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November 14, 2019 No.
8365

Russia This Week – Focus On Multilateralism And Russia's Bilateral Relations – November 14, 2019

Russia This Week is a weekly review by the MEMRI Russian Media Studies Project, covering the latest Russia-related news and analysis from media in Russia, the Caucasus, Central Asia, and Eastern Europe.

Photo Of The Week


Vladimir Putin arrived in Brasilia to take part in the BRICS Summit. (Source: Kremlin.ru, November 13, 2019)

In The News:

  • BRICS Summit
  • Russia-Latin America Relations
  • Senator Pushkov Reacts To Macron's Interview With The Economist
  • Russian FM Lavrov’s Visit To France
  • Crimea
  • Russian Media
  • Demography
  • Strange But True
  • News In Brief: Religion; Russia In Syria; Russia-Armenia Relations;

BRICS Summit


Vladimir Putin arrived in Brasilia to take part in the BRICS Summit. (Source: Kremlin.ru, November 13, 2019)

Russian FM Lavrov: Multipolarity Is The Only Order Attuned To Present-Day Realities

Ahead of the BRICS Summit, which is taking place in Brazil, on November 13–14, 2019, Russian FM Sergey Lavrov wrote an article detailing Russia's vision of the BRICS strategic partnership.

Lavrov wrote:

"… Today, alignment of efforts of our countries is particularly important. The global politics continues to reel. Various regions of the planet still retain significant conflict potential. The arms control architecture is deliberately undermined – the US unilateral withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty was a rather dangerous step. Structural imbalances in the world economy are yet to be overcome. A serious threat to global economic growth is posed by such unfair competition practices as unilateral economic sanctions, trade wars and flagrant abuse of the US dollar status as the world reserve currency. The international community is yet to find effective responses to a whole number of critical challenges of our time – from terrorism to climate change.

"It got to the situation when there are attempts to replace the international legal system, established after the Second World War with the UN Charter remaining as its main source, with the so-called 'rules-based order', where 'rules' being invented in secret, in 'small groups', and then, depending upon a political situation, imposed on the whole world.

"Multipolarity is not a recipe for competition and chaos in international relations, as some of our critics say. On the contrary, this is the only order attuned to present-day realities, which should promote the comprehensive development of all States – both big and small – and enhanced mutually beneficial cooperation among us on the basis of shared interests.

"Russia, as other BRICS countries, rejects diktat and pressure, blackmail and threats, let alone the use of force without the UNSC decision. In contrast, it proposes to follow the path of a mutually respectful dialogue aimed to reach the consensus that takes into account interests of all actors in the inter-State relations. We are convinced that any agreements on most important issues on the global agenda should be reached with the widest and equal participation of all stakeholders and be based on universally recognized legal norms. The BRICS countries are firmly committed to democratization of international life and its development under the principles enshrined in the UN Charter and principles of respect for cultural and civilizational diversity of the world and the right of peoples to forge their destiny themselves…

"BRICS is becoming a magnet for many emerging economies. They are looking at us because the group protects values of multilateralism, supports a transparent, non-discriminatory, open, free and inclusive international trade, and rejects unilateral economic restrictions and protectionist measures in developing international economic ties. In their statement following the meeting on the margins of the G20 Summit in Osaka last June, the BRICS Leaders explicitly indicated their willingness to protect the pillars of the equitable multilateral trading system and the role of the WTO as its center, and to advocate the IMF reform…

"In 2020, Russia will take the helm of BRICS. We intend to ensure continuity and harmonious transition from the Brazil Chairmanship to the Russian one. We will continue the policy of progressive and comprehensive enhancement of the strategic partnership of the BRICS countries… I am confident that in the storming ocean of the world politics the BRICS 'ship' will steer a steady course and further contribute significantly to maintaining international stability and ensuring global economic growth. The Brasilia Summit is aimed to be another important milestone in pentalateral cooperation and on its way to new prospects.

"In conclusion, I would like to wish peace, health, wellbeing and all the best to the readers and to all nationals of the BRICS countries."

