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May 19, 2022
EDITORIAL

A proxy war between Russia and the West? (IV)

It is obvious that the West is highly interested in an agreement with Russia, because the aggressiveness shown by the latter to Europe especially is a threat that costs them a lot (expenses for defence, economical consequences, a climate of instability and so on.) A report published on February 10, 2015, by the British Parliament, showing the present status of the EU relations with Russia and their future notes that, although the present image of bilateral relations is discouraging, they must be built on a concept of cooperation and not on conflict for the future. The recommendations include cooperation on common economical space from Lisbon to Vladivostok (a “fabulous idea” that needs further explanations, as Russia had revealed it without any further details, although the Occident insisted on asking for them); the security architecture in Europe must be recreated, taking into account that Russia “sees” this Euro-Asian Union as a project of developing its regional influence in competition with the EU (avoiding incompatibility between these two groups, that might lead to a separating line in Europe); reshaping the instruments of EU policy of vicinity near Russia’s borders (“a ring of well-governed states on the EU’s periphery is in the EU’s strategic interests, while on the other, European security cannot be built in the face of sustained Russian opposition.”); restructuring the Eastern Partnership and so on. Therefore, the position of the report, vastly motivated and proved, is to engage Russia to “voice not veto”. As for the security architecture in Europe, the report noted that the recent crisis in Ukraine proves that “we have no effective collective security mechanisms in Europe”, that OSCE lost part of its legitimacy and showed no efficiency, and the NATO expansion towards Baltic states and the installing of the US missile defence system were moves received with hostility by Russia, therefore, a reformulation is needed. It is mentioned that “EU had no choice but to discuss these issues with Russia: security in Europe will never be achieved without including Russia in one way or another.”

Proposals for a mega-Yalta in solving the competition-conflict that opposes Putin’s Russia to the West did not fail to appear. An initial proposal on this topic was published in the British newspaper “The Independent” on November 7, 2014. The authors of the article entitled “Russia and the West need a compromise over the Crimea”, Alexander Lebedev and Vladislav  Inozemtzev are trying to point out that a “grand bargain” is needed between Russia and the Occident. It might have the gift of “allowing both sides to save face but also to unlock the existing logjam. The West should rethink its attitude towards Russia’s actions in Crimea as being open and clear aggression; Russia, on its part, should clarify the causes for its annexation, even if it retains its control over the peninsula.” The authors are even proposing “a new Yalta Conference” (a hint to the meeting of the three grand leaders, Roosevelt, Stalin and Churchill, in Yalta, in February 1945, which remained in history as an agreement of the winners of WWII on the postwar settings, most of them still active today). For the sake of symmetry, authors suggest that this conference, Yalta-2, “would be quite symbolic if it convenes in February 2015. Crimea could be proclaimed a special economic zone under Russian jurisdiction – something similar to Hong Kong or the  Black Sea. With the Western sanctions lifted, the peninsula could become a  crossroads for businesses from Russia, from Europe, and, not least, from Ukraine”. Authors – A. Lebedev, the editor-in-chief of “Novaia Gazeta” in Moscow and of “The Independent” in Londra, and V. Inozemtsev, an expert in international relations, received a crushing reader response: “Kremlin affiliated Russian oligarch that hapens to own The Independent whitewashing Russian aggression and subsequent annexation of Crimea”. It is worth mentioning that Vladislav Inozemtsev was known for such symbolic idea of Yalta-2, as, in an article published in the American magazine “The National Interest”, on September 25, 2015, he developed a three-step plan, and the last step was, in his vision, “a crucial international conference on the new security architecture in Southern Europe, bringing together representatives from Russia, the EU, and the United States. The most symbolically-resonant place for such a conference would be the Livadian Palace in Crimea, and the most symbolic time, February 2015. The objective of the New Yalta Conference would be the formulation of the conditions for peace in the east of Ukraine and the elaboration of a common attitude toward unrecognized states or territories outside internationally recognized borders. Crimea, Abkhazia, and other ‚unrecognized’ countries could be turned into ‚bridges’ contributing to co-operation between the European Union, Russia, and other nations of the former Soviet Union.” It is interesting to mention that the plan imagined by Inozemtsev to solve the conflict in Ukraine by “grand bargain” also includes, in this version, a lot more than Crimea, as presented later in the version published by “The Independent”, it was taking into account the complete situation of borders in the former Sovietic space, the fact that they were guaranteed by NATO, the appearance of new states such as Ossetia and Abhazia, therefore the fact that Georgia also fell apart, and the stabilization of the situation in Southern and Eastern Europe for the next few decades. Says Inozemtsev: “In fact, the task of the conference should be redrawing the lines of power running through Eastern and Southern Europe, which would secure new borders and frontiers for the coming decades and protect them from challenges arising from either side.”

Although he avoids to put it so blunty, Russian expert F. Lukianov, the editor in chief of the magazine “Russia in Global Affairs” published on February 26, 201 an article in this publication entitled “Everybody does what they can”. The point made by Lukianov is that we are presently in a situation that also existed during the 80s in the previous century, when Gorbachev had tried to negotiate a new global order with the West, suggesting the idea of a “common house”. Once USSR disappeared, the project of such world order vanished as well; nonetheless, Russia is behaving today like a revisionist state. Therefore, Russia is promoting an opposition to the American  hegemony – and it is pointed out that Russia is not the only country acting this way – and, at the same time, it chose from the two contradictory principles of the UNO – the territorial integrity of states and the right of nations to self-determination – the one that facilitates the change of borders (as it happened in August 2008 and in March 2014). Lukianov outlines his opinion that, today, “everybody does what they can” about the projection of power, be it either “the green men in Crimea” or the “soft” version, such as the presence of foreign MPs and diplomats of the West on the Euro-Maidan (Ukraine’s opposition to Putin’s politics, editor’s note), violating the partnership of peaceful cohabitation. We are thus returning, Lukianov states, to the 80s – and the author suggests that an agreement to establish the changes in the world order would be highly expected.

As for our opinion, we think that all of these mentions do not exhaust the file of probability of a “mega-Yalta”, although some of them are genuinely detailed in elaboration the concept of such agreement.

 

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