Alexander Lukin is Department Head, Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs, School of International Affairs, National Research University Higher School of Economics; Director, Center for East Asian and SCO Studies, Moscow State Institute of International Relations of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union—for which the majority of the British people voted in a referendum—has become an international sensation.
The SCO is essentially a regional cooperative association, and as such it is often perceived as a potential center of the burgeoning multipolar world, capable of providing an alternative – or a counterbalance – to the US and its allies.
Instead of chauvinism and chaos Russia needs a third alternative. And that is a combination of moderate patriotism and moderate liberalism manifesting itself in the commitment to freer life by law, without corruption, but with mature self-government.
It is a matter of whether the SCO will evolve as just a club of states, or whether it will become a serious international mechanism comparable in influence to ASEAN or APEC or, perhaps, even excelling them. Considering the unpredictable situation in Central Asia, which may see yet events similar to the “Arab Awakening,” the SCO may soon prove to be very essential.
The recent revolution in Kyrgyzstan – the second in five years – and the bloodshed in the south of the country that followed it have cast doubts over the country’s viability as an independent state. There is yet another important factor: an outwardly solid authoritarian regime, one among many in the territory of the former Soviet Union, collapsed within a few days. This raises a more general question: Is this an exceptional case or does it open a new chapter in post-Soviet history?
The BRICs have all chances to become the most influential of all the international associations that include Russia, as it is a center for harmonizing the interests of major non-Western centers of the multipolar world. An evolution of the BRIC structure into an alternative to the G8 would meet Russian interests.
The post-Soviet foreign policy paradigm rested on the exclusive role of interaction with the West. A foreign policy course that meets Russia’s national interests in earnest could become an alternative to the post-Soviet approach. Its goal might be a return of foreign policy attractiveness to Russia – something that is known as ‘soft power’ today.
The United States’ political image in Central Asia, especially after the problems with Uzbekistan, has been considerably undermined. The majority of Central Asian countries understand that political orientation toward Washington may bring about many problems at home.
At a roundtable event in Moscow, top experts debated the “hypocritical” and “insincere” foreign policies of both Russia and the West in the post-Cold War era.
Vladimir Putin has mentioned several times that the collapse of the Soviet Union was a geopolitical mistake. Although these words were often interpreted as his desire to constitute that country, there is little reason to believe this.
The April 16 referendum will focus on power distribution rather than institution building. In other words, the organizers saw it as an opportunity to expand the President’s powers and allow him to rule longer. In their turn, Turks perceived it as an institutional choice to contribute to the development of the state.
If the larger picture defies prediction, the immediate future is scarcely more transparent. In the U.S. case, the known unknowns are numerous. They begin with the question of how much deck furniture Trump is willing to overturn in order to pursue an “America First” strategy.
In the wake of the For Fair Elections protest movement in Russia in 2011-2012, the Kremlin initiated a new strategy of state-society relations that was aimed at diminishing the propensity for protest in the next election cycle.
Belarus’ traditional structural dependence on Russia is increasing, and Minsk’s freedom of maneuver continues to shrink.