia Council and the G8 are also being asked.
So Russia has engaged in a diplomatic trial of strength at various levels; with various European states, depending on how militantly they insist on their anti-Russian line, but above all with the USA, in the Security Council, in its refusal to cooperate on regulatory issues. And with all the experiences that Russia has had in dealing with the world’s leading democracies, it is impossible to avoid the conclusion that one does not gain their recognition through good behavior and good balance sheets. None of this is any good without a systemic response. If there is anything Putin has understood and made himself unpopular with, it is this: Weapons are still the most important lever for restoring recognition in a world whose order is in the hands of the USA and its allies and which is currently being played out in several wars.
The decisive resource for appropriate participation in the world order, military power, is being restored
Russia is now formally announcing that it is resuming its arms rivalry with America.
“It is now clear that the world has entered a new spiral in the arms race. This is does not depend on us and it is not we who began it. The most developed countries, making use of their technological advantages, are spending billions on developing next-generation defensive and offensive weapons systems. Their defense investment is dozens of times higher than ours...
Russia will begin production of new types of weapons over these coming years, the quality of which is just as good and in some cases even surpasses those of other countries.”(Closing speech)
Now that the good faith belief that NATO would transform into a purely political body has failed to come true, the illusion of a peace dividend is now being officially dispelled on the Russian side as well. As an ambitious participant in international competition, one can’t afford to regard the military as a superfluous expense: There is no way to have a meaningful voice in this world order without the ability to drop bombs around the globe, to credibly threaten to use force in all conflicts, and to terrorize the world of states as required. The Russian leadership has drawn this conclusion not least from its recent experience in arms diplomacy and has suspended the treaty on conventional armaments in Europe. In view of the armaments put into practice by the USA and the rather one-sided handling of arms control agreements purely at Russia’s expense, Russia is no longer prepared to meet the obligations contained in it.
“We have complied strictly with our obligations over these last decades and are fulfilling all of our obligations under the international security agreements, including the Conventional Forces in Europe [CFE] Treaty. But our NATO partners have not ratified certain agreements, are not fulfilling their obligations, but nevertheless demand continued unilateral compliance from us. NATO itself is expanding and is bringing its military infrastructure ever closer to our borders. We have closed our bases in Cuba and Vietnam, but what have we got in return? New American bases in Romania and Bulgaria, and a new missile defense system with plans to install components of this system in Poland and the Czech Republic soon it seems.
There has been a lot of talk on these matters, but it is with sorrow in my heart that I am forced say that our partners have been using these discussions as information and diplomatic cover for carrying out their own plans. We have still not seen any real steps to look for a compromise. We are effectively being forced into a situation where we have to take measures in response, where we have no choice but to make the necessary decisions.” (ibid.)
Russia has taken note of the fact that the USA is working to create a monopoly on deterrence and is no longer showing any consideration for its former treaty partner. It cannot be prevented from doing so, but Russia can certainly respond by making itself more and more unpredictable. By suspending the CFE Treaty, discontinuing the confidence-building measures it provides and, conversely, threatening to terminate the treaty on medium-range missiles in response to the deployment of American missile defense systems in Europe, Russia is offering the USA and NATO the prospect of a security policy that abandons the arms diplomacy goal of an agreed on predictability. Either America will return to diplomatic relations and recognize Russian rights again or Russia will take care of its strategic needs and launch an arms program that is just as free from the commitments made by the Soviet Union when it was the second superpower. In any case, America should not be able to classify Russia as an irrelevant factor in its future military campaigns in the long term. In response to the American termination of the ABM Treaty, Russia has already reintroduced the right to a nuclear first strike into its military doctrine; the current Chief of the General Staff, following the pattern of the American announcement, also wants to claim Russia’s right to preventive use.
With this contribution to the question of whether humanity would be better served by a uni- or a multi-polar world order, the Kremlin is providing the necessary clarity regarding its “coming to terms with the past.” No matter how thoroughly it purifies the “empire” in terms of political economy, it has no intention of renouncing the legacy of the Soviet Union, which gained respect among nations through its impressive apparatus of violence and held its own against America. In any case, it certainly wants to survive the international competition for free market growth with the status of a respectable world power and not as a “trading partner” censored by every Tom, Dick, and Harry. The fact that Russia is pursuing this course is due neither to an inferiority complex nor to a national “phantom limb,” not even to the traditional study of the “theory of imperialism” – such imperatives are taught to Russian nationalists by their partners as well!
Russia has a lot to do to maintain or restore its security policy capabilities in order to make its threats credible. The military’s equipment is battered and outdated due to years of lack of funding, and the Soviet Union’s military-industrial complex has been damaged by divisions among various national sovereignties. However, the repair of the national apparatus of force has also been underway for some time, starting with the elementary task of ensuring that soldiers receive their pay again and housing is built for military personnel, right up to re-equipping the military.
The necessary expenditures that have to be made for armaments is determined by what one wants to oppose the USA with: First and foremost, it is a matter of keeping pace in the field of deterrence, i.e. of credibly maintaining one’s own ability to counter the nuclear threat which is being devalued by the American build-up. Russian policy is looking for ways and means to make the time honored balance of mutual threats a constant of the world order again, and a requirement for imperialist partners to reckon with. It is true that Russia’s potential today is nowhere near the dimensions of the armed forces of the USA, which is also conceded by emphasizing that Russia will provide an “asymmetric response”; with its extremely modest economic capabilities compared to the USA, Russia is not even considering setting up a mirror image structure. But it also wants to leave no doubt that there are antidotes, and that the development of antidotes to American superiority is in full swing.
