The Russian role will be to balance the hegemonic
powers, as a guarantor of a new union of non-aligned
By Pepe Escobar
June 12, 2020 "Information
Clearing House" - Professor Sergey Karaganov
is informally known in influential foreign policy
circles as the “Russian Kissinger” – with the extra
bonus of not having to carry a “war criminal” tag from
Vietnam and Cambodia to Chile and beyond.
Karaganov is the dean of the Faculty of World Economy
and International Affairs at the National Research
University Higher School of Economics. He’s also the
honorary chairman of Russia’s Presidium of the Council
on Foreign and Defense Policy.
In December 2018, I had the pleasure of being
received at Karaganov’s office in Moscow for a one-on-one
conversation essentially about Greater Eurasia – the
Russian path for Eurasia integration.
Now Karaganov has expanded his main insights for an Atlanticist
made in Italy vehicle usually more distinguished for its
maps than its predictable “analyses” straight from a
NATO press release.
Even noting, correctly, that the EU is a “profoundly
inefficient institution” on a slow path towards
dissolution – and that’s a massive understatement –
Karaganov observes that Russia-EU relations are on their
way to a relative normalization.
This is something that has been actively discussed in
Brussels corridors for months now. Not exactly the
agenda envisaged by the US Deep State – or the Trump
administration, for that matter. The degree of
exasperation with Team Trump’s antics is unprecedented.
Still, as Karaganov recognizes: “Western democracies
don’t know how to exist without an enemy.” Enter NATO’s
routine secretary-general Stoltenberg’s platitudes on
the Russian “threat.”
Even as Russia’s trade with Asia is now
equivalent to trade with the EU, a new “threat”
emerged in Europe: China.
An Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China was just
invented last week as a new demonization platform,
congregating representatives from Japan, Canada,
Australia, Germany, the UK, Norway and Sweden as well as
members of the European Parliament.
China “as led by the Chinese Communist Party,” is to
be faced as a “threat” to “Western values” – the same
old triad of democracy, human rights and neoliberalism.
The paranoia embodied in the dual Russia-China “threat”
is nothing but a graphic illustration of the prime Grand
Chessboard clash: NATO vs Eurasia integration.
A great Asian power
Karaganov breaks down the crucial Russia-China
strategic partnership to an easily absorbed formula: As
much as Beijing finds strong support on Russia’s
strategic power as a counterpunch to the US, Moscow can
count on China’s economic might.
He recalls the crucial fact that when Western
pressure on Russia was at its peak after Maidan and the
Crimea referendum, “Beijing offered Moscow virtually
unlimited credit, but Russia decided to brave the
situation on its own.”
One of the subsequent benefits is that Russia-China
abandoned their competition in Central Asia – something
I saw for myself in my travels late last year.
That does not mean competition has been erased.
Conversations with other Russian analysts reveal that
fear of excessive Chinese power is still on, especially
when it comes to China’s relations with weaker and
non-sovereign states. But the bottom line, for such a
sterling realpolitik practitioner as Karaganov, is that
the “pivot to the East” and the strategic entente with
China favored Russia in the Grand Chessboard.
Karaganov totally understands the Russian DNA as a
great Asian power – taking into consideration everything
from authoritarian politics to the natural resource
wealth of Siberia.
Russia, he says, is “close to China in terms of
common history despite the enormous cultural distance
separating them. Up to the 15th century, both were under
Genghis Khan’s empire, the largest in history. If China
assimilated the Mongols, Russia ended up expelling them,
but in two and a half centuries of submission it
incorporated many Asian traits.”
Karaganov considers Kissinger and Brzezinski “lucid
strategists,” and laments that even if they suggested
otherwise “the American political class” inaugurated a
“new Cold War” against China. He breaks down
Washington’s objective as playing a “Last Battle”
profiting from the forward bases the US still dominates
in what Wallerstein would define as our collapsing
New Non-Aligned Movement
Karaganov is very sharp on Russia’s independent
streak – always fiercely countering “whoever pointed at
a global or regional hegemony: from the descendants of
Genghis Khan to Charles XII of Sweden, from Napoleon to
Hitler. In the military and political spheres, Russia is
self-sufficient. Not in the economic, technological and
cyber spheres, where it needs markets and external
partners, which it will search and find.”
The result is that the Russia-EU rapprochement dream
remains very much alive, but under “Eurasian optics.”
That’s where the concept of Greater Eurasia comes in,
as I discussed with Karaganov in our meeting: “a
multilateral, integrated partnership, officially
supported by Beijing, based on an egalitarian system of
economic, political and cultural links between diverse
states,” with China playing the role of primus inter
pares. And that includes a “significative part of
the Western extremity of the Eurasian continent, that
That’s what the evolution in the Grand Chessboard
seems to point at. Karaganov – correctly – identifies
western and northern Europe as attracted to the
“American pole,” while southern and eastern Europe are
“inclined towards the Eurasian project.”
The Russian role, under this framework, will be to
“balance the two possible hegemonic powers,” as a
“guarantor of a new union of non-aligned nations.” That
hints at a very interesting new configuration of the
So meet Russia as one of the supporters of a new
multilateral, multi-vector partnership, finally moving
from a status of “periphery of Europe or Asia” to “one
of the fundamental centers of northern Eurasia.” A work
in – steady – progress.
Pepe Escobar is
His latest book is
2030. Follow him on
Facebook.- - "Source"
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