Moscow appeared to be unprepared for polycentrism as it has not yet grasped its basic rule, which was well known to Russian chancellors of the 19th century: one should make compromises on individual issues in order to have closer relations with other centers of power than they have among themselves.
Ukraine today has three systemic problems: national and territorial disintegration, economic insolvency, and social and political chaos. Their further aggravation is fraught with a major threat to stability and to the very existence of the Ukrainian state.
As long as the fundamental restructuring of the global system is not reflected in people’s outlook (and this will take decades), the vacuum in the inner sanctum of Russian national consciousness will continue to be filled by the West.
For the first time in history, Russia, previously only as a military power, now has a chance to enter the Asia-Pacific region as a factor of peace. And this may make it a unique player, so much needed to balance Asia.
It is essential that Russia avoid unilateral involvement in Afghan affairs, which otherwise would have adverse consequences for Russia’s national interests both regionally and internationally. And this is the scenario the U.S. is likely to try to push forward given current tense U.S.-Russia relations.
Mutual sanctions are always extremely unpleasant, and the application of sanctions and the “hot” trade war between Russia, Europe and the United States can have no good result.