July 13, 2021 Special Dispatch No. 9441

Former Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Kunadze: Russia Has Taken The Path To Pariahdom, And Has Revived The Cold War

July 13, 2021
Russia | Special Dispatch No. 9441

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who occupies the second highest slot on United Russia's list of candidates for the Duma elections has been concentrating his fire on "unpatriotic" Russian liberals.[1] He apparently believes that this is good politics. After the incident in the Black Sea when Russian planes fired warning shots at the British destroyer HMS "Defender", Lavrov returned to the attack."'I read the comments, when a British warship invaded our territorial waters, with great amazement. Some liberal critics of the authorities began saying: “Why did they have to expel it? Well, it would have passed by Crimea, and what would have happened? And so the relationship is already at bottom, and you are burying it even deeper.'  That is, swallow a direct insult, spit on the free expression of the Crimean people,” said Lavrov during a speech at the Far Eastern Federal University.[2]

Perhaps former deputy foreign minister Georgy Kunadze, a scholar a the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, was one of the liberals that Lavrov was referring to. A lengthy essay by Kunadze appeared in Novaya Gazeta, where Kunadze attacked the Putin-Lavrov foreign policy that had made Russia into a pariah and had consolidated Western opinion against Russia. None of Russia's "achievements", such as annexing Crimea and encouraging the secession of breakaway regions in Georgia and Ukraine were lasting achievements, and came with a huge price tag. Regarding an alliance with China as a panacea was also a "fairy tale".

Kunadze's essay follows below:[3]

Georgy Kunadze (Source:

"Twenty-odd years ago, when Russia’s legendary rise from its knees had begun, the country didn’t hesitate to choose the US as its role model. It was a logical decision to a certain extent, to what other state a huge country, which measures its greatness in missiles and warheads, could it look up to? However, in other regards (from the government system to housing, roads, and citizens’ income) Russia should be compared to countries that I won’t name, because I don’t want to offend my compatriots.

"Be that as it may, today, when the entire civilized world is turned against a “guilty without fault” Russia [the author refers to dramatic eponymous play by A. Ostrovsky], it continues to devoutly believe in the right of the strongest to exist without regard to international and national laws, morality, ethics, and other old-fashioned nonsense. Russia is still a long way off from George Orwell’s dystopia, but is within a whisker of the unsung caricature Moscorep state, created by Vladimir Voinovich. [the author refers to “Moscow 2042” novel by Vladimir Voinovich]

"The Era Of A Managerial Consciousness Half-Life

"Under such tragicomic circumstances, Russia’s foreign policy has basically become a hostage to its archaic fantasies and complexes. Behold the entire package!

"The delusions of grandeur, which motivate viewing the country’s nuclear missile capabilities as the trump card in current politics, and creates the simple message conveyed to the entire world, 'Do as we say, or we will wipe you off the face of the earth,' says Russia, savoring the sound of its new weapons.

"There is also a persecution complex, which makes Russia:

  • "Fear every shadow, calculate (as in good old days) the flight times of enemy missiles and to believe that the adversary (if he is able to achieve even minimal or just situational [military] superiority over Russia) will immediately launch an attack;

  • "Believe that Russia’s external and internal adversaries have long been in cahoots trying to destroy country’s unique 'sobornost' [the Russian people's spiritual community] and no less unique statehood, by trying to bring to power atheists, homosexuals, cosmopolitans, and other 'scum'.

  • "Suspect those Russian citizens, who doubt the wisdom of Russia's policy, of treason. It seems that soon an unenthusiastic attitude towards the words and deeds of the state’s top leadership will be qualified as grave 'thought felony' in Russia.

"The treasury of Russian strategic thoughts also harbors an inferiority complex that generates fear of the collective West, which might:

  • "Do some nasty thing for the Kremlin, for instance the West may invent some sort of psychic technology to suppress the will of our leaders and instill them with harmful thoughts and wrong decisions;

  • "Make them say the despised name of the “Berlin patient” [i.e. Navalny], which is even worse. (According to a source, the US National Science Foundation believes psychics to be a pseudoscience. Well, no doubt they just covering their tracks);

  • "Completely withdraw from the fossil fuels as energy source. What will Russia do then? Where do you get money for new palaces and missiles?

