Connect with us

Latest

Analysis

News

Russia’s nuclear diplomacy has returned Moscow’s global strategic reach

Often overlooked by most observers of Russian foreign policy, Moscow’s skillful use of nuclear diplomacy has allowed the former superpower to once again have a global strategic reach.

Andrew Korybko

Published

on

3,693 Views

 

Russian foreign policy has undergone a renaissance over the past couple of years as its “progressive” faction emerged at the fore of decision-making and bravely pioneered non-traditional partnerships all across the “Ummah” (global Muslim community). This took place concurrently with the country’s “Pivot to Asia”, more accurately described as a “Rebalancing to Asia”, which also saw Russia engage in a diplomatic balancing act with Japan, Vietnam, and India – all of which has been to its Chinese ally’s benefit. Both Eastern (or in the case of the Ummah, Southern) vectors of contemporary Russian foreign policy were greatly enhance by Moscow’s use of military diplomacy in selling (or seeking to sell) weapons to competing sides of any given rivalry in order to maintain the strategic equilibirum between them and therefore preserve the overall peace.

The Core Concept Of Nuclear Diplomacy

Lost amid the more “newsworthy” and “headline-grabbing” manifestations of Russia’s foreign policy resurgence has been its use of nuclear diplomacy as a means of regaining its global strategic reach. This concept can be described as Russia’s effort to clinch nuclear energy partnerships with countries all across the world, and considering that it’s the global leader in this field, it’s been highly successful in this regard. Nuclear energy deals are important for much more than “green”/”clean energy” considerations, as they imply a very high-level and trusted relationship between the two parties. Moreover, every agreement that Russia reaches with its partners includes educational and technical components, meaning that Moscow usually ends up training a new cadre of scientific elites in the partner countries and continues to provide assistance to them for years after the reactor is built.

These long-term and largely unseen elements of Russia’s nuclear diplomacy allow one to speak of this approach as being a highly strategic manifestation of Moscow’s future planning, and accordingly, it also has geopolitical dimensions as well. The countries with which Russia seals nuclear energy deals are presumed to also be pursuing a parallel track of diplomacy in improving the all-around nature of their relationship, with the inclusion of nuclear diplomacy serving both as a symbol of this and also a catalyst designed to speed up the process in taking it to the next level. The exact nature of how this works varies from country to country, but the model remains the same – nuclear diplomacy is an integral component of Russia’s foreign policy toolkit, and it invariably carries with it significant geopolitical dimensions which have allowed Moscow to once again have a global strategic reach.

Great Power Friendship

Russia’s nuclear diplomacy can be split up into two categories of partnerships, Great Powers and Pivot States (including both actual and intended projects). The first are Russia’s privileged partners given the “19th-Century Great Power Chessboard” paradigm that’s driving its “progressive” foreign policy leaders, which to summarize, is that Russia prioritizes the betterment of all-around relations with its similarly sized Great Power peers at the perceived (key word) expense of its smaller- and medium-sized partners in order to advance the “greater good” of multipolarity. Unlike with military diplomacy, it’s difficult for any observer to identify a potential “zero-sum” tradeoff regarding Russia’s nuclear partnerships with Great Powers and Pivot States, though the point in bringing up this stratagem is that it explains why Russia has clinched important nuclear energy deals with India, Turkey, and Iran.

In addition, Russia’s talks on this topic with Egypt, Ethiopia, and even its possible bid in building a nuclear reactor in Saudi Arabia make a lot more sense when viewed through this paradigm. Moscow was previously excited about building a nuclear power plant in fellow BRICS-member South Africa, but this ambition was regrettably sidelined by a “deep state” quasi-judicial plot earlier this year and remains in limbo at the moment. Altogether, however, these seven countries are Great Powers in their given geographic spaces, and Russia’s employment of nuclear diplomacy with each of them – regardless of the success achieved this far – showcases Moscow’s desire to use this as means of solidifying long-standing relations such as the one with India, or streamlining new ones with non-traditional partners such as Saudi Arabia and post-Cold War Ethiopia, all of which could endow Russia with valuable geostrategic benefits in the New Cold War.