(Mid.ru, November 12, 2019)

Read More:

  • Meeting with Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi. Vladimir Putin met with Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the BRICS summit in Brasilia. (Kremlin.ru, November 13, 2019; read the full transcript)

Russia-Latin America Relations

Russian expert Nikita Isaev, head of the Institute of Contemporary Economics, wrote an article on Russia-Latin America Relations, stating that Russia does not lack of "imperialist" ambitions.

"Latin America is completely restless. The continent is seriously shaking – almost everywhere.

"In Chile, millions of citizens took to the streets after the transportation fare increase – two dozen people killed. The unrest led the President to urgently cancel the APEC summit and UN convention on Climate Change, which were originally scheduled in Chile.

"In Peru – there is dual authority and social unrest, following the constitutional crisis of the political system.

"In Argentina – the economic crisis, multiplied by tense presidential race.

"In Bolivia, the falsification of the presidential elections was declared and the inevitable upheaval..

"Ecuador is on the verge of civil war, because of the abolition of subsidies on fuel and food benefits.

"Venezuela a relative calm has settled in after the serious tremors, yet the country still resembles a powder keg.

"Uruguay is a potential arena for political battles: the results of the presidential and parliamentarian elections proved disappointing.

"Brazil and Columbia and other couple of countries are still holding. The question is what’s to come….

"The real 'Latin American Autumn is coming'. Yet, what one can expect from countries saturated with the 'liberation' ideas of Trotsky, Che Guevara, and Simon Bolivar?

"If we have an 'Arab Spring' in our backyard, which touched North of Africa and the Middle East, the US has inherited an entire continent flaming up in conflicts. Regardless of how strong American imperial ambitions are, I still seriously doubt that Washington fanned the fire in their backyard. The risks are too high.

"Yet, if the US has not done it, then Russia should take advantage of it: it’s about time to make friends with Latin American countries. Just as we previously made friends with Africa, and [by doing so] pushing aside the US and China. Well, why shouldn't we win over another continent? Surely, there is enough space there for a Russian presence.

"We may start for example with the 'Russia-Latin America' summit and invite all heads of states. And, if in certain countries the opposition is strong, we may invite the [opposition representatives] along with the leaders. We may even invite Trump & Co. or anyone else involved [with the continent]. Then we’ll see what happens. Russia does not lack imperialist ambitions either."

(Kp.ru, October 30, 2019)

Senator Pushkov Reacts To Macron's Interview With The Economist

Senator Alexey Pushkov reacted to Emmanuel Macron's assessment that NATO was "brain dead".

"Macron delivered a harsh verdict on NATO – 'brain death.' While [NATO Secretary-General] Stoltenberg insists on 'firmness towards Russia', he has total discord in the organization surrounding Turkey's actions. Macron made it clear: Russia is not the main problem of NATO. True: this is a far-fetched."

(Twitter.com/Alexey_Pushkov, November 7, 2019)

"Macron calls on the countries of Europe to find a common language with Russia despite the position on the Baltic countries and Poland. This is a good idea. European policy regarding Moscow should stop being hostage to the Russophobic instincts of individual countries. It is inappropriate for Paris to depend on Warsaw or Talinn."

(Twitter.com/Alexey_Pushkov, November 7, 2019)

"Macron looks to the future; Merkel clings to the past. Macron thinks of tomorrow's Europe, Merkel is closer to Europe of the previous day. Hence the differing approaches to Russia. Here is the distinction between the leaders of Europe's two pivotal countries. But to preserve it [Europe] in its familiar appearance will no longer succeed."