"All is not well with the current Russia’s aspirations as well. For example, it would like to stake out a sphere of influence including the former Soviet republics (according to Voinovich’s classification, they comprise a 'filial ring of hostility') and the former USSR satellites in Europe (the “fraternal ring of hostility”) e. However it’s rather difficult to realize this cherished dream, because all the 'fraternal ring' states have joined NATO, i.e. they have left Russia’s sphere of influence irrevocably. As for the countries of the 'filial' ring,” there is constant unhealthy ferment.

"For two decades the 'Bandera commotion' is going on in Ukraine, which supposed to be the same [country] as Russia; the dictator’s regime in Belarus, which is also supposed to be Russia, is at death's door. The distinctive states of Middle Asia (nowadays it’s the Central Asia region) are secretly searching for a counterweight to Russian influence in the East and in the West. The countries of the former Transcaucasia (nowadays it’s the South Caucasus region) show a different picture. They constitute a typical 'adversary alliance' of independent states [a play on words resulting in the antithesis to the Russian dominated CIS], in which each of the members has its own quirks.

"Overall, the immunizations of Moldova and Georgia [where Russia encouraged breakaway regions] didn’t bring Russia closer to reintegrating the states of the former Soviet empire.

"Russia had to deal seriously with Ukraine, without which (as we know) there could be no empire. But things didn’t go so well there either. The annexation of Crimea absolutely destroyed Russia’s international reputation to sub-zero importance and the peninsula itself turned into a suitcase without a handle for the Russian state (it suffers from droughts, floods and enormous corruption). Donbass is basically a sort of bandit Makhnovia[4], and they all need to be fed.

"Lonely State

"All the aforementioned is just a short story. However, the following text is far from a tale, but the harsh truth of a superpower's existence when it that has become the world’s pariah.

"It all started out well.

"The last (chronologically speaking) Soviet leadership managed to overcome the deep systemic estrangement in relations with the collective West. Some will unfailingly note that the new Soviet policy was partly dictated by the irresistible force of circumstances, i.e. the USSR's deep internal problems and its resounding defeat in competition with the Western opponents. Well, they will be right. The postwar Japanese revival followed the same paradigm, while Germany attempted a similar path even twice (catastrophically incompetently the first time around and quite successfully - the second time).

"However, there are no further analogies.

"The unique ambiguity of Russia’s predicament was that as the successor of the USSR, on the one hand, it still perceived itself as a victor in World War II (along with the appropriate international status, self-esteem, and ambitions), while, on the other hand, it was by all accounts bankrupt, which was extremely burdensome.

"Considering such, to put it mildly, conflicting circumstances, Russia was immediately gripped by a severe case of 'Weimar syndrome.' Even today, it feeds a thirst for compensation [to amend] for real and imagined humiliations in the early years of democracy. It should be added to the aforesaid, that the current Russian authorities, having eliminated democracy in Russia, cynically use such public sentiments to justify virtually all their actions in Russia and abroad.

"In 2000s a classic case of 'Dutch disease' compounded the list of afflictions, from which Russia suffered. The 'affliction' provided for a rapid growth of budget income from easily earned 'oil and gas' money, while the non-resource sectors of the economy were stagnating. The clever Russian authorities had declared Russia an energy superpower, with the intention of turning its inexhaustible mineral deposits into an instrument of foreign policy. They were even successful at first. But then, as it often the case with both leading and envious countries, Russia’s ambitions surpassed its capabilities.

"The rather inept efforts to restore the USSR's former imperial greatness have brought Russia to international isolation. Although it’s not as remote isolation as North Korea or Belarus, because it’s unwise to completely severe communication with an evil superpower that is openly proud of its ability to turn the rest of the world into “nuclear ash”[v] . However now, one communicates with Russia only as a matter of necessity, and only on the relevant topics.

"However, the unenviable stance of a pariah, in which Russian state has found itself, strangely, confers some advantages over normal countries that are forced to communicate with it.

"First, the bar of expectations for modern day Russia is so low that even negligible positive changes in its conduct, or just a hint at them, may prompt other Western 'partners' to consider some sort of 'reward.'

"This is an altogether familiar ploy successfully used by North Korea. Russia also knows how to use it. Let’s recall that after building up its troops near the Ukrainian border, Russia as a 'reward' for not using them, got an offer for a high-level summit from the US President. After that, the military contingent was partially withdrawn.

