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March 19, 2017 No.
6833

Russian FM Lavrov: 'The World Is... Becoming Post-Western... It Is Time To Get Used To The Multi-Polarity Of The World'

With the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia found itself in need of both a new identity and a new ideology. The end of the Soviet Union marked the victory of liberalism and also a U.S. dominated unipolar world order. Today, Russia is attempting to craft a new ideology that strives for a multipolar world and providing an alternative to liberalism. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov appears to be one of the chief collaborators in building this ideology, as in every speech that he makes he lays the basis for the core concepts underpinning Russia's dialectical disputes with the West. Lavrov's train of thought has much in common with the pro-Kremlin philosopher Alexander Dugin, who rejects a Western liberalism that denies Russia any space in the "brave new world of world globalism, post-modernity and post-liberalism."[1]

The following is an analysis of Lavrov's responses to the media at a joint press conference with German Vice Chancellor Minister for Foreign Affairs Sigmar Gabriel, as well as excerpts from Lavrov's responses:[2]

Fukuyama's 'End Of History' Failed To Materialize

On March 9, 2017, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov responded questions from the media at a joint press conference following a meeting with Germany's Vice Chancellor and Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs Sigmar Gabriel. During the press conference, Lavrov stressed that Russia is interested in a pragmatic relation with West ("finding a balance of interests"), rather than "joining the ranks" of its "Western colleagues" from "behind."[3]

He then mentioned that the "end of history" as foretold by Francis Fukuyama failed to materialize. This is a reference to Fukuyama's book "The End of History And The Last Man," published in 1992, following the Soviet Union's collapse. As explained in in the Moscow-based Katehon think tank website:[4] "In his acclaimed work The End of History, Fukuyama put forth the thesis that the conflict between two ideologies, liberal democracy and communism that lay at the heart of the Cold War, had been completely resolved. Communism was defeated in this confrontation, which contributed to the emergence of new prospects for the triumph of democratic principles around the world. Fukuyama comes to the conclusion that liberalism and liberal institutions such as the rule of law, representative democracy, and the market economy, have acquired universal significance. The author theoretically expresses and politically demonstrates confidence in the future after the end of the Cold War. Analyzing the reform process in the Soviet Union and People's Republic of China, the changes in these countries' intellectual climate, and noting shifts in other regions, Fukuyama concluded that these changes underway are not only the end of the Cold War or the end of any post-war period, but the end of history as such. Fukuyama translates the 'end of history' as the 'end of the ideological evolution of mankind and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government.' According to Fukuyama's theory, non-Western societies are merely a projection of Western values. In The End of History, emphasis is put on the exhaustion of alternatives to the West. In the author's opinion, the West is superior to all others in authority and morality. Therefore, Western values are subject to global dissemination irrespective of whether they are welcomed by other actors in the international system or not."[5]

The opinion that the "end of history" failed to materialize is shared by pro-Kremlin philosopher Alexander Dugin, who stresses that "liberalism is feeding us and we're sick of this", and concludes that a Fourth Political Theory is needed (the first political theory is liberalism the 20th century victor over the second political theory– communism, and the third political theory – fascism). According to Dugin, people have begun to rebel against liberalism and globalization (a "consequence or a process" of liberalism), as exemplified by the victory of U.S. President Donald Trump. Dugin argued: "People [in the U.S.] rejected Clinton's globalism and accepted Trump, without even knowing what he specifically stands for. He didn't say anything in particular, simply 'I am not liberalism, not globalism,' and the people said 'let him be president, tell us more.' This is a very serious factor. You can say yes, sign onto, and accept liberalism and this totalitarian, victorious, unipolar world. You can include yourself in it, be a part of this coding system. Or you can say no. And with this 'no' begins the Fourth Political Theory... If Clinton proposed to 'blame the Russians' for everything she didn't like, to blame Russia and Putin, then Trump proposed to change something. You don't like globalism? Clinton is globalism. Hedge your bets, vote. If we do not like where the world is heading, if we don't like liberalism, if we don't like globalization..."[6]