For the purpose of such a demonstration, tests with new weapons are being carried out, and the technological innovation of a vacuum bomb will be demonstrated in the summer. Putin takes the opportunity to emphasize that these are not just blueprints from Soviet times, and that the new Russia is also devoting its creative power to this area. In the air and on the world’s oceans, Russia is once again demonstrating a global presence with patrol flights and naval formations. It presents itself to the world as a power that is capable of guaranteeing a variety of threats, that it can and may also use the legal title of protecting shipping and trade routes, and that once again it is granting itself the same right to control the globe as the USA, after the Russian offer of a substantial easing of tensions remained without a corresponding response.
The capability of global military activities includes the availability of control, espionage, and guidance systems: Russia is improving and completing its GLONASS satellite system. It is also tackling the task of enabling itself to disable important enemy weapons systems. In this way, Putin’s Russia is working on building the military-industrial complex it deems appropriate.
Of course, Russia also wants to prove its suitability for international order-keeping operations – participation in “peace-keeping missions,” the violent establishment of “stability” is nowadays the condition for a nation to have a say in what peace and stability looks like elsewhere. Rapid reaction forces are being built up or its own peacekeeping forces are being made available for international operations, combined with units from cooperating states in the CIS. In order to underline the right to international supervisory functions, offers are made to the UN; a Chechen force has already been sent to Lebanon – as if out of feeling for the Islamic culture – which Western press people found somehow distasteful.
The implementation of this program represents an enormous strain on the state budget; after all, it involves something like the reestablishment of a military-industrial complex on a capitalist basis, the financing of which must come from the state budget and, ultimately, the national production of wealth. The extensive arms trade did not have to be reinvented as a source of money for the nation. It was part of real socialist world politics, in which the military export business provided foreign currency and useful partnerships. And it alleviated Russia’s financial woes in the Yeltsin era, which was characterized not only by a swamp of “mismanagement,” but also by a criminal neglect of its own armaments. The correction of the latter offense to the nation’s security needs has been brought up by the Foreign and Defense Ministries: they complain about an excess of arms deliveries abroad in relation to their own armed forces being supplied with modern advances in military technology. The novel problem of such “disparities” will no longer be tolerated.
On the other hand, there is an urgent need to export Russian security interests. While the development of American power can draw on a global network of bases, alliances, and numerous allies according to its needs, the operational base of the Russian armed forces has been reduced considerably: The former allies and Baltic Soviet republics have become military possessions of the other side, and strategic positions have shrunk to the heartland. In order to secure the strategic environment against further NATO penetration, Russia has now resorted to exploiting its full scope of blackmail, rewarding partners and punishing defectors. Russia is supporting its European and Central Asian neighbors with money, military and intelligence services to deal with the security problems caused by the American export of democracy or Islamist movements, and is doing everything it can to make itself irreplaceable as a protective power. With offers to stabilize their rule and military equipment at preferential prices, efforts are being made to incorporate the states into the Russian-Chinese program to prevent new American establishments and to get America out of its bases there. Conversely, the governments that want to smuggle their states into NATO are familiarized with all the means of pressure that today’s Russia can bring to bear. In the form of gas prices and trade wars, the deportation of illegal workers, as was the case recently in Georgia where half the nation often lives on remittances, neighbors are forcefully confronted with questions about their raison d'être: Can they and do they want to afford a switch to the promised Western camp? In the usual imperialist mixture of “pressure” and offers, the Russian government is competing with the USA for the nationalists in the neighborhood, which puts a certain strain on the inner life of the nations that are being fought over in this way and does not exactly contribute to stability in that sense.
A correction in the balance of power is needed
American world politics can afford to interfere everywhere, alternately using and terrorizing the world of states, because of the allegiance that America enjoys. And from partners who, as nations, are by no means dependent creatures, but who participate in using the world with the patent recipe of ‘money and force.’ They certainly compete with America, but do not undertake to question its superiority or attack its hegemony, thus making their calculated peace with the superpower in all their conflicts with it.
Of course, America is confronting its partners, no less than the newly created Russia, with the question of whether and to what extent their allegiance is still worth it. And America is already very emphatically confronting all the upstarts in the competition between states, of which there are several others besides Russia, with this problem by acting as the supervisory power, as the master of the conditions of admission to market economic, political and military endeavors.
Russia has a lot to offer these nations and, conversely. they are interested in a huge Russian Federation that is now programmed for capital growth. The flow of goods and capital in both directions meets the needs of each side; special features such as Russia’s energy wealth or deficits in the technical level of some Russian business sectors are very conducive to new partnerships. Both sides tap into additional sources of wealth in the partner state; “collaboration” relativizes the dependence on traditional interests. Russia also makes many attempts to win over the more or less important members of the family of nations as partners in the name of their own interests, pointing out where they fall short under the current circumstances, and what advantages they could gain from cooperation with Russia. And it combines its global economic remodeling with the explicit prospect of working together toward an alternative world order, which it acts as an advocate of wherever global political negotiations and decisions are made. The reference to the fact that no nation can actually be satisfied with the USA’s war waging – “it can shoot, but it can’t create order” – again and again becomes an invitation to the world political emancipatory will of important participants in world politics to bid farewell to solidarity with America.
