The development of Russia’s relations with the non-Western world is likely to take into account several interrelated tasks. The first task is the formation of centres of power which are relatively independent from the United States and its allies, with a high degree of political agency. These centres of power do not have to be consolidated into a single political project. There may be some contradictions between them. However, their independence in making fundamental decisions in the field of their security and development is the essential feature that unites such centres of power. Russia itself is unlikely to be able to cement and consolidate them alone. However, it exemplifies the very possibility of challenging the political West on fundamental issues. Not everyone is ready to follow the same path, but the very fact of its presence is an event which has a global dimension. While avoiding imposing ideological postulates regarding the world, Russia has nevertheless managed to create a normatively significant precedent. That is why the suppression of the “Russian rebellion” is a matter of principle for the West.
The third task is to ensure security vis-à-vis the West. The conflict with the West has drastically undermined Russia’s security. On Russia’s Western borders, we are dealing with a powerful, technologically advanced and consolidated bloc. Its military strength will grow and it will be positioned to oppose Russia. The military situation in Ukraine will determine the further dynamics of threats. The prospect of an open military clash between Russia and NATO is becoming quite real. Preventing such a scenario has already become a key military-political priority, in which the military rather than the diplomatic factors play the leading role. The prerequisites for a diplomatic solution to the conflict in Ukraine are not yet visible. If we assume a peace agreement or a ceasefire agreement, then the problem of the stability of such an agreement will arise. Our disastrous experience with Minsk-2 has shown that it can become a cover for the next phase of the conflict, as some European leaders have directly confirmed.
In our relations with the “world majority” there is no similar cultural commonality. However, this does not prevent the establishment of pragmatic relations. Does it mean that the cultural distance will remain significant forever? No. It will be necessary to build up our cultural competencies in working with a wide variety of non-Western countries. The civilisational diversity is amazing here. Russia has unique schools of Sinology, Arabic studies, Indology and many other areas. Unfortunately, though, these institutional advantages are extremely limited when it comes to meeting the tasks of a full-fledged turn to the East. It is normal for us to speak European languages, we have absorbed European literature, and we more or less understand a person of European culture, with all the diversity of the West. At the same time, we know very little about the literature, culture and mentalities of countries which remain friendly. For a complete turnaround, we will need dozens of schools like the Institute of Asian and African Countries at Lomonosov Moscow State University, not to mention language schools. Without such competencies, working in the depths of Chinese, Indian and many other societies will be extremely difficult, if not impossible.
At the same time, we will have to take into account the fact that the countries of the “world majority” which are friendly to us have their own national interests. They are unlikely to sacrifice them simply for the sake of friendship with Russia. Every time, we will face a set of requirements and requests that will, ultimately, not be beneficial to Moscow. Many non-Western countries maintain close relations with the West. A considerable number of them still benefit from Western-centric globalisation, even if this gain is inertial in some cases. Moreover, many use modernising process according to the Western model, preserving their cultural identity, and, if possible, political sovereignty, but do not hesitate to use Western standards in the field of economics, production, management, education, science, technology, etc. When establishing and maintaining ties with friendly countries, Russia may well find itself in a situation where certain Western models will again come to Russia through the East, just as the ideas of Aristotle came to medieval Europe through Arab commentators.