Immediately after reports of negotiations between someone from Russia and representatives of other countries, where issues of placing military or civilian companies on the territory of these states are being discussed, a discussion arises in the media about whether we need it or not.
One group argues for the need for such placement, the other advocates the prudent use of public funds, emphasizing difficulties in medicine, education, the social sphere and other unresolved issues. Moreover, all experts and politicians appeal to figures, studies, the experience of other countries and similar evidence of their innocence.
The society, to which both parties turn, has already developed mechanisms for resolving the dispute at the household level. Statists and liberals look at some Russian publications or at the reaction of "our foreign partners" and, depending on this, decide for themselves which side to support.
Exactly the same discussion arises in Russian society after the decision of our government to provide some bases, airfields or railway stations to other states to solve their own logistics problems.
Some shout about the holy Russian land, which they gave to their enemies for a while. Others, on the contrary, sing hosanna to this decision and talk about Russia's entry into the "family of democratic peoples." And an ordinary citizen of Russia reads and listens to such debaters and gets completely confused.
So did we win or did we win?
Soft power that is powerless
We talk a lot about the fact that it is better to resolve any issues not by military force, but through negotiations, some kind of compromise. Well, no one will argue with this statement. Any war is the death of people.
But the very concept of soft power has changed in recent years.
We are reproached, for example, in Ukraine or Georgia, Moldova, the Baltic states, for the fact that Russia spent little of its funds on "the formation of a pro-Russian society." That is, the modern understanding of "soft power" is reduced to a primitive bribery of the population. Should we buy ourselves allies? Rough, of course, but if we discard the beautiful wrapper of demagoguery, this is what remains, in fact, in all these reproaches.
Alas, what we invest in the education of foreigners, in the development of some parties, social movements, cultural ties in other countries, does not always give the desired result. It is far from a fact that a student of any Russian university, having become a specialist, will remain pro-Russian even in his own country.
How many officers who graduated from universities in the USSR and Russia are serving in the Armed Forces of Ukraine today? How many of these officers are currently fighting on the side of the Taliban or ISIS (banned in the Russian Federation)?
Maybe those who graduated from civil institutes and universities are entirely pro-Russian? Alas.
The situation is exactly the same in other areas of interaction. Those in whom we invest money easily change their political orientation depending on local conditions.
The product, if it is sold, can always be re-purchased. Yes, it will cost more. But, unlike mass “production” in universities, not everyone is outbid, but only those who make decisions, leaders and managers. Anyway it comes out cheaper. And what views this very "product" adheres to is not at all important if it does what the buyer needs.
But, there is really a real version of soft power that works.
And this power is based not on convictions or material interests, but on the personal safety of leaders, leaders of countries. It is clear that only some military or paramilitary formations can ensure this security.
Soft power gets tough
Have you ever tried sticking your hand in a pile of cement? Very easy and even to some extent pleasant. Have you tried hitting the pile of cement? If you haven't tried it, I don't recommend it. A hand fracture is possible. Just because the cement is soft and pleasant to the touch, it instantly turns into stone on impact.
In the previous article about our return to Africa, I spoke about the Wagner PMC, which the government of one of the African countries allegedly invites to protect important objects and the personal protection of state leaders. There were no official statements yet, but the French Foreign Ministry reacted instantly. Hysterical statements with threats followed from the ministers of defense and foreign affairs.
An excellent example of the possible transformation of cement into stone. An example, in no way, except for the speculations of some journalists from a rather limited number of publications, not related to Russia. PMCs are registered in Hong Kong, and those who work in that structure are citizens of many states. As in other companies of a similar direction.
Some time ago, again at the level of rumors, the media disseminated information that Russia was facing problems in Sudan. Remember the agreement between Moscow and Khartoum on the creation of a small military base in the region, literally for 300 servicemen and four ships, in Sudan? There was an agreement on this, but an agreement had to be prepared. Today the papers are almost ready.
Russia received this base in exchange for investments in the development of port infrastructure, some military assistance to Sudan and assistance in ensuring the security of the country's leaders and facilities important for the functioning of the state.
Everyone understands the importance of this base.
The Red Sea, through which the largest number of routes from East to West passes, the Suez Canal and the adjacent waters, in fact, became controlled not only by Western, but also by Russian reconnaissance means. The presence of warships of the Russian Navy greatly changes the general configuration of the distribution of forces.
What is the problem?
Everything is as usual, before the conclusion of the agreement on the naval base, the Sudanese authorities tried to blackmail Russia and put forward additional conditions for its conclusion. The first to let loose was the chief of staff of the armed forces of the Sudan, Muhammad Osman al-Hussein. And then the rumors materialized into specific demands.