"Second, a pariah is allowed more than its partners to the negotiations. For instance, it may discuss or ignore any of the topics proposed; it may demand a ridiculously large reward for relatively small concessions; and (what is most important) the very fact that negotiations are conducted is always a success for a pariah, regardless of the actual outcome.

"The Conflict With Ukraine As A Mirror Of Russian Policy

"All of the aforementioned features of the pariah, in their concentrated and unequivocal form, were visible in Russia’s long lasting conflict with Ukraine.

"At the beginning of the acute phase of the conflict, the following agreements signed by Russia and Ukraine were in force: the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Partnership of 1999, the Border Treaty of 2004 [of 2003 I believe], Partition Treaty on the Status and Conditions of the Black Sea Fleet of 1999, which was extended until 2042 by the Kharkiv Pact of 2010. All these documents were signed by the supreme leaders of the two countries, duly ratified and, according to the norms of international law, were binding.

"When Russia annexed Crimea in 2014 and provoked a conflict in eastern Ukraine, it threw all these documents down the gutter, and since that momen,t categorically refused to discuss the obvious (for everyone except Russia) facts of their violation. This is quite understandable, because Russia has no valid arguments against such accusations.

"Instead, Russia insists that Ukraine abide by the so-called “Minsk agreements,” signed in February of 2015 by representatives of Russia, Ukraine, OSCE, and by the puppet “leaders” of the Donetsk separatists not specifying in the latter case on behalf of whom they act. As known, the Minsk agreements, which were drawn up ad hoc, were not ratified, thus their legal status is not entirely clear.

"However. it’s well known that the Ukrainian representative signed the Minsk agreements under the threat of their troops’ annihilation. The Ukrainian military was encircled near the city of Debaltseve by well-armed troops, in the guise of local rebels.

"Therefore, the official rationale about the binding force of the Minsk agreements for Ukraine isn’t entirely convincing. It only reinforces distrust of all Russia’s actions and statements. To quote a satirist, 'they start to think bad things from the start, instead of figuring the situation out.' This sentence perfectly reflects how our foreign policy is perceived in the modern world.

"In The Streetfighter's Lingo

"What is Russia not suspected of! [It is suspected of] cyber-attacks, contract murders, drug trafficking, support of “cannibalistic” regimes, systemic violations of human rights, hate speech, corruption... Furthermore. It doesn’t matter whether such accusations are fact or fiction. The reputation, which Russia has been persistently earning for so long, does its job.

What one can do in such circumstances? Deny everything, be rude and make jokes.

  • "What cyber-attacks, what murders and poisonings? Go try and prove it. We haven’t done anything like that before, we do things honestly and honorably,” states Russia, while laughing uncomfortably in the face of its enemies.

  • "'What Malaysian “Boeing'? The one that crashed in Donbass because it was heavier than air? When was that!” Russia clowns around, but adds with a stern face, 'your investigations do not apply to us.'

  • ";And stop bothering us with that guy. What’s his last name? Ovalny? [meaning Navalny]', jokes Russia. 'Why do your care about this petty little crook? He flew abroad for rest and treatment, but failed to register [at the police]. You know, he had a suspended sentence hanging over him. He returned and received it. But don’t meddle in our internal affairs. We do not have to answer to you. So go to hell. By the way, what is the OSCE?'

"In short, by easily calling to mind the language and style of a street fighter, Russian foreign policy has become closer to the people’s favorite “zombie TV,” but distanced itself from civilization even stylistically.

"The bosses and the masses at large (…) love it, but polished foreigners, who can't even poison a person without apologizing, only shake their heads [in disapproval], or maybe they got some water in their ears? That’s their problem, though.

"The Kremlin’s Zeitgeist

It hurts that the rarest examples of Russia’s sane politics are drowned in its drunken sprees. Russia’s actions during the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh became such an example. As known, this conflict has no solution and is difficult to manage. There are few who were willing to undertake such a hopeless task. But Russia undertook it and, for better or for worse, achieved some results: the conflict was stopped, the security of the Armenian residents of Nagorno-Karabakh was achieved and a corridor linking the region to Armenia was protected; the lands annexed by Armenia (with no Armenian population) were returned to Azerbaijan; the Russian peacekeepers (with the consent of the parties) serve as a guarantors to all concluded agreements.

"I intentionally wrote Russian peacekeepers without quotation marks. The latter are required when Russian “peacekeepers” are helping one of the sides to the conflict. However, such a local success for Russia, probably, won’t greatly affect the country’s relations with Western democracies.

