With Russia’s presidential election this Sunday, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin wrote this 7,500 word opus in Moscow newspaper Moskovskiye Novosti, outlining what the once and apparently future Russian president thinks of the United States and NATO, the use of NGOs in foreign lands (like Egypt), Afghanistan and drug trafficking, the civil conflict in Syria, human rights in Russia and around the world, China, the Arab Spring, U.N. intrusions into the sovereignty of nations and many other issues. Given Putin’s unique influence over Russia affairs, it is a fascinating read into what Moscow is likely to do in the coming years.
From the Moskovskiye Novosti, here are a few snippets from Putin’s article:
On violating national sovereignty and to protect human rights and the excessive use of force by the U.S. and NATO:
It is vital that the United Nations and its Security Council effectively counter the dictates of certain countries and their arbitrary actions on the global stage. No one has the right to usurp the prerogatives and powers of the United Nation, particularly by using force against sovereign nations. This concerns NATO, an organization that has assumed an attitude inconsistent with a “defensive alliance.” These issues are very serious. We recall how states that have fallen victim to “humanitarian” operations and the export of “missile-and-bomb democracy” have appealed for a respect of legal standards and common human decency. But their cries were in vain. Their appeals went unheard.
It seems that NATO members, especially the United States, have developed a peculiar interpretation of security that is different from ours. The Americans have become obsessed with the idea of becoming absolutely invulnerable. This utopian concept is unfeasible both technologically and geopolitically – but it is the root of the problem.
By definition, total invulnerability for one country would in theory require absolute vulnerability for all others. This is completely unacceptable. For a variety of reasons, many countries prefer not to be straight about this, but that is another matter. Russia will always call a spade a spade and do so openly. I would like to emphasize again that a violation of the principle of unity and the indivisibility of security – despite [America’s] numerous declarations of commitment to it – poses a serious threat.
On the Arab Spring:
A year ago, the world witnessed a new phenomenon: almost simultaneous demonstrations in many Arab countries against authoritarian regimes. The Arab Spring was initially perceived with hope for positive change. Russia’s people sympathized with those who were seeking democratic reform.
However, it soon became clear that in many countries, events were not following a civilized path. Instead of asserting democracy and protecting the rights of minorities, attempts were being made to stage a coup and depose an enemy. This only resulted in replacing one dominant force with another even more aggressive dominant force.
Foreign interference and the use of force in support of one side of a domestic conflict gave developments a negative aura. By using air power in the name of humanitarian support, a number of countries did away with the Libyan regime. The revolting slaughter of Muammar Qaddafi – not just medieval but primeval – was the embodiment of these actions.
No one should be permitted to use the Libya scenario on Syria. The global community must work to achieve inter-Syrian reconciliation.
The operation of non-governmental organizations in foreign lands, which would apply to Egypt as much as it does Russia:
There must be a clear division between free speech and normal political activity on the one hand, and illegal instruments of “soft power” on the other. The civilized work of non-governmental humanitarian and charity organizations deserves every support. This also applies to those who actively criticize the current authorities. However, the activities of “pseudo-NGOs” and other agencies that try to destabilize other countries with outside support are unacceptable.
I’m referring to those cases in which the activities of NGOs are not based on the interests (and resources) of local social groups, but are instead funded and supported by outside forces.
However, Russia doesn’t use or fund national NGOs or foreign political organizations in pursuit of its own interests based in other countries. Neither do China, India and Brazil. We believe that any influence over domestic policy and public attitudes in other states must be exerted in the open. This way, those who seek to exert influence will do so responsibly.
Iran and North Korea:
I am convinced that this issue must be settled exclusively by peaceful means. We propose recognizing Iran’s right to develop a civilian nuclear program, including the right to enrich uranium. But this must only be pursued in exchange for putting all Iranian nuclear activity under reliable and comprehensive IAEA oversight. If Tehran agrees to do so, all sanctions against Iran, including the unilateral ones, must be rescinded. The West has shown too much willingness to “punish” certain countries. With every minor development, the West reaches for sanctions if not armed force. Let me remind you that we are not in the 19th century – or even the 20th.
Developments surrounding the Korean nuclear issue are no less serious. Violating the non-proliferation regime, Pyongyang openly claims the right to develop “the military atom” and has already conducted two nuclear tests. We cannot accept North Korea’s nuclear status. We have consistently advocated the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula – exclusively through political and diplomatic means – and the early resumption of Six-Party Talks.
The fervor surrounding nuclear programs in Iran and North Korea brings up the question of how the risk of nuclear weapons proliferation has emerged and who is aggravating it. It appears that the more frequent crude and even armed interference by outside forces in the domestic affairs of other nations, the more likely it is that hard authoritarian (and other) regimes wish to possess nuclear weapons. If I have an A-Bomb in my pocket, no one will touch me, because to do so would be more trouble than it is worth. And those who don’t have the bomb might have to sit and wait for “humanitarian intervention.”
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