Pivot State Partnerships

As for the Pivot States, notable examples to bring up are Bolivia, Paraguay, Hungary, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Laos, and Cambodia. The first two compromise part of the “Pivot Belt” that the author extensively analyzed in his book-length article series about South American geopolitics, and they allow Russia to importantly hold sway in the continent’s central heartland right near the middle of China’s planned Transoceanic Railroad. As for Hungary, this Russian-friendly country sits squarely in the center of Central Europe and endows Russia with a useful partner in the EU. Bangladesh and Myanmar, for their part, are indispensable components of the overland portion of India’s “Act East” policy of ASEAN engagement, and Russia’s desire to strengthen ties with them by means of nuclear diplomacy is a prudent move to give itself a strategic presence along this competitive connectivity route which could one day pave the way for future commercial ventures.

There’s also another reason why Myanmar is the focus of Russia’s nuclear diplomacy nowadays, and it’s because it pairs excellently with Laos and Cambodia in providing Moscow with a strategic “backdoor” to ASEAN via its poorest members. Although the author described the rationale behind this in a previous article elaborating on how Russia could take advantage of these three states’ special economic zones (SEZs), the same logic holds true for nuclear diplomacy and other forms of cooperation as well. Taken together, Russia’s nuclear diplomacy outreaches to pivotally positioned states such as the seven that were mentioned above demonstrates that Moscow is keenly aware of their strategic significance and is using this high-level track of diplomacy to comprehensively deepen its relations with them, focusing first on nuclear energy cooperation and then eventually expanding its ties to include economic, military, and political elements with time.

Concluding Thoughts

Russia is the world leader in the nuclear energy field, and it regularly uses this to its benefit in strengthening relations with Great Powers and Pivot States alike, whether long-running partners inherited from the Soviet period or non-traditional ones which have been reached out to recently. The clever use of nuclear diplomacy has seen Moscow expand its influence into regions of the “Global South” which it would otherwise be unable to compete in, such as South America, Africa, and South-Southeast Asia, and then leverage this advantage to promote its own multidimensional interests in the economic, military, political, and other spheres of bilateral relations. The impressive geographic scope of Russia’s nuclear diplomacy has allowed the country to regain its global strategic reach, but unlike in the Old Cold War when Moscow was exporting the communist ideology to these far-flung regions as a means of acquiring influence there, this time in the New Cold War it’s exporting nuclear energy technology there to do the same thing but in a much more sustainable way.

DISCLAIMER: The author writes for this publication in a private capacity which is unrepresentative of anyone or any organization except for his own personal views. Nothing written by the author should ever be conflated with the editorial views or official positions of any other media outlet or institution. 

Liked it? Take a second to support The Duran on Patreon!
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

avatar
  Subscribe  
Notify of

Latest

Bercow blocks Brexit vote, May turns to EU for lifeline (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 112.

Alex Christoforou

Published

on

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss Theresa May’s latest Brexit dilemma, as House of Commons Speaker John Bercow, shocked the world by citing a 1604 precedent that now effectively blocks May’s third go around at trying to pass her treacherous Brexit deal through the parliament.

All power now rests with the Brussels, as to how, if and when the UK will be allowed to leave the European Union.

Remember to Please Subscribe to The Duran’s YouTube Channel.

Follow The Duran Audio Podcast on Soundcloud.

Via Bloomberg


Theresa May claims Brexit is about taking back control. Ten days before the U.K. is due to leave the European Union, it looks like anything but.

House of Commons Speaker John Bercow’s intervention, citing precedent dating back to 1604, to rule out a repeat vote on May’s already defeated departure deal leaves the prime minister exposed ahead of Thursday’s EU summit in Brussels.

Bercow, whose cries of “Orrdurrr! Orrdurrr!’’ to calm rowdy lawmakers have gained him a devoted international following, is now the pivotal figure in the Brexit battle. May’s team privately accuse him of trying to frustrate the U.K.’s exit from the EU, while the speaker’s admirers say he’s standing up for the rights of parliament against the executive.

If just one of the 27 other states declines May’s summit appeal to extend the divorce timetable, then the no-deal cliff edge looms for Britain’s departure on March 29. If they consent, it’s unclear how May can meet Bercow’s test that only a substantially different Brexit agreement merits another vote in parliament, since the EU insists it won’t reopen negotiations.

Caught between Bercow and Brussels, May’s room for maneuver is shrinking. Amid rumblings that their patience with the U.K. is near exhaustion, EU leaders are girding for the worst.

Liked it? Take a second to support The Duran on Patreon!
Continue Reading

Latest

President Putin signs law blocking fake news, but the West makes more

Western media slams President Putin and his fake news law, accusing him of censorship, but an actual look at the law reveals some wisdom.

