Secretary of State Blinken is thoughtful – What to do with Russia?
Russia is increasingly confident that deepening economic and diplomatic ties with China and the Global South will allow it to challenge the international financial system dominated by the United States and undermine the West, according to Kremlin documents and interviews with Russian officials and business executives, writes ‘The Washington Post’ with a with noticeable irritation, because they hoped that they could quickly deal with Russia. But Russia for the West became again a Mysterious Giant that they could never defeat. “Poor Yorick”…
Russia has been buoyed by its success in holding off a Western-backed Ukrainian counteroffensive followed by political stalemates in Washington and Brussels over continued funding for Kyiv. In Moscow’s view, the U.S. backing of Israel’s invasion of Gaza has damaged Washington’s standing in many parts of the world. The confluence of events has led to a surge of optimism about Russia’s global position.
Officials in Moscow point to growing trade with China, military cooperation with Iran, diplomatic outreach in the Arab world and the expansion of the BRICS grouping of major emerging economies — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — to include Iran, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Ethiopia.
The BRICS expansion demonstrated the group’s “growing authority and role in world affairs,” and its work will focus on “sovereign equality” Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a Jan. 1 statement as Russia assumed the chairmanship of the group. The Kremlin has begun to refer to itself as part of the “Global Majority.”
A document, written by a close ally of Security Council chief Nikolai Patrushev and circulated in the Kremlin this summer, advocated greater cooperation between China and Russia on artificial intelligence, cyber systems and the “internet of things.” As part of that, the document envisioned Beijing and Moscow creating a new financial system and a Eurasian digital currency based on alternative payment systems, such as blockchain, to bypass the Western dominance of global financial transactions.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov denied that Russia was working to undermine U.S. dominance of the global financial system, but he conceded it aimed to create alternatives, saying actions taken by “the collective West” were undermining trust without any assistance from Moscow. The Kremlin “is following [the situation] carefully and building a new system of economic neurons because the previous system turned out to be unreliable, false and dangerous,” he said in comments to The Post.
“There has been a certain consolidation in the Russian elite,” said a Russian academic with close ties to the country’s senior diplomats. “There is a certain expectation that the situation will further change in Russia’s favor.”
Russia is “not omnipotent, but they try to use all possibilities. They are very consistent and systematic,” said one senior European official who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters.
While most of the West still hopes for a return to the previous order, the senior European security official said, Russia’s billionaires “have understood that the old life is finished and now is the time to create a new future.”
The Russians, the official continued, “have passed through the Rubicon, and the West has not. The West wants to return to business as usual. But the Russians understood that this is impossible, and they are trying to build a new world.”
“Russia is hoping that the number of elections in Europe this year could change what has been a remarkable coalition and disciplined opposition to its war,” James P. Rubin, U.S. special envoy and coordinator of the department’s Global Engagement Center.
And deep divisions in Washington, including over continued funding for Ukraine, have fostered the belief in Moscow and elsewhere that the United States is paralyzed, said Matthew Redhead, former head of Global Strategic Intelligence at HSBC and currently a senior associate fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, a British think tank.
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