However, readiness to engage in active anti-Americanism is – unfortunately, from a Russian perspective – very restrained.
Europe has shown little receptiveness to the Russian propositions. The Russian project of putting competition aside in favor of anti-American cooperation, of intertwining mutual business interests, of bundling the respective capabilities – Russian raw material wealth and military power on one hand and European capital power on the other – and thus compensating for the respective weaknesses, has come to nothing for the time being. The neighbor envisaged as the ideal partner has turned out to be a big disappointment; the tripartite alliance of the naysayers in the Iraq war will not be extended, and instead the former German chancellor, who went above and beyond the occasion to campaign as the protagonist of a German-Russian alliance, now has to put up with being treated as a Russian lackey. A strategic partnership, no way – Europe does not want to embark on such a course. The Europeans are still counting on the alliance with the USA; within its framework, they can participate in the blackmailing force that this bloc is capable of mustering against the rest of the world. Even if, in doing so, they run the risk of becoming an accessory to the American program and are increasingly concerned with gaining more weight as a partner in this alliance.
Part of this course is the demonstrative insolence they take toward Russia. Europe, too, is somewhat pompously playing the role of teacher to Russia, which Russia in turn rejects, so that ugly tones in European-Russian relations are increasing. At the same time, Russia is trying to make advances with its contacts in Europe, who either do not feel sufficiently taken into account in this alliance or can ill afford to forego business prospects, energy deals, and gas storage facilities, and therefore sometimes act as Russia-sympathizers or obstructionists in Europe. With such tests of loyalty to America and tests of European solidarity, Russia is making its contribution to the European crisis.
Following the G8 summit in Heiligendamm, the Russian President commented that the team assembled there and their demands for leadership actually no longer fit the world situation. In today’s world, completely different subjects are decisive, and he demonstratively met with them, representatives from China and India, in Moscow. Russia is already helping them to assert themselves and they, by shifting the balance of power at the expense of the current subjects of the world order, are in turn helping Russia.
Russia is also concerned with the wider world of states, with every possibly affected state, especially the important ones. Since it possesses two categories of commodities that are extremely attractive in international trade – energy plus all the associated technologies and weapons – and can therefore provide decisive services for the development of the economic and military power of other states, it is also using these to promote political friendships in addition to its income, which are intended to somewhat multi-polarize the balance of power in the world.
Nuclear technology in particular, with its exciting combination of economic benefits and military usefulness, is an excellent marketing tool; Russia is pushing ahead with the conquest of its status as a legitimate producer and trader of nuclear goods. When America, in a new variant of non-proliferation policy, offers interested states a share in this type of energy on the condition that they renounce national control over the incriminated enrichment techniques and instead submit to its regime of supplying fuel rods and American leadership, Russia also comes forward with such offers. The rival project, launched as part of its diplomacy with Iran, of carrying out uranium enrichment for other nations in a Siberian facility, offers an alternative to nations that are not so keen on relying on American patronage for their energy needs and advancement plans.
In addition, Russian foreign policy is taking advantage of its rich Soviet legacy in order to free the world of nations from the unpleasant monopoly of NATO military aid and the arms industry by selling weapons, including civilian space and satellite technology. Finally, the USA’s global governance services are creating an increased need for security in the world of states, especially among those nations that the USA puts on its list for deviant behavior. The risk of Russia’s arms trade bringing it close to rogue state status and acting as a supplier to rogue states is being weighed up and accepted. Russia is only partially deterred by the American sanctions against Russian companies, as well as by the rebukes from America. After all, every armament of third parties that goes against America’s wishes undermines the monopolistic position of the superpower a little.
Finally, arms deals underpin particularly close relations with powers such as China and India, which are keen to strengthen their independence from the USA. With these customers, Russia is extraordinarily generous in granting permission for licensed production in which the buyer can acquire control of the technology itself, i.e. develop its own potential as an arms producer. Russia is making itself available as this kind of supplier in order to keep up with the competition with the US as an arms supplier in the case of India, since the US is also courting the upcoming world power with arms supplies of the better kind in order to lure it into a relationship of loyalty. In the relationship with China, on the other hand, the risk is being discussed as to whether Russia’s technological lead can be secured in such a deal and to what extent Russia can exert influence on China’s development of power, which it supports. This risk is also being taken: In view of the monopolistic American advance and its own global political outsider role, no stone must be left unturned in order to exert influence on the two rising powers. Russia guarantees an armament boost for both states, and relations are praised by all parties involved as exceptionally good. However, Russia also encounters the fact that these states reserve the dosage of their anti-Americanism for themselves and also make positive calculations with America. In this matter – who says no at what point, abstains from voting in the Security Council, or insists on business and relations forbidden by America – all three nations to a certain extent operate a “seesaw policy” between the degree of anti-Americanism that they each believe themselves capable of and the degree of calculated adaptation that they deem necessary in order not to expose themselves to American pressure or to secure advantages in their dealings with America. After all, Russia also continues to cooperate with America in some areas and is committed to the joint counter-terrorism program and non-proliferation policy out of its own interests, but also as a signal to the USA that it would be prepared to cooperate much more if the American line were corrected accordingly.
