Global developments are changing the world, and the former unipolar world, aimed at the benefit of the United States, is cracking. States are adjusting to the new realities, including the Ukrainian conflict and its possible consequences. In particular, legislative changes have affected the direct participant in the Ukrainian events – Russia, where a new Foreign Policy Concept was presented in March. The need to change the law was long overdue, but it was a special military operation that gave impetus to a thorough revision of the foreign policy doctrine, to sufficiently counteract the opponents.
There is a fundamental difference, both in terminology and in the more rigid positions of the Concept. First of all, Russia is defined not just as a local state, but as a “civilization”. From the principal definition of Russia’s status as a sovereign civilization comes the idea of Russia’s self-sufficiency.
The terms include the geopolitical terms “Eurasia” and “Euro-Pacific power,” while the global mission of Russia is indicated as the unification of the “Russian world” (a concept that goes far beyond “the population of the Russian Federation”). In many ways this resembles the latest trend of states that do not agree with the unification of the world and subordination to the NATO bloc, because it was in the interests of countries-civilizations (once, historically – large empires) to protect their people abroad (the same ethnicity, religion, citizenship, etc.). For example Türkiye, Hungary, China and many others are engaged in that anti-systemic way, among many others.
The new version of the Concept of Russia further notes that the country is one of the “sovereign centers of global development”. This concept aims to maintain multipolarity and the balance of power. In fact, the anti-systemic leaders of countries, as well as the majority in different nations, also pin their hopes on a multipolar world order that allows the most diverse peoples to flourish, develop and cooperate on an equal basis. For example, multipolarity is gaining popularity in the countries of Africa, which have experienced all shades of colonialism and neocolonialism of France and the United States, and are morally ready to break old ties and cooperate as equals with those who respect them. Thus, Russia in this case legally formalizes the global geopolitical trend, the request for a new world order, in which, due to geography and historical preconditions, Russian civilization is extended to part of Europe and the Pacific region. A more established term for such an approach is Eurasia.
Russia is no longer feeling the need to claim inclusion in the global West and in Europe. Therefore, it attacks Eurocentrism directly and harshly in its new foreign policy concept. Moscow rejects Western hegemony in clear and explicit terms and equates the Western-led globalization with a new round of imperialism and colonialism. The text asserts that the focus of mankind is steadily shifting to non-Western regions of the planet – Asia, Eurasia, Africa, and Latin America.
The Concept also outlines the image of opponents, which is unacceptable for the geopolitics of Moscow: We are talking about those who seek “global dominance” “neocolonialism” – of course, the Anglo-Saxon world (USA, UK), France and their allies, as well as international structures, which indulge the ambitions of these states. The concept notes the double standards of international policy of these countries: coercion and sanctions pressure, suppression of freedom of speech, blackmail, disinformation and conflicts.
The document also touches on ideology, as Moscow has clearly protested against the spread of “destructive neoliberal ideological attitudes” in the world, which are incompatible with values. Importantly, according to the text, Russia “does not consider itself an enemy of the West, is not isolated from it, and has no hostile intentions toward it”. What is meant is that if it were not for the West’s ambitions near Russia’s borders and its attempts to impose an alien ideology on its citizens, Moscow would act as peacefully as possible. In this connection, the Concept also mentions the possibility of using military force: “In response to unfriendly actions by the West, Russia intends to defend its right to exist and to develop freely by all available means. This is not alien to Türkiye, which is regularly provoked in the Mediterranean, Syria and other regions, or China, which is constantly being tested by the issue of Taiwan”.
The new approach in foreign policy also dictates a different approach to international platforms that hit countries’ economies and social structure, such as the World Bank and the IMF. Russia is ready to offer the world alternative pragmatic alliances, including the EAEU, SCO, BRICS and others that include dialogue on different continents.
Russian President Vladimir Putin confirmed this when he accepted letters of credence from 17 newly appointed ambassadors of foreign states on 5 April:
“I would like to emphasize that Russia is open to constructive partnership with all countries without exception. We do not intend to isolate ourselves nor do we have any prejudiced or hostile intentions towards anybody and expect that our partners will adhere to the principles of equality and mutual consideration of interests in their relations with Russia”.
It is important to note that Russia does not really claim to be isolated from the world: On the contrary, the country opts for full communication and cooperation, but on different grounds. In particular, on environmental issues, space exploration, economic solutions, military cooperation, and humanitarian initiatives.
Thus, Russia did not just change the documentation, but made a global statement that it is ready to cooperate with everyone who does not impose domination, hegemony and economic enslavement, but acts on the basis of geopolitical equality and mutual respect.
The new version of the foreign policy concept is a fundamental act in the process of decolonizing Russia itself, freeing it from external control.