(Twitter.com/Alexey_Pushkov, November 8, 2019)

Read More:

  • Macron meets with Russia’s Kaspersky Lab head. (Tass.com, November 13, 2019; read the full article)
  • "It is a far more analytical approach of the kind that the Russian side, including the Russian president, finds impressive. He appreciates his contacts with the French president and the discussions on the problems of bilateral relations and regional issues, which regularly take place between the two heads of state," Peskov said when asked about Macron’s vision of the likely development scenarios for Russia. "Of course, the scenario of our development is the one chosen by the president to whom our people in the elections delegated the right to choose this scenario," Peskov said. (Tass.com, November 8, 2019; read the full article)

Russian FM Lavrov’s Visit To France

Lavrov: I Call For A Debate During Which It Will Be Recognized That The 'End Of History' Did Not Take Place


(Source: Mid.ru)

On November 11-12, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov made a working visit to France, during which he attended the 2nd Paris Peace Forum and spoke at the Masterclass working session.

Lavrov told the forum:

"Of course, the world is changing. These changes are going take a long period of time. The essence of this change is the emergence of a multipolar world order. Today multilateralism is mentioned as a slogan. We believe that regardless of the terminology you use, be it a polycentric world, a multipolar world or a multilateral world, the essence is the same. No one, no single country, no group of countries, like what we call the 'historical West,' can rule the world in this situation alone. New centers of economic growth, financial power and political influence are emerging right before our very eyes. China, India, Brazil, other Latin American countries, African countries are rising, and very soon, from a historical perspective, they will certainly demand to have more say in the world affairs.

"It is for this reason that the key issues on the international agenda are no longer discussed at the G7. Nine years ago the G20 was reinvigorated to give more room to the countries from other regions, other than the EU and the United States. This is a very healthy trend, because the more powerhouses there are, the more sustainable the international situation will be.

"Of course, our Western friends are not happy, because for more than five centuries they dominated politics, economics, culture and civilization on this planet. They try to put a brake on these objective processes, and try to impede this objective reality from materializing. One of the manifestations of this position was the invention of a new concept. Instead of referring, as we have been doing for years, to international law, they call on everybody to respect a rules-based world order. What does this mean? When it is in the interests of the West, they for example declare that the right of the people to self-determination is sacrosanct, but when it does not fit their interests, they declare this right to be illegitimate. Compare Kosovo and Crimea: a referendum was held in Crimea, and there was no referendum in Kosovo. Still, Kosovo was immediately recognized as an independent state by most of the Western countries…

"Our point is that we have to really accept the reality. We cannot ignore the interests of any group of countries, including the Western countries. But the West should stop trying to present itself as a final judge and prosecutor. And I think a very healthy discussion should be held and supported in the G20 format, where the G7 and BRICS are represented, as well as other developing regions that are not party to the BRICS structure. It is a very representative group of countries. And I believe it is not by chance that G20, which was launched to deal with key financial and economic issues, is increasingly addressing the political agenda of the international community.

"In a sense, this is to compensate for the lack of progress towards the UN Security Council reform. The countries that want to be heard in the global political discussions believe that the G20 provides a platform where this could be done. But this does not mean that we have to forget about the UN Security Council reform. The key deficiency of the UN Security Council is under-representation of the developing countries. It is only if we increase the representation of Asia, Latin America and Africa that we can resolve this problem. The higher representation of the West is not going to help or bring any added value. I would like to draw your attention to the fact that in any configuration of the UN Security Council, the West has at least one third of the seats and sometimes more.

"So I call for a debate during which it will be recognized that 'end of history' that was proclaimed with triumph after the demise of the Soviet Union did not take place, history is alive and well, and the eternal domination of the West predicted by Francis Fukuyama did not materialize. The recognition of this reality is manifest in quite a number of analytical pieces, as well as in the recent statements by President of France Emmanuel Macron and in his interviews. So let us discuss where we are headed."

(Mid.ru, November 12, 2019)

During the Q&As, Lavrov said:

Q: "If I were to summarize your statement, would I be right in saying the West is pretty much to be blamed for everything?"

Lavrov: "No, not for everything. Just for its own mistakes."

Q: "We talked a lot about the United States today. The US presidential elections are coming up in 2020. How is Russia getting ready for that?"

Lavrov: "We will resolve this problem, don’t worry."