Seraphim Hanisch

Published

on

The TASS Russian News Agency reported on March 18th that Russian President Vladimir Putin signed off on a new law intended to block distorted or untrue information being reported as news. Promptly after he did so, Western news organizations began their attempt to “spin” this event as some sort of proof of “state censorship” in the oppressive sense of the old Soviet Union. In other words, a law designed to prevent fake news was used to create more fake news.

One of the lead publications is a news site that is itself ostensibly a “fake news” site. The Moscow Times tries to portray itself as a Russian publication that is conducted from within Russian borders. However, this site and paper is really a Western publication, run by a Dutch foundation located in the Netherlands. As such, the paper and the website associated have a distinctly pro-West slant in their reporting. Even Wikipedia noted this with this comment from their entry about the publication:

In the aftermath of the Ukrainian crisis, The Moscow Times was criticized by a number of journalists including Izvestia columnist Israel Shamir, who in December 2014 called it a “militant anti-Putin paper, a digest of the Western press with extreme bias in covering events in Russia”.[3] In October 2014 The Moscow Times made the decision to suspend online comments after an increase in offensive comments. The paper said it disabled comments for two reasons—it was an inconvenience for its readers as well as being a legal liability, because under Russian law websites are liable for all content, including user-generated content like comments.[14]

This bias is still notably present in what is left of the publication, which is now an online-only news source. This is some of what The Moscow Times had to say about the new fake news legislation:

The bills amending existing information laws overwhelmingly passed both chambers of Russian parliament in less than two months. Observers and some lawmakers have criticized the legislation for its vague language and potential to stifle free speech.

The legislation will establish punishments for spreading information that “exhibits blatant disrespect for the society, government, official government symbols, constitution or governmental bodies of Russia.”

Insulting state symbols and the authorities, including Putin, will carry a fine of up to 300,000 rubles and 15 days in jail for repeat offenses.

As is the case with other Russian laws, the fines are calculated based on whether the offender is a citizen, an official or a legal entity.

More than 100 journalists and public figures, including human rights activist Zoya Svetova and popular writer Lyudmila Ulitskaya, signed a petition opposing the laws, which they labeled “direct censorship.”

This piece does give a bit of explanation from Dmitry Peskov, showing that European countries also have strict laws governing fake news distribution. However, the Times made the point of pointing out the idea of “insulting governmental bodies of Russia… including Putin” to bolster their claim that this law amounts to real censorship of the press. It developed its point of view based on a very short article from Reuters which says even less about the legislation and how it works.

However, TASS goes into rather exhaustive detail about this law, and it also gives rather precise wording on the reason for the law’s passage, as well as how it is to be enforced. We include most of this text here, with emphases added:

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a law on blocking untrue and distorting information (fake news). The document was posted on the government’s legal information web portal.

The document supplements the list of information, the access to which may be restricted on the demand by Russia’s Prosecutor General or his deputies. In particular, it imposes a ban on “untrue publicly significant information disseminated in the media and in the Internet under the guise of true reports, which creates a threat to the life and (or) the health of citizens, property, a threat of the mass violation of public order and (or) public security, or the threat of impeding or halting the functioning of vital infrastructural facilities, transport or social infrastructure, credit institutions, energy, industrial or communications facilities.”

Pursuant to the document, in case of finding such materials in Internet resources registered in accordance with the Russian law on the mass media as an online media resource, Russia’s Prosecutor General or his deputies will request the media watchdog Roskomnadzor to restrict access to the corresponding websites.

Based on this request, Roskomnadzor will immediately notify the editorial board of the online media resource, which is in violation of the legislation, about the need to remove untrue information and the media resource will be required to delete such materials immediately. If the editorial board fails to take the necessary measures, Roskomnadzor will send communications operators “a demand to take measures to restrict access to the online resource.”

In case of deleting such untrue information, the website owner will notify Roskomnadzor thereof, following which the media watchdog will “hold a check into the authenticity of this notice” and immediately inform the communications operator about the resumption of the access to the information resource.
The conditions for the law are very specific, as are the penalties for breaking it. TASS continued:

Liability for breaching the law

Simultaneously, the Federation Council approved the associated law with amendments to Russia’s Code of Administrative Offences, which stipulates liability in the form of penalties of up to 1.5 million rubles (around $23,000) for the spread of untrue and distorting information.

The Code’s new article, “The Abuse of the Freedom of Mass Information,” stipulates liability for disseminating “deliberately untrue publicly significant information” in the media or in the Internet. The penalty will range from 30,000 rubles ($450) to 100,000 rubles ($1,520) for citizens, from 60,000 rubles ($915) to 200,000 rubles ($3,040) for officials and from 200,000 rubles to 500,000 rubles ($7,620) for corporate entities with the possible confiscation of the subject of the administrative offence.

