Saturday, February 24, 2007

Kremlin versus Tymoshenko

Russian Federation
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Information and Press Office

Comment Concerning a Question From the Novosti
Russian Information Agency Regarding
Yu.V. Tymoshenko's Article
"Containing Russia" in the Foreign Affairs Magazine

Translated from the Russian by Vova Khavkin

Question: How would you comment on Yu.V. Tymoshenko's article "Containing Russia" scheduled to appear in the next issue of the Foreign Affairs Magazine?

Comment: Usually we do not comment on articles in foreign mass media but in this case we have every reason to make an exception. We are obviously dealing with some kind of anti-Russian manifesto, an attempt once again to draw the lines of division in Europe and, as a minimum, return the world to the "Cold War" environment. Those who drafted this article clearly miss the days gone by and are nostalgic about the militarily simple relations in Europe. Just as the Bourbons did after the Reformation, they forgot nothing and learned nothing. Hence such a thorough "parsing of the issue" -- starting with George Kennan's "Long Telegram" and later on. In so doing, the lessons of the "Cold War" and George Kennan's own more recent assessments -- where he admitted in particular that instead of a political settlement of the differences, "What was required of the Soviet Union was unconditional capitulation, but the country was too strong to accept this1" -- was clearly ignored.

What is also noteworthy is Henry Kissinger's admission -- he wrote that through the containment policy the United States "created an impression among the Soviets that we were trying permanently to corral the USSR into a no-win position." [1] One could also agree with the premise that the United States "[A]lso were not fully aware of the security needs of a continental power (which the Soviet Union was)"1 and "[W]ere not understanding of the problems of a country that had been subject to numerous invasions." [1] The snapshot of that period in world affairs -- a period that exacted a high price from all states -- is made whole when one considers [the policy of] demonizing the opponent and a black-and-white vision of the world.

We are convinced that more than ever before today we need an unbiased evaluation of the sources of the "Cold War" which was unleashed by a decision made in an inner circle of two [world] powers. One of them saw the ideological schism in the world as an acceptable way of maintaining its global status after the inevitable loss of its empire while the other -- an opportunity to assert itself in world affairs by reliance on military power. Today, guided by own mercenary interests, somebody would also like to be the supreme decision-maker.

The article under Yu.V. Tymoshenko's byline does not contain a single thesis that we had not already heard one way or another in recent years. The wording is also painfully familiar. Despite the end of the "Cold War" forces that still cannot get over themselves and overcome the intellectual and political-psychological legacy of that period, including the policy of “containing Russia”, are still at play in global affairs. The world is once again suffocating from ideology and official propaganda. In essence, a pseudo-theoretical foundation that appeals to the worst prejudices and instincts of the recent and not so recent past is being laid so as to continue the old policy in the new environment. These prejudices' viability could perhaps be explained by Henry Morgenthau's observation where he noted that the United States' adherence to the philosophy of anticommunism "[W]as much stronger and less subject to influence by reasons of national interest that the Russians' devotion to the spread of communism." [1]

One should perhaps welcome the fact that these forces decided to advance so openly. At the very least, much becomes clear and falls in its rightful place. For this alone the authors of the article deserve praise. The unwillingness to cooperate with Russia on an equal basis, the course toward re-polarizing and re-militarizing international relations, NATO's eastward expansion and the tactic of "annoying actions" aimed at Russia in the former Soviet Union countries, and plans for setting up [elements of] a U.S. global missile defense system in Europe -- all this fits a single strategy which, it seems, is called upon effecting a "unipolar world" against all evidence to the contrary. Fifteen years is a long enough time to realize the illusory nature of this undertaking. We would not want to think that today's crisis in Ukraine is also a part of this scenario of "reliving the past." As history always has it, this may end up being just a farce and further destabilize the situation.

One should not underestimate the danger of these attempts to turn back the clock. Whatever the case, Russia will not allow to get herself drawn into a new confrontation for which there is no underlying basis. We will not give in to provocations. Such surrealism in world affairs is also fraught with the danger of limiting the opportunities for international cooperation across the entire range of problems common to all states, including new challenges and threats to security and sustainable development and settlement of regional conflicts. And this would be against everyone's interest.

One gets a nagging feeling that someone is simply accustomed to living in the shadow of the "wall" that separates Europe. They want once again to feel the old "comfort" -- albeit [living] on the "right side" of it. One can also sense the desire to make a living from the division of Europe, from attempts to turn the area along Russia's western frontier into a frontline. Under the conditions where processes that cause concern in the rest of Europe are underway it is difficult not see that such efforts are more than just longing for the past. This development is an integral part of the processes -- which mark the turning tide in the current phase of European and global affairs -- that President V.V. Putin warned about in Munich.

In our view this policy is a challenge to all of Europe, all international community, and multilateral diplomacy. In this environment Russia will continue consistently to adhere to such international principles as pragmatic and multidimensional policy, to advance a positive agenda for international relations, and [to offer] constructive solutions to the problems of world development today.

The article confirms the relevance of the appeal to a serious and frank dialogue made by President of the Russian Federation V.V. Putin in his Munich address. Furthermore, the Russian leader did so in a direct and open fashion, whereas those who are hiding behind Yu.V. Tymoshenko's article for hire did not have the courage to comport themselves with the same dignity. It is evident that without a common understanding of the world we all live in one could hardly move far ahead in international cooperation. It is also obvious that those who avoid such debates have something to hide.

16 April 2007


Translator's note:

1 Given in reverse translation from the Russian, meaning that translating directly from Russian to English does not produce the exact quotation of the speaker. The translator disapproves of this practice.

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