Lavrov did not mention a Fourth Political Theory explicitly, but he did outline the basis of a new ideology. He stressed that liberalism had failed and that as a consequence we are moving from a unipolar world towards a multipolar world. Lavrov said: "The world is objectively becoming 'post-Western'... It is time to get used to the multi-polarity of the world." These words echo Lavrov's speech at the 53rd Munich Security Conference. On that occasion, Lavrov stressed that "the post-Cold War order," i.e. liberalism, "has come to an end." He then refuted the allegations that Russia is attempting to undermine the so-called "liberal world order," but at the same time, he stressed that Russia rejects the 'liberal world order,' which he defined as a model that had degenerated into being merely "an instrument for ensuring the growth of an elite club of countries and its domination over everyone else." In Munich, he urged leaders with "a sense of responsibility" to choose "a post-West world order," in which each country develops its own "sovereignty" within the framework of international law, with respect for each country's identity.[7]

'There Was No Modernism And It Is Unlikely There Ever Will Be'

During the press conference, Lavrov also mentioned another concept: "there was no modernism and it is unlikely there ever will be." This position also tracks Dugin. In a 2016 interview, Dugin explained his anti-modernity and anti-modernism, which bears the influence of the German philosopher Martin Heidegger's writings. Dugin denounces modernity as essentially totalitarian and exclusivist. According to the Russian philosopher, modernity and its three political ideologies (liberalism, communism and fascism) are allodoxy, i.e. wrongly oriented. Dugin said: "My standpoint is against Modernity, which I reject as antithetic to the truth." He then added: "Liberalism is not an ideology that can let the other be. It can propose to the other to live only if it is a liberal other or at least the other that is going (may be in distant future) to become liberal. The limit case is when the other, being not liberal at all, agrees in essential cases to follow the will of liberals. Otherwise, it is finished. Liberalism is part of exclusivist Modernity and Modernity is essentially totalitarian. There is open totalitarianism in Nazism. It is more open and radical in communism. The totalitarian (Modern) nature of liberalism, which was hidden and implicit during the periods of confrontation with two other more openly totalitarian Modern regimes, is now increasingly transparent and apparent... Modernity and its three political ideologies are allodoxy. They are wrong not in the sense that they are not true (all ideologies are not true), but in the sense that they point in the direction that has nothing to do with the truth, in other direction, not the right one."[8]

In his book, The Fourth Political Theory (p.193), Dugin explained that the unipolar world order is based on modernist and post-modernist (that contains elements of modernism) values. Dugin wrote: "Unipolarity is based on modernist and post-modernist values that are openly anti-traditional one. I share the vision of René Guénon and Julius Evola, who considered modernity and its ideological basis (individualism, liberal democracy, capitalism, consumerism and so on) to be the case of the future catastrophe of humanity, and the global domination of the Western lifestyle as the reason for the final degradation of the Earth. The West is approaching its terminus, and we should not let it drag all the rest of us down into the abyss with it."[9] Following Dugin's reasoning, it is therefore possible to interpret Lavrov's words on modernism, as stressing his refusal to the whole of liberalism, its values and its consequences.

It is also worth noting that, in one of his writings, Dugin stated that Putin's presidential program could be defined by one simple word: "conservatism," as opposite to modernism. Dugin wrote: "Conservatism has an underlying philosophy. To be a conservative means to say 'no' to what we have now and to express one's disagreement with the current state of things... Traditionalism is a form of conservatism that argues that everything is bad in its entirety in today's world, not just in certain aspects. 'The idea of progress, technical development, Descartes' subject-object dualism, Newton's watchmaker argument, contemporary positivistic science and the education based on it, pedagogics, and what we call modernism and postmodernism — they are all bad.' A traditionalist likes only what had existed prior to modernism... The basic paradigm of Putin and his supporters is, I think, a universal conservatism, which includes everything from the liberally enlightened to the social and fundamental forms of conservatism. The alternatives are liberalism and Atlanticism, which have been held over from earlier times in the form of some of the personnel among the presidential administration and its experts and advisors. Putin is personally a supporter of the idea of economic and social mobilization for the sake of strengthening Russia's national sovereignty. It can be referred to as 'active conservatism', 'radical conservatism', and even a call for a conservative revolution. Putin would like to give conservatism some consistency and political resilience."[10]

Russia-EU Relations

Lavrov then moved to discuss Russia-EU relations. He disputed the position expressed by German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen's, claiming that Russia seeks to destabilize Europe.[11] In this regard, Lavrov said that there are "two amusing points" about that. Lavrov stated: "First, it completely ignores everything that we have proposed in keeping with the concept of equal and undivided security, and second, it turns out that Russia is not part of Europe. I leave these evaluations on Ms. von der Leyen's conscience."