Russian diplomacy is also eager to engage with the ASEAN states and the Arab world. Russia presents itself as a state with an Islamic influence and takes advantage of the suffering in the Muslim world caused by American supremacy, which more or less generally suspects the states concerned of being the swamp from which terrorism grows. For example, it has not put Hamas on its own list of terrorists, emphasizes the need to remain in contact with all factions in order to reach a just settlement of the crisis, and is on hand everywhere with its range of products, from nuclear power plants to anti-aircraft weapons. There are also plenty of countries in Latin America that are open to anything that gives them freedom of movement in the face of America’s dominance.
Flashpoints and tensions as foreign policy potential: America should finally realize that it cannot bypass Russia
Wherever it feels its interests are being ignored, Russia is making itself increasingly noticed as an annoyance. It intervenes in cases of world order that America pursues, instrumentalizes the conflicts to emphasize its own importance, and threatens the leading power with the difficulties it can cause it. Russia is perfectly capable of driving up the imperialist costs of such cases in order to make it clear which alternative America wants to face: either it concedes a price to Russia for its cooperative involvement, or Russia will balk.
Russia does not want to give a security guarantee to the rogue states, but in the role of mediator it can slow down or block American blackmail. Recently, the Russian Nyet in the Security Council has reappeared; the authorizations under international law that the USA is demanding from this body in the case of Iran and Kosovo are being refused, and other nations – China, India – are being encouraged to refuse as well. In his numerous appearances, Putin makes himself a mouthpiece for a widespread but rarely vociferous anti-Americanism and encourages others to evade the front formation demanded by America. For example, he induces the states bordering the Caspian Sea to make a declaration according to which Iran has a right to the civilian use of nuclear power and no war may be waged against Iran from their soil. And against American efforts to create a front, it launches the project of a prosperous free trade zone around the Caspian Sea.
Russia is intervening in the next Middle Eastern world order issue being prepared by the USA in a highly balanced manner: After Iran has been promoted to a case for the Security Council, Russia is also participating in drafting resolutions and the sanctions policy in order to also reaffirm its right to supervise other powers. On the other hand, it stubbornly defends the distinction between prohibited military and permitted civilian uses of nuclear technology, and insists resolutely on Iran’s right to civilian use by completing the Bushehr nuclear power plant, which Germany began years ago under the Shah. It also insists on its right to sell weapons to Iran and supplies anti-aircraft defenses that the war planners in the USA and Israel have to reckon with. By delaying the completion of Bushehr, Russia is in turn letting Iran know that its support comes at a price: It is expected to commit itself to Russia as a business partner and supervisory power with its nuclear ambitions. Russia is defending the country’s right to civilian use with the somewhat poisonous offer that Iran could just as easily have the controversial enrichment and reprocessing carried out under Russian supervision in Siberia, leaving open the possibility that Russia might also consider tougher sanctions to be appropriate one day. And Russia is again approaching America with a new proposal for disarmament: If it absolutely wants to declare the possibility of Iranian missiles to be the greatest current threat to world peace, and if, completely unimpressed by Russian objections, it also maintains that the construction of a missile defense in Europe is only calculated for missiles from this country, Russia can come up with an alternative to the American sanctions policy: together, Iran and the other powers that want to acquire medium and long-range missiles could be offered security guarantees in order to persuade them to give up. Russia is also claiming the right to play a decisive role in determining the level of armaments that other countries are allowed to acquire.
In the case of Kosovo, Russia is upholding the principle of state sovereignty against the US decision to finally bring the matter to an end and reward America’s new friend in the Balkans with independence from Serbia, and is linking its approval in the Security Council to the condition that Serbia and Kosovo must first reach an agreement – knowing full well that the agreement will not be reached this century. In this way, the approval under international law that the EU would like to obtain in order to complete its responsibility for the Balkans is being denied. The Russian comments also make no secret of the fact that the EU is being deliberately presented with this dilemma: Anyone who thinks they are allowed to go it alone under international law without taking Russia into consideration should see how they can get out of the mess afterwards. Certainly, not with Russian help.
Russia’s disruptive manoeuvres, such as blocking the Security Council, supporting and arming rogue states, the methods with which it draws attention to its right to approve world order, contain an appeal to the USA to back down and be prepared to come to an arrangement with Russia in this regard. Wherever America asserts its claim to supervision and attacks states, Russia knows that it is entitled to propose alternative ways of dealing with these states, and this suggestion is nothing less than the Russian state’s demand that America should relativize its policy, its interests, and its instruments to Russia’s interests.
With all of this, Russia presents itself as the better world power: it presents itself in the name of the principle of sovereignty which all states have a right to have recognized and which forms the basis of civilized international relations – in other words, it invokes a general interest against the human rights update of international law which America and its accomplices are using to declare themselves entitled to turn other states upside down. It claims the title and sympathies of an honest broker who is acting without any self-interest, but only in the interest of orderly, peaceful relations. Putin repeatedly states that his Russia will “not take part in any holy war,” thereby emphasizing his own restraint, which is pleasant in comparison with the missionary fanaticism of certain other powers, and appears as the defender and savior of the world order with its sacred principles of recognized sovereignty, as an advocate of a fairer and more peaceful world order – and “requesting” in words and deeds a correction in the hierarchy of powers that does justice to Russia’s greatness.
