Project "ZZ". In the coming 2020, foreign experts, mindful of the events of recent weeks and statements by President Putin, focused on the “damned” political question: is it possible to agree with Russia? The answers are the opposite: from "compromises are impossible" to "must talk."
Russia is everywhere
Political scientist and publicist Cyril Brae in the publication "Slate" spoke about the “warnings” that Russia made to the rest of the world in 2020.
In a January article written concisely, the expert highlighted all the main messages of Moscow to the international community.
The author notes that in recent years, Russia sent a number of messages to the international community, which clearly indicated strategic intentions “in the coming months”.
Why was this done in the last days? Brae believes that the reason for this is the difference in calendar dates.
In Orthodox Russia, the expert notes, the New Year precedes Christmas. The Julian calendar defines Christmas on January 24th. And it turns out that between December 1 to January XNUMX, when Europe and the United States relax and have fun, Russia is "very active." And she, according to the political scientist, knows how to take advantage of the "gap in the calendars." These days are used for certain events. In addition, Russia recalls the priorities for the past year and is preparing for the coming year.
In recent days, the Kremlin has sent several messages to the world, the analyst further writes. And gives a list of Russian statements and accomplishments. The list begins with the Ukrainian situation.
On December 29, a new exchange of prisoners took place between Moscow and Kiev. The dynamics of negotiations, which has given little hope since 2016, is now becoming "promising," the expert said. After the first exchange, which took place last year on September 7, and the resumption of discussions in the Norman format on December 9 in Paris, Vladimir Putin seems to have given the new president of Ukraine the opportunity to act. Mr. Zelensky needs such an opportunity to prepare for compromises. At the same time, even if “signs of appeasement” are noticeable, something else is obvious: Russia will not make any compromise with respect to Crimea. The expert does not doubt it at all.
The second item on the Brae list is large-scale military exercises in the Indian Ocean (December 27-30). Russia, Iran and China chose the season of Catholic and Protestant holidays for these maneuvers. Three states issued several warnings for 2020.
Firstly, the participants in the exercises made it clear: the Arabian Sea and the Persian Gulf, the most important areas of world maritime shipping, are not “American backyards”.
Secondly, the two nuclear powers will support Iran at sea and in the UN Security Council.
It also follows that the strategic partnership of Russia with China and Iran will not weaken even if the United States ceases to wage a trade war with China in 2020.
Next, the expert stops at the arms race. In his opinion, Russia has chosen this period for the implementation of several arms projects announced by the president back in March 2018. Then the general public was told about the development of the Avangard complex and others. A reminder of this on the eve of 2020 very clearly informs the international community: Moscow will not give up its status as a leader in the field of strategic weapons. And she will supply such weapons to her troops and sell them on the world market. Of course, Russia will use its advantage (“if it can”) in order to close the defense gaps received “during the period of the humiliation of 1990-2000,” Brae concludes.
The next item for the expert is the Middle East.
Russia again recalled its central role, which it again plays in Syria and the Middle East as a whole. The expert has been counting such a restoration by Russia of participation in Middle Eastern processes since 2015. This includes “significant air support for the Assad regime in operations that have begun in the Idlib area since mid-December.” And here Russia again marks the date - 2020: this year can be marked by the political process of ending the war in Syria. If this happens, it will be done on the conditions of Russia and under its auspices, the author of the article is sure.
Please talk with Russia!
To the question "Why should we talk with Russia" on the site Atlantic Council Two experts responded: S. Charap and J. Shapiro (Samuel Charap and Jeremy Shapiro).
The authors recall that the other day UkraineAlert (the name of the project under the Atlantic Council) published an article by Anders Oslund in which he criticized the report of the brain trust “RAND” (October 2019, the topic of a consensus proposal on a revised regional order in post-Soviet Europe and Eurasia ) Oslund is by no means a supporter of compromises with Russia, and the article by Charap and Shapiro criticizes two analysts for his irreconcilable position.
It is worth noting that Charap and Shapiro are the co-authors of the mentioned publication “RAND” along with nineteen co-authors from the European Union, the USA, Russia and several other states. Experts believe that Oslund’s article deserves an answer, inter alia, because it provides arguments that are often heard.
Charap and Shapiro et al in their report put forward a “compromise proposal” related to the idea of revising the regional order in Eastern Europe. Compromise is inherently “dirty business,” both authors admit. This is a painful task: to separate what is really needed from what you just want to achieve. This requires an understanding of the prospects and fears of those people who sat at the negotiating table. And you need to understand these people even if you hate them, say Charap and Shapiro. At the same time, compromise is the quintessence of diplomacy, the only way to avoid coercion, violence and war in resolving international disputes. The main value of the report was that 21 authors, 21 experts could put forward their proposals, which at the same time would not be a panacea and would not be considered a kind of absolute. This is an attempt to demonstrate the existence of a compromise - regional leaders only need to be courageous and find one.
Oslund, however, believes that efforts should consist in "identifying key dividing lines" and "real differences between the aspirations of Russia and the West." For this specialist, the essence of any diplomatic contact with Russia should begin with a description of the "reality" of the situation in Eastern Europe, by which he means a willingness to recognize Russia as the "guilty party" in many economic and political conflicts that concern the region. Charap and Shapiro in the question of “who is to blame” tend to agree more with their colleague Oslund than with Moscow, but this is not about that. After all, negotiations are conducted with opponents, and not with friends, the co-authors remind. And insisting that opponents “accept your story and renounce their own before you start negotiations is not diplomacy.” This is a "different way of war."
However, Oslund prefers to insist that no compromise with Russia is possible, experts further point out. “Of course, if everyone in Moscow and Washington shares his point of view, this will turn into a prophecy that will immediately come true,” analysts sneer. And they propose, for starters, to estimate the price of a new Cold War with Russia.
The first Cold War cost many trillions of dollars. Killed millions of people around the world. In the United States, civil liberties were undermined. Two generations of children grew up under the constant threat of nuclear destruction. But all this ended in a peaceful way, and experts consider such a finale as "something like a geopolitical miracle." And then they remark: "It would be foolish to expect a repeat of such a miracle."
Therefore, before accepting the “catastrophic result”, one should study the possibility of a compromise, even if for many in Washington “it is always the year 1938.” Experts propose considering a compromise before the lands of those nations that find themselves between America and Russia turn into a battlefield. “In the struggle of generations between the forces of good and evil, we are trying to understand whether it is possible to find a way to offer them a path to security and prosperity,” the authors conclude, because in the new Cold War “only China can win”.
Despite the fact that S. Charap and J. Shapiro are more likely to stand on the side of A. Oslund, both differ from the latter in that they not only recognize the path of compromises in complex international relations, but also do everything in order to find such a compromise. Denial of the compromise and declaring it impossible is an unequivocal path to geopolitical confrontation. In the words of experts, this is a war by other means.