As in his treatise, "Russia's Foreign Policy: Historical Background," (published on March 3, 2016), Lavrov duels with the accepted wisdom in the West that Russia is a political outsider to Europe. He argues in contrast that it is an integral part of the European context. While throughout history, Russia's power has been obstructed by European countries, Europe's geography, and its historical, intrinsic interconnection with Russia dictate that the Europe will always have to consider Russia.[12] Lavrov returned to the same argument in his Munich speech: "We [Russia and Europe] are part of the same continent, we wrote our history together, and we were successful when we worked hand-in-hand to achieve prosperity for our peoples." He complained that although "many millions of Soviet people sacrificed their lives for the freedom of Europe," the EU is unable "to muster enough strength and give up its Russian policy based on the lowest common denominator principle where fundamental and pragmatic interests of its member states are being sacrificed to Russophobic speculations."[13]

NATO-Russia Relations

During the press conference, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel warned of a new arms race with Russia. Gabriel said: "In my point of view we are concerned because in having certain discussions with both sides, we have great potential of the Russian Armed Forces in the Baltic states, in Poland, or a serious increase in the U.S. defense budget, that we are coming close to the danger of another arms race.", Lavrov retorted: "We have different data regarding the allegedly 'disproportionate' military build-up in our western regions."

The Russian Foreign Minister proposed normalizing relations and instead of "just repeating unsubstantiated allegations about Russia building up forces for a military campaign against the West, which our Ukrainian colleagues are ready to repeat around the clock...We need to sit down and let our militaries determine which forces are deployed in Europe and where. I think this would settle all the questions."

However, he also warned that Russia is not interested to be provoked by a "new round of confrontation". Lavrov said: "However, if every time our NATO partners tell us that they are ready to meet at the RNC [Russia- NATO Council] only to discuss Ukraine, that is the continuation of the same paranoid and aggressive policy. NATO has absolutely nothing to do with the efforts to achieve a peaceful settlement in Ukraine. If their idea is to use the RNC to provoke a new round of confrontation, then we do not want to play these games." He then added: "The Russia-NATO Council should not discuss yet again some pro-Ukrainian statements in support of the coup in Kiev, but do what it was created to do, that is, look at the security situation in the Euro-Atlantic region."

Description: http://www.mid.ru/documents/10180/2668848/CHU_7615.jpg/008a35b5-ac51-437f-a628-eef5f54d1f9a?t=1489060090507
Lavrov and his German counterpart Sigmar Gabriel (Mid.ru)

APPENDIX I – Russia's FM Sergey Lavrov’s Remarks And Answers To Media Questions At A Joint Press Conference Following A Meeting With Vice Chancellor And Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs Of The Federal Republic of Germany Sigmar Gabriel, Moscow, March 9, 2017 [14]

Lavrov: 'If Their Idea Is To Use The Russia-NATO Council To Provoke A New Round Of Confrontation, Then We Do Not Want To Play These Games'

Q: "How do you interpret the negative rhetoric about Russia coming from European capitals? Is this some kind of misunderstanding for you? How do you explain the growing negative perception of Russia in the world?"