 See "Der Fall Yukos: Der Gegensatz zwischen Staatsmacht und privater Geldmacht in Russland" in Gegenstandpunkt 4-2003 [untranslated]. Or this from 2014: “The Yukos vs. Russia lawsuit: A bit of world order in matters of the energy market”
 Contrary to the rumor that the Russian state does not allow investments, invitations to do so are extended at pretty much every opportunity. It is also certain that Russia, as a kind of gigantic raw materials storehouse in which a lot more is buried than just fuel, has plenty to offer in the way of incentives for world market transactions, which in turn should then be useful for the country’s capitalist development:
“Eastern Siberia and the Far East ... These regions are suffering from depopulation, but the opportunities are tremendous. There are huge quantities of natural resources. I think in Yakutia their value is five trillion dollars, and that is just what we know: oil, gas, gold and diamonds, practically Mendeleev’s entire periodic table. But we would like to build infrastructure, create new jobs and develop a new economy based on innovative principles.” (Putin, meeting with the members of the Valdai International Discussion Group, September 14, 2007)
 The “Gas Exporting Countries Forum” first met in Tehran in 2001 and consists of Algeria, Bolivia, Brunei, Venezuela, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Qatar, Libya, Malaysia, Nigeria, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Russia, Trinidad and Tobago, and Equatorial Guinea; Turkmenistan was present at some of the ministerial meetings and Norway as an observer. The forum came under heightened imperialist scrutiny from the outset: Norway proved its loyalty to Europe by acting as a brake on the project, Algeria was worked on by France and warned against making false friends. Participants such as Venezuela or Iran, the second most important supplier in terms of gas reserves, have given the US House of Representatives the idea of passing a bill that would simply prohibit the establishment of a gas OPEC.
 The stabilization fund, in which the Russian state accumulates its share of foreign exchange earnings from commodity exports, is divided into a reserve fund, which is invested in foreign bonds to guarantee international solvency and finance the budget even when commodity prices fall, and a national welfare fund “for pensions and innovation projects”: “’The size of the reserves must be optimal. And it is. We have made the decision to split the funds from the oil sector and start building prosperity’. The President pointed out that substantial resources had been accumulated in the stabilization fund, part of which was for emergencies. ‘We must not allow the population to be robbed and not depend on external factors’.” (RIA Novosti, December 11, 2007)
The Russian people can therefore see the matter in such a way that they will be given back national property via certain detours. For the time being, Russia is still relying equally on three world currencies:
“The currency structure of the reserve fund’s resources is to remain unchanged: 45 percent each will be held in euros and US dollars and the remaining ten percent in pounds sterling.” (RIA Novosti, January 9, 2008)
 Russia has ambitions, has “set itself the goal of becoming the third largest world leader in the production of civil and transport aircraft” (Ivanov, June 20, 2007, RIA Novosti), is not deterred by competitors such as Boeing and Airbus and also wants to increase its share of the aviation business, as can be seen from the ongoing dispute with Europe over flight and landing rights.
 In his State of the Nation address in April 2007, the President impressed the nation with a New Deal that plans a second electrification of the country, including the construction of 26 new nuclear power plants in 12 years; a road construction program, justified by “annual economic losses due to the poor state of the roads, estimated at more than 3% of GDP.” The entire transportation system of the Russian Federation, illustrated by disasters such as collapsing bridges and the like becoming commonplace, is in need of an overhaul, having not been repaired since the glory days of perestroika. In addition, there are projects to connect the Far East and to expand the transportation system which Russia wants to use to attract larger parts of the transport business between Europe and the Far East, the modernization of the rail, air, and water transportation systems, new port buildings, and the construction of a canal link between the Caspian and Black Seas. “Not only would this give the Caspian Sea countries a route to the Black Sea and the Mediterranean, thus providing them with access to the world’s oceans, it would also radically change their geopolitical situation by enabling them to become sea powers.” (State of the Nation Address, April 26, 2007)
 Foreign credit institutions will be offered incentives to earn money from strategic projects in Russia:
“We passed a law this year completely freeing from taxation dividends received from strategic investment inside the country and abroad. I hope that both Russian and foreign investors will make use of this exemption we are offering. It is my conviction that Russia could become home to financial centres and the decision-making centres of new global corporations.” (Putin’s Speech at the XI St Petersburg International Economic Forum, June 10, 2007)
 “Those funds, which in Europe are paying women for having children, are actually less than the modest sums that we pay in Russia, because of our lower incomes. And it works. We are seeing a steady increase in fertility.” (Valdai International Discussion Group, September 14, 2007)
The method of calculation, according to which the presence of people in certain quantities also counts as a weapon of competition, does not only apply in Russia. Conversely, the news that the Russians are dying out was not bad news elsewhere. The Republican hopeful, McCain, therefore believes “a relapse into the Cold War is not possible. “‘The Russians no longer have enough population and, despite petrodollars, cannot rebuild the military power they once had,’ said the senator.” (RIA Novosti, December 20, 2007)
 See “Wladimir Putin macht sich für eine nationale Wende stark” in: GegenStandpunkt 1-2000 [untranslated]
 To this end, he recalls the recent past and suggests that the decline of the nation must not only have been the effect of the policies of the respective leaders, but also their intention. This exposes them as traitors to the people and the nation; the Russian voters are not to be bothered to know that they are dealing with different systems. They do not need to know that they owe their suffering first to the real socialist reform mania and then to the blessings of the market economy; it is enough to boil it all down to a question of good or bad leadership:
“Those who oppose us do not want to implement our plan. Because they have other plans and a different view of Russia.”