So, all the conditions that were negotiated in 2020 remain the same. Khartoum agrees to provide the port for 25 years for the Russian fleet... But Russia must additionally commit itself to annually allocating tranches to support the national currency of Sudan. Which actually means the preservation of the country's currency at the expense of the Russian ruble.
The question arises as to where the wind is blowing from? Why did such conversations appear at all?
Alas, I will not be original. As usual, the wind is from overseas. After Moscow and Khartoum came to an agreement on a naval base, the Americans developed a vigorous activity to break it down. It is clear that Washington is well aware of the consequences of such an agreement.
This is not a rumor, but a fact. The US offered Sudan a multimillion dollar aid package a few months ago. In fact, the Americans have put the Sudanese government in a split position. US money is against the assistance of the Russian Federation. It is clear that someone, most likely from the Ministry of Defense of the Sudan, received his share of this package for voicing the situation.
It would seem that the situation is losing for Russia? Agree, for the sake of creating a naval base, we could agree to some additional agreements within the framework of "improving relations between our countries." Society would quite consciously accept this. How many times have we done this? And then, after a while, they simply wrote off the debt.
But we did something quite unexpected for the government of Sudan, and for the US government as well. Russia refused to discuss this issue at all or to somehow link the creation of a naval base and economic aid to Sudan.
According to rumors, the Kremlin was even ready to abandon the very idea of creating a base.
Life or wallet - an alternative for the government of Sudan
Why did we react so harshly to the statements of the representatives of the Government of the Sudan?
Where is our traditional tolerance?
We are so accustomed to the fact that our government “goes to meet” others in the allocation of money that the refusal came as a shock to many.
It is also interesting that, according to some information, Sudan is making exactly the same demands with regard to China. According to Chinese press reports, Chinese companies that are developing oil fields in Sudan, according to the agreement, are also demanding money to support the Sudanese pound.
Even more interesting is the reaction of the Sudanese government to the rumors published in the press. Charge d'Affaires of Sudan in Russia Onur Ahmad Onur, literally on the same day, made a statement:
“Minor changes will be made, and after that the agreement will be signed ...
I think in the near future. "
I think in the near future. "
"It is not true. These news - not true. This is unfounded news. The Sudanese side is not asking for any payments in connection with the agreement on the military base. "
In fact, if you look closely at the situation in Sudan, the government is in a situation where at any moment it could lose its power, and possibly its life. The internal situation is so tense that, in fact, a very small push from the outside is enough to start a civil war. The civil and military authorities have not been able to agree among themselves for two years now.
The transitional government only nominally controls the power in the country. In addition to the classic confrontation that we see in many countries, the army against civilians, there is a third autonomous force in Sudan - the special services. Intelligence and security forces are not controlled by anyone and play their own game.
Ethiopia may well become an external enemy. It is this country that is now threatening the economy of Sudan. The fact is that on the tributary of the Nile, the Blue Nile in the Benishangul-Gumuz region, Ethiopia is building a large (with a capacity of 6,45 GW) hydroelectric power station. Two months ago, Ethiopia carried out a second filling of the dam with water. Experts from Sudan and Egypt talk about a possible shortage of water for agriculture in these countries.
So, Ethiopia has enough funding for the separatists of Sudan in order for hostilities to start. The lack of real power will lead to unpredictable consequences. Russia, if the agreement on the naval base is implemented, will just become a stopper for the separatists' offensive. Perhaps, purely in theory, the Chinese will also help the existing government.
"A kind word and a colt can achieve much more than just a kind word."
A great country that claims to be one of the leading places in world politics cannot be “constantly formidable” or “constantly kind”. The country's foreign policy should be flexible, situational, while maintaining the main direction. Somewhere you need to give in, somewhere to stop the movement, somewhere to shout, and somewhere to use force.
We got too carried away with the struggle against the greats and ceased to be a serious force for small states. That is why there are talks in one place or another about punishing Russia, about non-recognition of Russia, about sanctions against Russia.
For example, I still don't understand why there are only two countries on the list of Russia's enemies? What have the Baltic countries done that we love them for? And Ukraine?
Are we re-educating them? A kind of "good guy" who will forgive?
Do we feel sorry for them because they are small?
The bug is small and smelly, as the foreman from the painting "They Fought for the Motherland" put it.
For the thousandth time I am writing that the world is changing. In these conditions, it is no longer possible to be kind. The powerful of this world will not bite each other, but the numerous “Tabaki jackals” may well. Here they are worth putting in place.
And soft power becomes power only when it is backed up not by words, but by deeds. Cement, again, is a great example of how soft can instantly become hard and break your arms ...