November 18, 2019 Special Dispatch No. 8369

Russian Journalist Petr Akopov: Macron Began To Identify Russia's Place In The World Arena; However, Europe Strategically Needs Russia Much More Than We Need Europe

November 18, 2019
Russia | Special Dispatch No. 8369

On November 7, the Economist published a lengthy interview with French President Emmanuel Macron, part of which was devoted Russia's role in the world arena.[1]

In the interview, Macron predicted that Russia's Eurasian project would fail leaving Moscow no alternatives aside from forging a strategic partnership with the European Union.[2]

However, Russian journalist Petr Akopov, writing in the conservative media outlet, takes issue with Macron and argues that Russia does have alternatives and it will never be a EU partner, in the sense that Macron intends. Akapov also adds that Europe strategically needs Russia much more than Russia needs Europe. "Europe is calling on Russia to tune in to a common future. But Russia will have an independent future, in which there will be a place for normal, long-term relations with Europe. An independent Europe, which is yet to be," Akopov concludes.

Below is Akopov's article:[3]


Russia Will Never Be A EU Partner In The Sense That Macron Intends

"Russia's geopolitical strategy, place and future are being debated all over the world. But practically none of the great power leaders share his opinion with the public. However, it is not the first time that French President Macron has reflected aloud on Russia's choices. And now he has identified three scenarios for the future of our country. But they are overly categorical.

"Europe seeks for itself a new place in the world - and the young French president is among the most active in initiating this debate. Macron has already acknowledged that, without normal relations with Russia, Europe has no chance of gaining geopolitical independence, and called for a rethink of European policy towards Russia. In a new interview with The Economist, he tried to explain the need for a rapprochement with Russia not only in terms of the European interest, but also in terms of what is likely to be the best choice and most probable choice for Moscow itself. To this end he outlined what, in his opinion, are the three possible strategies for Russia.

"First scenario: Russia will try to restore its status as a superpower, relying only on its own forces. He calls it an autonomous 'Orthodox conservative project,' and considers this as extremely difficult to implement and says that he does not believe in this option. Allegedly, although the West provided Russia with an advantage due to its own mistakes, [Russia] does not have the strength to do it alone. Why? Because Russia's GDP is like Spain's, and the population is aging and shrinking. At the same time, the 'ideological model based on conservatism and on national identity' prevents the population from growing via a migration policy, and this is why Russians fear the Muslims around them.

"The second scenario is the Eurasian model. But here China is predominant. And presumably Russia's Eurasian option cannot be a balanced one for that reason. Speaking about the seating arrangements during the meetings on the Chinese 'one belt, one road' project, Macron notes that 'the Russian president was [sitting] further and further away from Chinese president Xi Jinping. He sees that everything is changing, and I'm not sure that he likes it.' Recalling that Putin is a child of St. Petersburg (obviously having in mind that it is a great European city), Macron adds: 'I do not believe for a second that his strategy is to be a vassal of China.'

"Thus, Macron smoothly leads into the third scenario - a balanced model of partnership with Europe. Yes, Macron admits, now Putin looks at Europe as a vassal of the United States, and at the European Union, as a Trojan horse of NATO, which is trying to expand up to the borders of Russia, and therefore Putin is embarked on a conservative anti-European project: 'But I don't understand how in the long run his project cannot be anything else but a project of partnership with Europe.'

"And this, Macron continues, is also necessary for Europe: 'If we want to build peace in Europe, to reestablish a European strategic autonomy, we need to change our position towards Russia.' It may take ten years – 'but we have the right not to be direct enemies with the enemies of our friends.'

"Macron, therefore, believes, or wants to believe, that Russia will always be there for partnership with the European Union - because it has no alternative. Everything here is very cunning and tendentious, although justified from the point of view of European interests.

"What options does Macron offer Russia? [They are] an independent great power, a Eurasian power and a partnership with Europe. The first two are flawed and risky, he says, so [it is better] to get along amicably with Europe.

"Russia is completely unopposed to normal and even close relations with the European Union, but it will never be its partner in Macron's interpretation of the term. Because it will [try to] implement the first two scenarios, whereas Europe itself will construct the third one for us.

(A humorous Atlas of the world, Ryozo, Tanaka, 1914)

Russia Will Have An Independent Future, In Which There Will Be A Place For Normal Relations With Europe; An Independent Europe, Which It Has Yet To Become

"Comparing our GDP with the Spanish one is incorrect, because Russia's current role and place in the world economy do not correspond to our potential. The country can and will become one of the world's top five economies; it is merely a matter of time. And her impact on the world economy will exceed the size of the country’s GDP. Also, the demographic problem is not an obstacle to self-development, although we desperately need an increase in the birth rate, no one in the country's leadership will ever consider the option of populating Russia with migrants.

"And it is not because we fear Muslims (we already have 20 million of them), but because of the desire to preserve and develop Russian civilization, and [to avoid] experimenting on our own country. And [also] because Macron's very logic – of bringing in migrants in order to raise the GDP - is absolutely flawed. Migrants can have an economic effect for a while, as they did in Germany in the 1960s and 1970s. But the large-scale migration of representatives of other civilizations leads over time to so many problems within the host society that no GDP growth can correct.

"Russia wants to be an independent great power, but not of the scale of the USSR, if we are talking about external expansion - political and economic. For us in the coming decades, the most relevant thing is the build-up of internal power and reintegration of the post-Soviet space. And the growth of our activity on the world stage is called upon for creating optimal conditions for fulfilling these two tasks.

"Russia does not want to be a superpower in the terminology of the US-Soviet confrontation era. And, this is not because it has less power, but because the world has changed and will change still further. But the world is changing thanks to our active participation as a great independent power.

"But Russia will also implement the Eurasian scenario and is already implementing it. Macron, deliberately or not, reduces it to the relationship between Moscow and Beijing, but it is much more complex. China will be the strongest economic power of the world throughout the XXI century. However, this does not mean that the Russian Eurasian strategy should be described [only] through the prism of the Russian-Chinese relations. For Russia, the real Eurasian scenario is to spread out from the West to the East, not to replace something with something else, but to acknowledge the uniqueness [of every option] and to take advantage of its fruits.

"Russia is neither West nor East; Russia is an independent and potentially self-sufficient civilization. But we have generated a strong bias towards relations and ties with the West (expressed also in the uneven development of the territory of our country). Now we need to emphasize the east and south, where there are many countries and forces which are interesting for us and which in turn are interested in us. [They extend] from Turkey to Korea, from Iran to Japan, from India to the Islamic world as a whole. The Eurasian way does not cancel the ties with Europe, it simply deprives them of the status of no-alternative.

"So the third scenario, described by Macron as inevitable for Russia, is actually so for Europe. Europe strategically needs Russia much more than we need [Europe]. In the current confrontation, the blame lies entirely with the European side.

"[This is] because at first [Europe], even on the Atlantic initiative, encroached on part of the Russian world, on Ukraine. That is, it carried out an act of open geopolitical aggression. And then, after Russia's 'Crimean response', in obedience to the same Anglo-Saxon will, Europe joined the attempts to punish and isolate Russia. As a result, it fully showed itself to be an Atlanticist vassal and undermined its reputation, as a reliable partner, in Russia's eyes.

"Now, ever strongly considering an independent life in the post-Atlantic world, Europe is calling on Russia to commit itself to a common future. But Russia will have an independent future, in which there will be a place for normal, long-term relations with Europe. An independent Europe, which is yet to be [will have to arise first]. Not at our expense or at the expense of our geopolitical interests, but with our help, if they have the courage to ask for it."



[1], November 7, 2019.

[3], November 9, 2019.

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