He denies his political rivals from the Communist Party of the Russian Federation any right to criticize his policies:
“Those who for decades had guided Russia, and at the end of the 1980s left people without the most basic services and goods: no sugar, no meat, no salt, no matches. And of course their policies were responsible for the collapse of the Soviet Union.”
The accusation is levelled at the Liberals:
“They need a weak nation, a sick nation. They need a disorganized and disoriented society, a divided society, so that they can covertly work out their deals and receive their reward at our expense. And, unfortunately, we still have people in the country who live by begging at foreign embassies and foreign diplomatic missions. They count on the support of foreign funds and governments, rather than the support of their own people.
These are the people who occupied high positions in the 90s and acted to the detriment of society and the state, served the interests of oligarchic structures and bargained away our national assets. These are the ones who are telling us how to live today, the ones who, by the way, made corruption the principal means of economic and political competition. These are the ones who year after year accepted unbalanced, totally irresponsible budgets, finally resulting in default, collapse and a precipitous fall in living standards for the citizens of our country.
These are the ones who for years failed to pay child allowances, pensions and wages, who during the worst period of terrorist attacks on Russia treacherously called for negotiations, and in fact for collusion with the terrorists, with those who killed our women and children. They gambled with the lives of the victims in the most shameless and cynical way.
In short, it is all those who at the end of the last century brought mass poverty and an epidemic of corruption to Russia, something we have been fighting ever since.
And do not labour under any illusions, dear friends! All these people have not left the political scene. You will find their names among the sponsors and the candidates of a number of parties.” (Speech to a Gathering of the Supporters of the President of Russia, November 21, 2007)
 “Without a real multiparty system, each deputy is in reality backed by this or that business organisation or this or that political lobby group. Without internal discipline and an ideology binding people together, this all leads to chaos.” (Valdai International Discussion Group, September 14, 2007)
 A nice election idea by Putin is, for example, the announcement that Yukos money should be invested in social housing. “We need to allocate at least 100 billion roubles to programmes to move people out of dilapidated housing.... I have a concrete proposal, namely, to allocate considerable additional revenue to these tasks, including revenue obtained through improved tax collection, from the privatisation of state assets and also, perhaps, from the sale of assets belonging to YUKOS in payment of its debts to the state.” (Annual Address to the Federal Assembly, April 26, 2007)
 See “Wem gehört das Kaspische Öl? Der Imperialismus mischt eine Region neu auf” in GegenStandpunkt 3-2000 [untranslated]
 Not even the time-honored Jackson-Vanik Amendment, which links the annual granting of the most-favoured-nation clause to exit permits for Russian Jews, can therefore be overridden by the USA. It is not only Israel that is now crammed full of Russian Jews, but that does not mean that America wants to do away with the procedure that allows it to exert pressure on Russia every year.
 The Yukos case is rehashed again and again and used as proof that it says everything about the character of Russian politics: no respect for the free market and people. The writer in charge of the Süddeutsche Zeitung comments on a commitment to the rule of law by the presumably next Russian president with the reflexive demand for “a new, this time fair trial for the former Yukos boss Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who is imprisoned in Siberia.” (February 16, 2008) If the new man does not promptly use his office to accuse his state of serious crimes and make amends, he will already have gotten into trouble with the SZ.
 See “Imperialistische Konkurrenz um den südlichen Kaukasus und Zentralasien (Teil 1): Der Fall Georgien” in GegenStandpunkt 1-04; “Imperialistische Konkurrenz um den südlichen Kaukasus und Zentralasien (Teil 2)” in GegenStandpunkt 2-04 [untranslated]
 See “Welche Sicherheit stiftet die Expansion der NATO nach Osten? Keine Macht den Russen!” in GegenStandpunkt 2-97 [untranslated]
 GegenStandpunkt 3-2000 deals with this stragic program of the USA: “Wozu brauchen die USA ein Nationales Raketen-Abwehr-System? Amerika schafft Sicherheit für seine Kriege.” [untranslated]
 “In many areas of civil society – from religion and the news media, to advocacy groups and political parties – the government has unfairly and improperly restricted the rights of her people. Other actions by the Russian government have been counterproductive, and could begin to affect relations with other countries. No legitimate interest is served when oil and gas become tools of intimidation or blackmail, either by supply manipulation or attempts to monopolize transportation. And no one can justify actions that undermine the territorial integrity of a neighbor, or interfere with democratic movements.” (Cheney at the Vilnius Conference, May 4, 2006)
 “Let’s take the question of democracy. I was meeting with my colleagues, with whom I have genuinely good personal relations. At the press conference they said that they support freedom of speech, freedom to hold demonstrations and so on. But two days before, a huge demonstration in Hamburg was broken up, a demonstration that was held in response to preventive action taken by the police. No one had even taken to the streets yet but the police were already going round people’s houses and arresting possible participants, and this provoked quite a stormy response.