Another element of offence imposes tighter liability for the cases when the publication of false publicly significant information has resulted in the deaths of people, has caused damage to the health or property, prompted the mass violation of public order and security or has caused disruption to the functioning of transport or social infrastructure facilities, communications, energy and industrial facilities and banks. In such instances, the fines will range from 300,000 rubles to 400,000 rubles ($6,090) for citizens, from 600,000 rubles to 900,000 rubles ($13,720) for officials, and from 1 million rubles to 1.5 million rubles for corporate entities.

While this legislation can be spun (and is) in the West as anti-free speech, one may also consider the damage that has taken place in the American government through a relentless attack of fake news from most US news outlets against President Trump. One of the most notable effects of this barrage has been to further degrade and destroy the US’ relationship with the Russian Federation, because even the Helsinki Summit was attacked so badly that the two leaders have not been able to get a second summit together.

While it is certainly a valued right of the American press to be unfettered by Congress, and while it is also certainly vital to criticize improper practices by government officials, the American news agencies have gone far past that, to deliberately dishonest attacks, based in innuendo and everything possible that was formerly only the province of gossip tabloid publications. The effort has been to defame the President, not to give proper or due criticism to his policies, nor credit. It can be properly stated that the American press has abused its freedom of late.

This level of abuse drew a very unusual comment from the US president, who wondered on Twitter about the possibility of creating a state-run media center in the US to counter fake news:

Politically correct for US audiences? No. But an astute point?

Definitely.

Freedom in anything also presumes that those with that freedom respect it, and further, that they respect and apply the principle that slandering people and institutions for one’s own personal, business or political gain is wrong. Implied in the US Constitution’s protection of the press is the notion that the press itself, as the rest of the country, is accountable to a much Higher Authority than the State. But when that Authority is rejected, as so much present evidence suggests, then freedom becomes the freedom to misbehave and to agitate. It appears largely within this context that the Russian law exists, based on the text given.

Further, by hitting dishonest media outlets in their pocketbook, rather than prison sentences, the law appears to be very smart in its message: “Do not lie. If you do, you will suffer where it counts most.”

Considering that news media’s purpose is to make money, this may actually be a very smart piece of legislation.

Liked it? Take a second to support The Duran on Patreon!
Continue Reading

Latest

ABC’s Ted Koppel admits mainstream media bias against Trump [Video]

The mainstream news media has traded informing the public for indoctrinating them, but the change got called out by an “old-school” journo.

Seraphim Hanisch

Published

on

Fox News reported on March 19th that one of America’s most well-known TV news anchors, Ted Koppel, noted that the once-great media outlets like The New York Times and The Washington Post, have indeed traded journalistic excellence for hit pieces for political purposes. While political opinions in the mainstream press are certainly within the purview of any publication, this sort of writing can hardly be classified as “news” but as “Opinion” or more widely known, “Op-Ed.”

We have two videos on this. The first is the original clip showing the full statement that Mr. Koppel gave. It is illuminating, to say the least:

Tucker Carlson and Brit Hume, a former colleague of Mr. Koppel, added their comments on this admission in this second short video piece, shown here.

There are probably a number of people who have watched this two-year onslaught of slander and wondered why there cannot be a law preventing this sort of misleading reporting. Well, Russia passed a law to stop it, hitting dishonest media outlets in their pocketbook. It is a smart law because it does not advocate imprisonment for bad actors in the media, but it does fine them.

Going to prison for reporting “the truth” looks very noble. Having to pay out of pocket for it is not so exciting.

Newsmax and Louder with Crowder both reported on this as well.

This situation of dishonest media has led to an astonishing 77% distrust rating among Americans of their news media, this statistic being reported by Politico in 2018. This represents a nearly diametric reversal in trust from the 72% trust rating the country’s news viewers gave their news outlets in 1972. These statistics come from Gallup polls taken through the years.

 

Liked it? Take a second to support The Duran on Patreon!
Continue Reading

JOIN OUR YOUTUBE CHANNEL

Your donations make all the difference. Together we can expose fake news lies and deliver truth.

Amount to donate in USD$:

5 100

Validating payment information...
Waiting for PayPal...
Validating payment information...
Waiting for PayPal...
Advertisement

Advertisement

Quick Donate

The Duran
EURO
DONATE
Donate a quick 10 spot!
Advertisement
Advertisement

Advertisement

The Duran Newsletter

Trending