The leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa met in Durban last week for the 5th BRICS Summit, where the group appeared to make some progress on the idea of a BRICS development bank. In today’s Policy Alert, we examine and contrast Russian and Chinese optimism in BRICS, with the much more cautious and cynical views from India and South Korea.
Commentary in Russia uniformly praised the BRICS countries for establishing a “polycentric system of international relations,” and noted the importance of Russia-China relations within the BRICS framework.
- “BRICS has transformed itself from a political idea into a tangible symbol of a multipolar world,” said Vadim Lukov, the Russian foreign ministry’s special envoy to BRICS. Lukov also highlighted the importance of Russia-China relations within the BRICS. “China’s approach to BRICS is characterized by a deep understanding of the significance of creating a new multi-polar international system. Russia-China cooperation within BRICS is one of the important engines of its development.”
- The absence of consensus on a BRICS development bank, initiated during the previous summit in India, elicited mixed views from Russian experts:
- Leonid Gusev, expert at Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO), predicted that making progress on the bank is unlikely, noting that the BRICS economies, particularly China and India, are too closely integrated with the American market for significant changes to take place.
- Sergei Katyrin, chairman of Russia’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry, was more optimistic, stating that “while no ultimate decisions have been made on the bank’s quantitative parameters, its authorized capital, its contributors and the volume of contributions…I think this project will eventually take shape.”
Most Indian views on the BRICS were either skeptical that the bloc can have any real impact, or were wary of China dominating a BRICS bank in the future. (more…)Continue Reading →
Vladislave Inozemtsev, a participant in our recent “Russia as a Global Power” conference recently wrote in The Moscow Times:
Although the “reset” in U.S.-Russian relations has been sapped dry, Moscow and Washington can still find ways to cooperate on combating global terrorism, arms control and the resolution of regional conflicts. The time has come to set the agenda for such talks. Considering, however, how deeply President Vladimir Putin has taken offense with Washington over the U.S. Magnitsky Act, it would be unrealistic to expect constructive proposals from Russia anytime soon. That means the initiative should come from the U.S. side. The U.S. should take the first step because Russia is not an enemy or even a threat.
Russia wants to build a global financial center in Moscow, but it turns out that even tiny Cyprus is more of a financial center for Russian businesses and depositors than Moscow. Russia believes that it will supply Europe with oil and gas forever, but the first wave of European Union states will largely switch to buying shale oil and gas from the U.S. or switch to renewable and alternative sources of energy by 2025.
The main problem that the West currently faces with regard to Russia is not its strength, but its instability. Russia’s position today is closer to that of the Soviet Union of 1988 than 1962. Given this situation, the new U.S. strategy toward Russia could be based on three fundamental policies…
The passage of a resolution by the U.N. Security Council on Jan. 22 condemning North Korea’s missile launch of Dec. 12, 2012, and expanding sanctions against the country, has brought about a defiant and ferocious response from Pyongyang.
North Korea issued a series of pronouncements declaring the nullification of the Sept. 19, 2005, agreement on denuclearization, the end of further talks on denuclearization including the six-party talks, and vowing to strengthen its nuclear and missile capabilities by continuing rocket launching and nuclear testing, which North Korea declared explicitly as targeted against the United States.
That North Korea would respond with fury to a U.N. resolution was anticipated, but the barrage of intensified anti-American rhetoric and the blunt declaration to continue the quest for nuclear weapons with ICBM capabilities, especially at this juncture in time, probably came as a surprise to many analysts.
Given North Korea’s explicit renunciation of the agreement on denuclearization, it would be impossible for the United States to entertain any thought of altering the existing policy variously labeled “manage and contain” or “sanctions with limited dialogue” toward a policy of dialogue and engagement. For South Korea, despite President-elect Park Geun-hye’s professed willingness to resume talks with the North without preconditions and to improve the relations with North Korea through a confidence-building process, she will be constrained from pursuing a conciliatory policy of engagement.
It will be so especially since she has insisted she will not tolerate the North’s nuclear program and will deal sternly with North Korean provocations. Similarly for Japan, it is inconceivable for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to consider moderating his hard-line stance toward North Korea.
The impact of North Korea’s policy pronouncements on the policies of China and Russia will be no less significant.Continue Reading →
China, Russia and India abstained on UN Security Council Resolution No. 1973, which authorized a no-fly zone over Libya and the use of force to protect civilians. As military intervention in Libya enters its sixth day, what are the Chinese, Russian and Indian views and reactions?
Officially-sanctioned views, as reflected in the People’s Daily, lambast the military intervention in Libya and cast it as a Western initiative.
- “How humanitarian is Western intervention in Libya?” asks one op-ed. “This so-called ‘humanitarianism’ is actually just the first step toward overthrowing of another country’s political power.”
- They point to Libya’s oil resources as the underlying motive. “The military involvement of Western coalitions in the Middle East is closely associated with oil reserves and strategic interests. Iraq was invaded for oil. Now it is Libya.”
- It is noteworthy that the criticism is generally directed at the “West,” and not specifically at the United States, since “the U.S. withdrew to the second line this time.” The U.S. position is understood to be “a compromise between the realism of the secretary of defense and the idealism of the secretary of state.” (more…)
As part of an ongoing outreach to the policy and media communities, the Rising Powers Initiative held a briefing on March 2 to present expert analysis of domestic debates and recent policy developments in Russia, India and China. The event took place at the Elliot School of International Affairs, and was sponsored by the Carnegie Corporation.
To understand the foreign policy behaviors of major countries in Asia and Eurasia, the main approach of the Rising Powers Initiative has been to focus on the domestic debates taking place within these countries. These debates reflect a certain intellectual orientation in a country, or its “intellectual DNA,” which is then reflected in that country’s foreign policy, explained Henry R. Nau, who moderated the panel as co-director of the Rising Powers Initiative and Professor of Political Science and International Affairs at The George Washington University.
Moreover, domestic debates matter most when the external geopolitical environment is relatively stable, said Nau. For the past twenty years, international relations have been characterized by the unipolarity of the United States, and any shift in the international order is gradual. This brings into focus the domestic interpretations of such shifts, and how those interpretations shape the overall direction of a country’s foreign policy.
In Russia, the predominant intellectual orientation has seen a “a lot of volatility” in the past twenty years, said Andrew Kuchins, Director and Senior Fellow of the Russia and Eurasia Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Beginning with the short-lived “Liberal Westernizers” of 1991-92, Russia’s political landscape then shifted to “Great Power Balancers / Realists” in the 1990s and early 2000s, who were disappointed in the West and believed in a more balanced, multi-vector foreign policy. (more…)Continue Reading →