Is this a sincere position? If you think that we should let anyone and everyone break windows in the streets and hold demonstrations in breach of the legislation, you should allow the same in your own countries. But you do not allow this in your own countries. Look at how firmly the police acts in Paris, Berlin and other European capitals! We see all of this. So, you are allowed to enforce order and ensure that everyone obeys the law but we are not? Our citizens see this. This is evident to all. You could be more subtle about the way you go about things.” (Valdai International Discussion Group, September 14, 2007)
“Looking back at the more distant past, we recall the talk about the civilising role of colonial powers during the colonial era. Today, ‘civilisation’ has been replaced by democratisation, but the aim is the same – to ensure unilateral gains and one’s own advantage, and to pursue one’s own interests.” (Annual Address to the Federal Assembly, April 26, 2007)
 Especially in the escalation with England, which acts as a European host for all kinds of Russian opposition, from money launderers, oligarchs, and defectors from the KGB to separatists and Taliban from the Caucasus. Ever since the British authorities took a case of death in this scene as an opportunity to place the state and judiciary in Russia under suspicion of aiding and abetting political murder, both sides have been testing how far they want to go.
 “A few days ago, at the meeting of OSCE ministers in Madrid, the Russian delegation proposed that this organization draw up a document understandable to all: an instruction for the international observers, which would clearly state what, where, why and what details they should pay attention to. It degenerated into a scandal, because the Deputy US Secretary of State Nicholas Burns said: ‘We will not compromise and will not budge an inch when it comes to weakening the ODIHR'. ODIHR stands for ‘Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights’ – the OSCE department responsible for election monitoring. In fact, they did not budge an inch. And?
Of course, an experienced diplomat will show them a pile of papers signed by Russia. It will say in illegible officialese what commitments Moscow has made to election monitoring in Russia, Europe and elsewhere. But perhaps it is time to clarify what these commitments are, what they were accepted for and what good they have done?
There were, of course, the commitments to European security within the framework of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe. However, it turned out that Russia was fulfilling them unilaterally and against its own interests. From December 12, Russia will impose a moratorium on the treaty until the balance is restored. Doesn't the situation with the election observers look similar?” (What use are election observers? RIA Novosti, 5.12.07)
 “Russia has successfully tested a new intercontinental ballistic missile which, according to the government, can overcome any protective shield. RS-24... can reportedly be equipped with up to 10 different warheads. It is intended to replace older intercontinental missiles such as the RS-18 and RS-20.” (SZ, May 30, 2007)
 “‘I have decided to resume permanent flights of the Strategic Air Forces,’ Putin announced... ‘Patrols will be carried out in areas of active shipping and economic activities of Russia... From today, such flights will be carried out regularly. They have a strategic character. Putin recalled that Russia had unilaterally suspended the flights of its long-range air forces in 1992. ‘Unfortunately, not everyone followed our example. This resulted in certain security problems for Russia,’ said the President.” (RIA Novosti, August 17, 2007)
 The Russian-led organization of the Collective Security Treaty of the CIS states also wants to contribute to global peacemaking:
“One of the main topics is the creation of a mechanism to bring the organization’s peace potential to bear. ‘We are talking about military contingents of the participating countries, which could be deployed not only on their territories, but also in any part of the world,’ Bordyusha said.” (RIA Novosti, October 6, 2007)
 To appease the people – after all, the government’s official explanation for the collapse of the Soviet Union is that it would have perished due to the burden of its armaments – it is denied that Russia is allowing itself to be drawn into an arms race again:
”Russia will begin production of new types of weapons over these coming years, the quality of which is just as good and in some cases even surpasses those of other countries. At the same time, our spending on these projects will be in keeping with our possibilities and will not be to the detriment of our social and economic development priorities.” (Closing speech)
The repeated assurance that the national armament program will not result in the hardships of a wartime conversion of the economic apparatus also reveals a corresponding risk awareness among the political leadership: the requirements of military readiness are already somewhat absolute; and it is also known that Russia cannot finance it as easily as the USA, which gets credit for its wars from the rest of the world.
 They also see it as a case of using all their rocket capabilities to launch more foreign satellites into space than their own. The intention is to abandon this role:
“Russia’s First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov has spoken out against turning Russia into a ‘space coach’ for the rest of the world. ‘Today, the Russian space agency Roskosmos earns most of its money from space launches of foreign satellites’. ‘More often than not, our state institutions and private companies have to buy the data obtained by these devices at a much higher price. This must be changed.’” (RIA Novosti, January 23, 2008)
 Russia is unable to turn its CIS neighbors into a secure zone of influence. Where it maintains military facilities in these states, these are often the object of more or less permanent disputes: In the case of Ukraine, these have reached the point where the Black Sea Fleet will be relocated from Crimea to a yet-to-be-built naval base after an agreed deadline. There are also problems with Kazakhstan, from where Russia launches its space rockets.