Lavrov: "President Putin has on many occasions talked about the reasons for the rise in negative attitudes toward Russia in Western media. I also touched on this topic, including at the recently held Munich Security Conference. In short, it must have been accumulating for a while now, since the early 2000s when our Western partners began to realize that Russia will not blindly toe their line, and that Russia has its own, I underscore this, legitimate interests in the international arena, and that Russia is interested in finding a balance of interests, rather than joining the ranks behind our Western colleagues. It must have seemed strange already at that stage. In the 1990s, everyone witnessed Russia's propensity, with rare exceptions, to listen to the West on virtually all international matters, and started thinking that such an order had been established forever and would mark the end of history mentioned by Francis Fukuyama. The end of history failed to materialize. The world is objectively becoming 'post-Western.' There was no modernism and it is unlikely there ever will be. It is time to get used to the multi-polarity of the world and the fact that the leading players must understand and act on their collective responsibility for peace and stability.

"All these past 15 years we have been promoting the ideas promulgated in the 1990s on the wave of civilizational unity, which translated into the adoption of documents within the OSCE and Russia-NATO Council about the commitment of all Euro-Atlantic countries to equal and indivisible security. When NATO continued to expand and the U.S. withdrew from the ABM Treaty, we drew our Western colleagues' attention to the fact that these processes affect our security, and we would like to begin a discussion of what can be done in practice to ensure the political commitment we all have adopted, which was not to strengthen one's own security at the expense of the security of others. We received a simple answer that all of this is not directed against us. NATO is not expanding against Russia, and the global U.S. missile defense system is not directed against Moscow. Later, in 2008 in Bucharest, NATO leaders adopted a notorious decision at their summit to the effect that Georgia and Ukraine will join NATO. A couple of months later, then president of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili launched an attack on his own people in South Ossetia and the OSCE peacekeepers stationed there. You know how it ended.

"The radical nationalist segment of the Ukrainian elite lost common sense a little later, in February 2014, when a message that Ukraine will join NATO, and therefore can do as they please, resulted in a coup the day after an agreement was reached between the legitimately elected and generally recognized President of Ukraine and the opposition leaders. This agreement was witnessed by the foreign ministers of Germany, Poland and France. When this coup shattered all the agreements, and the main goal in Ukraine became to abolish the Russian language and to make all Ukrainians think 'in Western Ukrainian terms,' neither Germany, nor France, nor Poland called out Ukraine, let alone called on the coup perpetrators to re-establish order and return to the positions so painstakingly agreed with the help of Paris, Berlin and Warsaw.

"It was also a signal that we can still feel today. We made everything in our power. President Vladimir Putin personally made great efforts to ensure that the Minsk talks, which lasted for almost 24 hours, led to compromise agreements that would be implemented without fail. Nevertheless, our Western colleagues say they will not lift their sanctions (we are not even asking for that) until Russia implements the Minsk Agreements.

"True, yesterday, a U.S. State Department spokesman said at a briefing that the Minsk Agreements should be implemented by all parties. I believe that this is great progress. He added, 'including Russia', but I believe this was through inertia. They must be implemented primarily by the opposing sides: Donbass and the Ukrainian government.

"We are responding to being encircled by NATO arms and troops. The recent events, which are unfolding in keeping with the NATO Warsaw Summit, involve the deployment of ground forces from NATO countries (incidentally, including Germany) near our borders. When we call for returning to the logic of OSCE and Russia-NATO Council (RNC) summits, which posits that no one party will strengthen its security at the expense of the security of others, they tell us that this is a political slogan and it makes no sense to enshrine it in law, let alone discuss it at the practical level. So, what do you expect us to do? Do you expect us to say we are sorry and plead guilty? Our approach to this situation is somewhat different.

"We have never been short on initiatives, including the idea of European security treaty, a draft of which we submitted several years ago. Our Western partners simply refused to discuss it, saying that the political slogan about equal security remains a political slogan, while legal security guarantees could only be provided by NATO only! How do you like that? Is this not a violation of all the obligations accepted since the Cold War? Essentially, this is preserving the dividing lines, which everyone vowed and pledged to obliterate, and bringing them close to Russia.

"With regard to Germany, we should bear in mind that in a recent interview, German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen said Russia is not interested in a stable Europe. There are two amusing points about that: First, it completely ignores everything that we have proposed in keeping with the concept of equal and undivided security, and second, it turns out that Russia is not part of Europe. I leave these evaluations on Ms. von der Leyen's conscience.

