On Saturday, November 20, 2021, Fyodor Lukyanov, Editor-in-Chief of Russia in Global Affairs magazine, took part in Keynote Panel, titled “The Geopolitics of Competition and Alignments: How Far will the Strategic Rivalries Go and What are the Chances for Rapprochement?”, within the framework of a virtual Global Town Hall conference.
The session, titled “The Geopolitics of Competition and Alignments: How Far will the Strategic Rivalries Go and What are the Chances for Rapprochement?”, was devoted to the situation in the Asia-Pacific region. Fyodor Lukyanov noted that Russia is both a part of this region and is distanced from it — not geographically, but mentally. Its political thinking is still too Western-centric. Talking about how the experience of the US-Soviet confrontation during the Cold War can be relevant for the US-China confrontation in the region, he stressed that the stability of the Cold War was based on nuclear deterrence and mutual assured destruction.
Lukyanov also pointed out an important difference between the Cold War and the current state of affairs. The Cold War was an ideological conflict, but both conflicting ideologies were based on Western philosophy and proceeded from a common cultural paradigm. Now it is possible that we are dealing with a clash of cultures, which significantly complicates the situation.
Another important difference, according to Lukyanov, is that during the Cold War weaker countries were forced to choose sides; in the current era, however, due to the decline of universalism they are likely to try in every possible way to avoid choosing and obeying others’ rules.
In conclusion, he noted that one of the main victims of the post-Cold War period was trust in international relations. This period gave rise to the illusion of a transition to a new world order, but it is over and now international relations are working as trust in such a situation should be built on realism, honesty and a frank discussion of the balance of power and military issues, Lukyanov believes. China and the United States, as key actors in the region, must take these changes seriously and stop thinking that economic interdependence can protect us from war.
The Global Town Hall conference was organised by the Indonesian Foreign Policy Community. Global Town Hall is an open virtual platform which features a space for communication between world leaders and intellectuals, as well as various social organisations.
The session was also attended by Kishore Mahbubani, Distinguished Fellow of the Asia Research Institute (ARI) at National University of Singapore (NUS); Stephen Smith, Minister of Defense (2010-2013), Minister of Foreign Affairs of Australia (2007-2010); Major General (Ret.) Dr. Yao Yunzhu, Senior Advisor at China Association of Military Sciences, Academic Committee Member at Center for International Security and Strategy (CISS) at Tsinghua University.