 The bundle of contradictory interests that Europe has in Russia is described in GegenStandpunkt GegenStandpunkt 4-05: “Euro-Imperialisten auf dem langen Marsch nach Moskau” [untranslated]
 The idea that European unity and greatness is being torpedoed, not least by Russia, is thus taking root in Europe. The European Council on Foreign Relations, a new NGO founded by Mrs. Albright, Joschka Fischer and the usual suspects, an NGO of the political elite from America and Europe, has already classified the European states in terms of their infiltration by Russia:
“... Five different positions on Russia: ‘Trojan horses’ (Cyprus and Greece), which often defend Russian interests in the EU and are prepared to veto common EU positions; ‘strategic partners’ (France, Germany, Italy and Spain), which have special relations with Russia that occasionally undermine a common EU policy; ‘friendly pragmatists’ (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Finland, Hungary, Luxembourg, Malta, Portugal, Slovakia and Slovenia), which have close relations with Russia and tend to put their business interests above political objectives; ‘cool pragmatists’ (the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Ireland, Latvia, the Netherlands, Romania, Sweden and the UK), who also have business interests at stake, but are less afraid than others to speak out against Russian behavior on human rights or other issues; ‘new cold warriors’ (Lithuania and Poland), who take an openly hostile stance towards Moscow and are prepared to use their veto to block European negotiations with Russia.” (November 7, 2007)
 “‘We are talking about a nuclear renaissance, we are sure that we have a market for it,’ says Shmatko, the head of Atomstroyexport. Atomstroyexport is building seven nuclear reactors in Iran, China, Bulgaria and India... According to Shmatko, the Russians are in talks with Vietnam, Malaysia, Egypt, Namibia, Morocco, South Africa, Algeria, Brazil, Chile and Argentina. Last month, the Russian company began negotiations for a research reactor in Myanmar... Russia is offering a business model that links the supply of nuclear fuel with contracts to build power plants and ensure that the spent fuel rods – a potential raw material for dirty bombs or nuclear weapons – are returned to Russia for reprocessing.” (Russia Meets a Need for Nuclear Power Plants, NY Times, June 25, 2007)
 “Russia wants to grant all states committed to peaceful nuclear energy access to the uranium enrichment center in Angarsk (Siberia). This was stated by Russian UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin at a session of the UN General Assembly on Monday. The center founded by Russia and Kazakhstan is open to third countries without any political conditions, Churkin said.” (RIA Novosti, October 30, 2007).
 “‘We and Russia no longer have hostile relations. I seriously want to hope that Russia’s military activities and military spending will reflect that,’ Rice said... She also criticized Russia for supplying arms to countries such as Iran, Syria and Venezuela. ‘The Russians, of course, say that these arms shipments are not illegal. But I told them that not everything that is legal in the narrow sense is good for the international system,’ the US Secretary of State emphasized. ‘Iran and Syria are states that are destabilizing one of the most unstable regions in the world,’ Rice said.” (RIA Novosti, October 15, 2007)
 In these transactions, the need to emancipate oneself from the dollar and a business channel involving American banks is particularly pronounced:
“The Russian state-owned arms export company Rosoboronexport is proposing that India switch its long-term contracts to euros. Russian suppliers are complaining that arms production will no longer be profitable under the agreed prices in view of the falling dollar exchange rate. These are the megadeals for the delivery or licensed production of 230 Su-30 MKI fighter aircraft worth four billion dollars and the delivery of the aircraft carrier ‘Vikramaditya’ (former ‘Admiral Gorshkov’) with a group of MiG-29K fighter aircraft worth more than 1.5 billion dollars... Similar negotiations should also be conducted with China: The falling dollar exchange rate while inflation remained relatively high was one of the reasons for freezing the contract for the delivery of 38 Il-76 military transport aircraft (total value over one billion dollars).
According to a Russian state bank, the next contracts will be concluded in euros or a combination of currencies. At the same time, this will prevent settlements via American banks, which would mean that the secret services would lose information about the amount of commission and premiums for Russian suppliers. Russia exported armaments worth 6.46 billion dollars in 2006.” (RIA Novosti, June 4, 2007)
 He delivered his sharpest attack on the USA and its hegemony at the defense conference in February 2007; see GegenStandpunkt 1-07: “Putin auf der Sicherheitskonferenz: Wir können auch anders” [untranslated]
 As far as its own position in the competition of powers is concerned, Russia demonstratively renounces any missionary role, precisely because of its own past, from whose mistakes it claims to have learned many lessons. Today’s Russia presents itself as an extremely tolerable contemporary, “merely” wanting to present itself as a country that looks after its own interests:
“Today’s Russia has no intention of following the example of Tsarist times, and even less intention of following the Soviet example. I do not think that we should take some kind of missionary role upon ourselves. I think that this would be detrimental for Russia....I therefore have no wish to see our people, and even less our leadership, seized by missionary ideas. We need to be a country that in every way has a healthy self-respect and can stand up for its interests, but a country that is at the same time able to reach agreements and be a convenient partner for all members of the international community.” (Waldai-Treffen)
Who then is taking a missionary role today? To the detriment of everyone, as one sees?!
 When evoking this greatness – which he believes he owes his fellow countrymen – the cool-headed missionary zeal of the national leader gets the better of him:
“Russia is a land of hardworking and educated people who want to be leaders and have always had the thirst for victory in their national character. We have always sought to be free and independent.
Russia has immense national resources and great scientific potential.
Russia has a clear understanding of how it can use these resources to reach the new and ambitious goals we have set.
There is not a single serious reason that should prevent us from reaching our goals. Not one!
I am absolutely convinced that our country will succeed in consolidating its position as one of the world leaders and that our citizens will live decent lives.” (Closing speech)