In Part I of our series on the Russian State of the Nation speech given annually, this year by President Vladimir Putin, we outlined Russia’s position as regards military and geopolitical pressure from the United States and Great Britain. We did this to offer (as best we can) the Russian point of view, much of which was filtered by Western media in its never-ending drive to isolate and demonize the Russian Federation.
Part II of this report explains part of why this attack from the West is taking place: Russia is helping to create a network of economic alliances that operates far differently from the present US hegemony. The foundations of the Russian efforts seem largely philosophically based on the very different perspective that Russians have about people in the world.
As in our earlier report, we are simply lifting the relevant sections of the President’s State of the Nation address and adding emphasis and comment where needed. The full address is available for reading in English at kremlin.ru, or by following this linked text. We start, oddly enough, the same way we started to discuss the military policy of the Russian Federation. However, this is understandable in the context that military policy is meant to be a subset of all foreign policy, that is, the “court of last resort” in deteriorating relations between nations.
Colleagues, Russia has been and always will be a sovereign and independent state. This is a given. It will either be that, or will simply cease to exist. We must clearly understand this. Without sovereignty, Russia cannot be a state. Some countries can do this, but not Russia.
Far from being a globalist, then, President Putin puts for the vision of the sovereign nation-state as the basic element of identity. The failing experiment of the European Union as such appears to have helped, but Russia was probably never interested in losing her national and cultural identity, and the President reaffirms this here.
Building relations with Russia means working together to find solutions to the most complex matters instead of trying to impose solutions. We make no secret of our foreign policy priorities. These include strengthening trust, countering global threats, promoting cooperation in the economy and trade, education, culture, science and technology, as well as facilitating people-to-people contact. These tenets underpin our work within the UN, the Commonwealth of Independent States, as well as within the Group of 20, BRICS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.
We believe in the importance of promoting closer cooperation within the Union State of Russia and Belarus, including close foreign policy and economic coordination. Together with our integration partners within the Eurasian Economic Union, we will continue creating common markets and outreach efforts. This includes implementing the decisions to coordinate the activities of the EAEU with China’s Belt and Road initiative on the way to a greater Eurasian partnership.
Russia’s equal and mutually beneficial relations with China currently serve as an important factor of stability in international affairs and in terms of Eurasian security, offering a model of productive economic cooperation. Russia attaches importance to realising the potential of the special privileged strategic partnership with India. We will continue to promote political dialogue and economic cooperation with Japan. Russia stands ready to work with Japan on finding mutually acceptable terms for signing a peace treaty. We intend to promote deeper ties with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
There is a great supply of rhetoric about this above paragraph’s thought. It is easy for writers with an opinion to place the actions of Russia and China in a context that is attractive to Western, and perhaps primarily American, mindsets – the notion that all the world is adversarial to each other or towards a “common enemy.” We will touch on this more shortly, but for now it is important to consider the President’s statements here on their own terms without reading some sort of “jab” into them. Here is the reason:
It makes no sense to dedicate one’s life as leader of one nation towards blaming and scapegoating anyone else, unless that leader wishes to avoid his or her own problems. While sometimes it is necessary to call a spade a spade if there is a bad actor somewhere else, the President of Russia appears to be very aware that this sort of tactic of creating an “enemy” elsewhere as an object to distract people from their own country’s problems is doomed to fail. To illustrate, in beginning of his State of the Nation speech he says this:
If someone prefers to work in the business as usual mode, without challenges, avoiding initiative or responsibility, they had better leave immediately. I already hear that some things are “impossible,” “too difficult,” “the standards are too high,” and “it will not work.” With such an attitude, you had better stay away.
Besides, you cannot fool the people. They are acutely aware of hypocrisy, lack of respect or any injustice. They have little interest in red tape and bureaucratic routine. It is important for people to see what is really being done and the impact it has on their lives and the lives of their families. And not sometime in the future, but now. We must not repeat the mistakes of the past decades and wait for communism to arrive. We have to change the situation for the better now.
We are going to reflect on this much more in Part III of this series, but this early statement’s importance cannot be underestimated. Together with the comment about relations with China, it shows that far from just trying to be spiteful to the West, President Putin is placing Russia first (doesn’t this sound familiar?) and as such, he is doing what he has to to help his country.
There is something in the American worldview and media that is also reflected in the West that seems incensed by the idea that Russia would try to take care of itself.
Most evident in the American expression of news is the attitude that unless the US benefits from it, another nation’s policy is by definition bad, and even unacceptable. But this attitude also requires that that country be destroyed and re-formed so that whatever it does is in America’s interests.
This is, of course, a wildly presumptuous and even arrogant way of looking at the world, yet it is also eminently applicable when any nation can be thus scapegoated for any reason. It also is an amplification of the notion we discussed earlier that all the nations are “adversaries” or even “enemies.” What President Putin says of his people is also ultimately true everywhere else, though it can take some time for the citizens to fully be awake and aware. This is the basis of the character of the present ideological struggle in the US between the Trump crowd and the hyper-liberal faction that is taking shape in the American Democrat Party.
Going back to President Putin’s speech, his foreign trade and commerce comments conclude:
We also hope that the European Union and the major European countries will finally take actual steps to put political and economic relations with Russia back on track. People in these countries are looking forward to cooperation with Russia, which includes corporations, as well as small and medium-sized enterprises, and European businesses in general. It goes without saying that this would serve our common interests.
One of the most significant areas that is included in this statement is the status of Russia as an energy provider for Europe. Russia has enormous oil and natural gas reserves, and its location in and next to Europe makes it ideally suited to be linked commercially very strongly to all the nations of Western Europe as an energy supplier.
This is not the only industry that is up for international commerce. The Russian company LEDEL is one of the premier producers of long-lasting LED lighting systems, achieving incredibly high-quality results in their manufacturing process while the country was under severe economic sanctions. Kaspersky Lab is one of the world’s most sophisticated computer and internet security companies. LADA is up and coming as a very good automobile manufacturer. As we will see in Part III, President Putin seeks to increase Russian manufacturing and technological progress and prowess.
Russia’s attitude towards trade with the rest of the world certainly includes the notion of competition, but its treatment of other countries is radically different.
It is said that the American sees others as adversaries, while the Russian views all men as brothers. This notion seems to be well-played out in American foreign policy. The US is alone in the world, alone at the top, and seems to see Russia and China as “existential threats” to the US. But this is not a view shared by either of these two powers, nor do either Russia or China seek to be top in the world.
The brotherhood of sovereign nation-states that President Trump talked about in his UN speech (we excerpt below) is very much the same attitude that President Putin expresses in his view of the world.
Does this mean that Trump is a “Putin Stooge”, or does it perhaps mean that the presently normative attitude of the American leadership is wrong?
Now, we know the reason the liberals and globalists hate both President Trump and President Putin.