"Regarding what needs to be done, I completely agree with Mr. Gabriel. We should talk to each other and try to understand each other's real, not fictional concerns. It is unacceptable to bang the door shut, as was the case following Georgia's aggression in the Caucasus in 2008, when our NATO partners refused to continue working at the RNC. The same mistake was repeated after the coup in Ukraine. It was not until a couple of years later that they began suggesting that the RNC should resume its work. We agreed. Three meetings at the ambassadorial level have already taken place. However, if every time our NATO partners tell us that they are ready to meet at the RNC only to discuss Ukraine, that is the continuation of the same paranoid and aggressive policy. NATO has absolutely nothing to do with the efforts to achieve a peaceful settlement in Ukraine. If their idea is to use the RNC to provoke a new round of confrontation, then we do not want to play these games. If, however, this is about substantive issues, such as safety in the airspace over the Baltic Sea or the Baltic region in general, last summer, in response to repeated calls from our Western colleagues, our military put forward concrete proposals aimed at ensuring that security. They contained initiatives on transponders and other confidence building measures. Those who urged us to take steps to ensure security in the Baltic region fell silent. We are still trying to receive a concrete response to these proposals.

"If we discuss Ukraine everywhere (and we know NATO's approach towards it), that would probably not bring us any closer to the goal that Mr. Gabriel has just mentioned: Understanding each other better and looking for a balance of interests. We are absolutely ready for a balance of interests and hope the assurances that our Western partners periodically make regarding their interest in normalizing relations will be followed up in practice, based on mutual respect and the desire to achieve this balance of interests."

Lavrov (adding after Sigmar Gabriel): "We are discussing this. I was not referring to the geographical but to the historical west. To give you a rough idea, Western Europe, the United States, Australia, New Zealand and Canada comprise the historical west, which set the tune in international affairs for several centuries. The situation has changed with new centers of power coming to the fore. I am acting on the assumption that human rights and democracy are universal principles that have been sealed primarily in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted at the UN in 1948. A look at the values that are being advocated by our Western partners shows that many of them are not acceptable to other civilizations, to those who respect the values of the global religions. This is why we need to specify the term' western.'

"As for the events in Tahrir Square, the protesters could rally in support of Western values but it was the Muslim Brotherhood that came to power as a result."

Lavrov: 'The Russia-NATO Council Should Not Discuss Yet Again Some Pro-Ukrainian Statements In Support Of The Coup In Kiev'

Q: "What role could the new U.S. administration play in eastern Ukraine?"

Lavrov (speaking after Sigmar Gabriel): "We understand how the system of authority works in the United States, when a great many officials are approved for new positions, after the elections, at Senate hearings. This takes time. Few new appointments have been made at the political level in the U.S. Department of State, apart from the Secretary of State and his first deputy. Many vacancies are yet to be filled. This is hindering active cooperation with our U.S. partners, although there is hardly any conflict that can be settled without U.S. assistance. This is all concerning Ukraine and our relations with Washington.

"In the past three years since the adoption of the Minsk Agreements, we established a channel for consultations with the United States, in addition to the Normandy format, regardless of the fact that we may disagree on some issues. I can tell you that these consultations proceeded in the same spirit as our work in the Normandy format and were aimed at promoting the full implementation of the Minsk Agreements. I am convinced that a U.S. contribution, in whatever form, towards encouraging the implementation of the Minsk Agreements would be very useful."

Q:"What can you tell us about Mr. Gabriel's critical remarks regarding Russian troops on your western border, which he described as 'disproportionate'?"

Lavrov: "We have different data regarding the allegedly 'disproportionate' military build-up in our western regions. Instead of just repeating unsubstantiated allegations about Russia building up forces for a military campaign against the West, which our Ukrainian colleagues are ready to repeat around the clock, we should be discussing the initiative we advanced long ago. The Russia-NATO Council should not discuss yet again some pro-Ukrainian statements in support of the coup in Kiev, but do what it was created to do, that is, look at the security situation in the Euro-Atlantic region. To be able to do this, everyone should show their cards and analyze the deployment of forces by all parties, and then compare the number and the scripts of military exercises.