"These countries [Western democracies], which, to a greater extent, are beyond our comprehension, do not take an identical stance towards Russia. Some of them have an openly negative attitude, while others treat it partially positively and with hope for the future. According to a tradition dating back to early Soviet times, our policy has always tried to benefit from disagreements between Western countries regarding USSR relations.

"With the advent of the atomic age, the main idea of this policy was described by a sly thesis that the first and main victim of the US - USSR conflict would be Western Europe (which is around the corner for Soviet missiles). This thesis was forgotten during the early years of Russian democracy, but was cynically revived after the defeat of democratic Russian state. The Soviet leadership couldn’t even dream of such a wide use of this thesis.

"The Russian president’s article published in the German weekly Die Zeit newspaper has become the latest example of Russia’s strategy to divide the collective West. The article, however, has little truth in it.

"For example, how worthy are the allegations about an 'anti-constitutional armed coup in Ukraine,' which was allegedly 'orchestrated by the US and supported limply by the European countries!' How do these assertions tie in to the enlargement of NATO, 'a relic of the Cold War?'

"The mass protests in Kiev, better known as 'Euromaidan,' came in response to the Yanukovych government’s decision (which was take under immense Russian pressure) to practically terminate the preparation of the European Union - Ukraine Association Agreement. Maybe the European Union is already a NATO member? Who in fact orchestrated Crimea’s “secession from Ukraine?” It was Putin himself, who proudly recalled his decision 'to initiate the operation for restoring Crimea to Russia?”

"I can’t remember what came first: the publication of Putin’s article or Merkel’s proposal to resume the EU-Russia summits suspended in 2014. Be that as it may, the obvious chronological proximity of these two events evidences to the fact that they were the product of coordinated efforts between Russia and Germany and France, which joined them. The EU’s decision to resume summits with Russia would’ve been a great gift to the Kremlin. But it didn’t happen. The EU is a democratic organization that is unafraid of opposing mighty Germany.

"However, one shouldn’t exaggerate the importance of these disagreements. The members of the collective West still view matters of principle in foreign policy, more or less identically. This should surprise no one. Having comprehensively revived the philosophy and practice of the Cold War, Russia, with its own hands, is practically encouraging their consolidation. Back in the old days, such consolidation was called 'Cold War discipline.' Today it doesn’t yet have a name, but the essential idea didn’t change. Cold War 2.0 is already gaining impetus. Sooner or later, the ideological successors of George Kennan will justify the need for a new policy of Russia’s containment, and organizations like CoCom [to control exports to Russia] will be created… And everything will repeat itself again from the beginning.

"However, the global nuclear war, which will be suicidal for all its participants, is unlikely. This conclusion was confirmed by Putin when he spoke about the HMS Defender that allegedly 'invaded Russia’s territorial waters' near Crimea.

In fact the British didn’t 'invade' anything: the HMS Defender, which briefly entered Russian territorial waters, merely exercised its right of passage, provided by the Article 12 of the Federal Law 'On Inland Sea Waters, Territorial Sea and Contiguous Zone of the Russian Federation.' Foreign ships and warships of any country have such a right in the territorial sea of any state.

"However, Putin wouldn’t be himself if he didn’t add some sensation to his story. How should his words that 'there would have been no war even if Russia had sunk the HMS Defender' be treated?

"The newest air-defense destroyer, comparable in combat power and [water] displacement to the flagship of the Black Sea Fleet, the cruiser “Moskva”  is not some Ukrainian gunboats, with which Russia 'successfully' fought a few years back. A hypothetical attack on a British warship could’ve had disastrous consequences for Russia military and politics-wise.

HMS "Defender" (Source:

"The world would be a bit closer to a major conflict. However, it wouldn’t have happened anyways. But a 'struggle for peace' could’ve begun, that would have left the world completely demolished. The chances for Russia to emerge victorious in this 'struggle for peace' would have been even less than that of the Soviet Union. But don’t tell me fairy tales about our coming alliance with China as a cure for all our problems."


[1] See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 9427, Russian FM Lavrov: 500 Years Of Western Dominance Are ‘Coming To A Close’, July 2, 2021.


[3], June 8, 2021.

[4], July 3, 2021.

[5] A term referring to the area controlled by the peasant anarchist leader Nestor Makhno in Ukraine during the Russian Civil War.

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