(Mid.ru, November 12, 2019)

Crimea

To cement its hold on Crimea Russia is instituting rail service between Moscow and St. Petersburg and the cities of Sevastopol and Simferopol beginning with the end of December. The trains will travel along the newly completed bridge linking the peninsula to the Russian mainland. The St. Petersburg-Sevastopol route will take 43.5 hours to cover 2,741 kilometers.

(Ria.ru, November 8, 2019)

Read More:

  • Cathedral mosque to open in Crimea in summer 2020. Russian President Vladimir Putin said at a meeting with the public in Simferopol in March 2019 he had invited Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to the opening ceremony of the mosque in Crimea. (Interfax-religion.com, November 13, 2019; read the full article)

Russian Media

Russian investigators have prepared documents for Interpol to secure the arrest and seizure of Rosbalt journalist Aleksandr Shvarev accused of defaming and extorting the Uzbek-born oligarch Alisher Usmanov. Shvarev is undergoing Medical treatment in Latvia and Russia is demanding his extradition. Shvarev called the arrest far-fetched and made to order.

(Interfax.ru, November 8, 2019)

Rosbalt's editor-in-chief announced that the editorial board would continue to support its journalist counting on the fact that there was no violation of the criminal code by the journalist or an obstruction to freedom of speech affirmed in the Russian constitution and the violation of the civil right to obtain and spread information important to state and society.

(Rosbalt.ru, November 8, 2019)

Demography

Russia's Accounts Chamber somberly predicted that by 2024 Russia would suffer a colossal loss of population. In September the population total declined by 52.5 thousand. In January-August of 2019 the population loss was 219.2 thousand people that was almost equal to the population loss for the entire 2018.

The Accounts Chamber warned that the current population loss that was accelerating for a fourth successive year "create actual risks for the attainment of national goals". It was Putin who in his May 2018 decree called for safeguarding "the sustainable national growth of Russia's population."

According to the demographer Yuri Krupnov the government measures, via which the government hoped to raise population growth, were not working and cannot work to provide the fantastic result in Putin's decree.

Maybe mused Krupnov with black humor they should put Russian women in an incubator or assign each young Russian woman two national guardsmen to give birth as much as possible. Krupnov warned that the problem would aggravate as there were fewer women born in the harsh 1990s.

(Mk.ru, November 7, 2019)

Strange But True

A foreigner who hailed a taxi in Moscow was asked to pay a fare of 41,000 rubles (643 USD) although the passenger's destination was also within the city limits. The press service of the Moscow police confirmed the incident but did not divulge the nationality of the victim. Criminal proceedings for the fraud are being contemplated.

(Ria.ru, November 7, 2019)

News in Brief

Religion

  • Patriarch Kirill to cease liturgical commemoration of Patriarch of Alexandria - Moscow Patriarchate spokesman. (Interfax-religion.com, November 8, 2019; read the full article)

Russia In Syria

  • Russia-Turkey Joint Military Patrol Pelted with Stones in Syria. (VOA News, November 6, 2019; watch the video)

Russia-Armenia Relations

  • Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to questions from Diplomatic School graduates and university students, Yerevan, November 11, 2019. Lavrov said: "… Foreign policy dialogue is an integral part of interaction between Russia and Armenia and its importance is increasing… Russia is a responsible guarantor of the emerging polycentric global architecture. We are promoting a constructive and unifying foreign policy agenda focused on preventing confrontation in the international arena and strengthening global and regional security…" (Mid.ru, November 11, 2019; read the full transcript)

Russia-Africa Relations

  • The Special Presidential Representative for the Middle East and Africa and Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov spoke at a briefing for the heads of foreign diplomatic missions accredited in Moscow dedicated to the Economic Forum and the Russia-Africa Summit in Sochi, Moscow, November 11, 2019. During the meeting, Bogdanov said: "We believe that this unprecedented event has become a turning point for the entire range of Russian-African ties to ascend to a qualitatively new level." (Mid.ru, November 11, 2019; read the full transcript)