"I see the first signs of common sense in the exchange of information about military drills launched between Russia and its allies on the one hand, and the NATO countries on the other hand. This is a useful process, but to be able to talk about our future plans – unless someone wants to continue accusing Russia instead of normalizing the situation – we need to sit down and let our militaries determine which forces are deployed in Europe and where. I think this would settle all the questions."

Q: "Do you think the current Foreign Minister of Germany, Sigmar Gabriel, will carry on the policies of his predecessor, or that relations with Russia will deteriorate?"

Lavrov: "I can see that there is continuity in our relations with leaders of German diplomacy. I hope it will be maintained and strengthened."

Lavrov: 'Some German Media Outlets Reported That We Send Chechen Saboteurs To Germany... All Of These Accusations Are Absolutely Groundless'

Q (addressed to both ministers): "Could you comment on Wikileaks' latest revelations regarding the CIA's sophisticated hacking capabilities? Documents suggest that US hackers working for the CIA have learned to hack into iPhone and Android operating systems and various messengers, and can intercept control systems used by cars and trucks and even spy on you through your switched-off TV. Do you plan to give up gadgets and other technical equipment, and does this information worry you?"

Lavrov (speaks after Sigmar Gabriel): "Concerning the suspicions that CIA hackers can hack not only into smartphones but also modern TV sets, I hear they can also hack into refrigerators. At least in order to cause problems in the power grid. I try not to take any phones with me into talks on sensitive issues. So far, it seems, I've managed not to get into any trouble.

"As for the reports about the CIA's hacking arsenal, we've seen and read them. It was mentioned that the number of hackers employed by the CIA is about 5,000. We've also read that the Consulate General in Frankfurt am Main has been used. I am proceeding based on media reports that experts believe this information is quite plausible. It seems that US administration officials are concerned by this leak (they consider it a leak, not just a fabrication) and will take corresponding measures to prevent any such leaks in the future.

"As for facts, we have to take into account everything that becomes known. It was also reported that in addition to encouraging hacking contacts and penetrations, the CIA also accumulates technology and malware used by foreign hackers. In other words, they can get access to what is known as a 'signature' or 'fingerprints.' So, when we were accused of something, the 'fingerprints' of Russian hackers were cited as evidence. Now it becomes known that the CIA can gain access to such 'fingerprints' and then probably use them.

"I wouldn't talk about this in such detail if we did not regularly encounter allegations that our country is involved in hacking attacks and that we send out subversives. Some German media outlets reported that we send Chechen saboteurs to Germany, try to discredit the German leadership, influence the course of elections and so on. I'd like to say only one thing: all of these accusations are absolutely groundless. Our relations would only benefit if attempts to blame Russia for all troubles were abandoned.

"We have never avoided any conversations. Today, we reaffirmed to our German colleagues that if somebody in Germany (I mean official circles) has questions or suspicions about Russia's actions or our involvement in a particular processes, you are most welcome. Give us concrete facts and we will be ready to discuss and deal with everything. So far we have seen no facts to back up these accusations. Although as far as I know, according to German media reports, an investigation into the allegations that we influenced or are influencing elections continued for a whole year. So far, no evidence has been produced, at least, according to German media reports.

"Let's live by facts, not rumors."

Q: "Can you comment on the continued allegations advanced by Germany, primarily the German media, regarding Russia's influence on the election process in Germany and the creation of fake news?"

Gabriel: "The German media are only responsible for themselves. This is the difference between Germany and other countries. The federal government of Germany is not advancing these accusations, and I can only speak on behalf of the German government."

Lavrov: "I believe this is perfectly correct."

 

 

[2] Mid.ru, March 9, 2017.

[4] Pro-Kremlin philosopher Alexander Dugin is in Katehon's supervisory board. Dugin is also editor-in-chief of the Orthodox-nationalist Tsargrad TV station.

[5] Katehon.com, January 17, 2017.

[9] The Fourth Political Theory, Alexander Dugin, Arktos, London 2012.

[11] See for example Von der Leyen's January 24, 2017 interview with Zeinab Badawi on BBC television's 'Hardtalk', Bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08bqlhh.

[14] Mid.ru, March 9, 2017