Moscow is traditionally untalented at choosing allies, and even more so at maintaining those alliances, even when it has established them with great difficulty. Both handicaps stem from Moscow’s superiority complex, for which its occasional allies are not to blame.
On the eve of the Second World War, the chosen partner of the Soviets was Adolph Hitler, while in London there was a leader who knew that it was an alliance with the devil and fought to lead his great country to the destruction of evil. In Hitler, Winston Churchill unmistakably recognized the destroyer of civilization against whom he must fight until his destruction. At the same time, Moscow thought that he was a desirable historical comrade, in whose shadow they could realize their imperial dreams.
We still don’t know what the Kremlin was thinking the day before the attack on Ukraine, but it seems they counted on the fact that many would support their conquest. At worst, they wouldn’t interfere. Under the rush of imperial adrenaline, they felt that they didn’t need anyone because they are a world power that doesn’t need allies.
However, faced with fierce Ukrainian resistance and the heroism of the Ukrainian people, they very quickly began to look for allies who would even verbally support their aggression. It turns out that few answer a call from Moscow.
After eight months of destruction in Ukraine, Moscow is looking for talks; offering dialogue, pulling the sleeve of whomever it can, asking to sit down at the table and talk about peace. Conciliatory rhetoric is suddenly appearing from the Kremlin because the G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, is approaching and there is a chance for Putin to get a meeting with someone “big”.
At least that’s what the strategists in Moscow estimated. However, assessments are as good as the strategists that made them.
Faced with the collapse of its criminal operation in Ukraine, the collapse of its military power – self-proclaimed as the second strongest in the world – and especially the collapse of its aggressive policy that has been condemned on many occasions in the last eight months by almost all of humanity, Russia is looking for a way out of the mess it has made for itself.
The idea, obviously, is to drop the ball; to again speak in the language of partnership, cooperation, and to mend the ties broken in the last eight months.
Russian President Vladimir Putin recently said that Russia does not consider itself an enemy of the West. Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s foreign affairs minister, says they are ready for negotiations if the West takes Russia’s interests into account. Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov is already arranging a meeting between Putin and U.S President Joe Biden in Indonesia, offering to discuss “Russia’s security guarantees” and the return to the situation from December and January.
In order for this bizarre propaganda game not to gain too much momentum and remain in circulation for too long, Washington will try its best to prevent their president from meeting or even taking a photo with Putin while they are in Bali. According to news site Politico Europe, the U.S. officials reject any possibility of meeting between President Biden and Putin.
Moscow’s quasi-peacemaking charade aims to seat its president at the same table with Biden as the leader of the collective West, and thus prove its often repeated claim that Russia is not at war against Ukraine, but against the West.
Putin’s meeting with Biden would be a victory for Moscow’s narrative that a clash of civilizations is happening in Ukraine and not the most ordinary armed occupation of a sovereign state, accompanied by war crimes unheard of since World War II. And that is why such a meeting is impossible, to the regret of Moscow.
Russia, with Putin’s leadership, cannot be a partner, not even an interlocutor of any significant world bearing. Russia’s capacity to build alliances hit rock bottom on the very first day of its aggression against Ukraine. No one, except for five or six devastated states, has stood by Russia all these past months. No one except them recognizes its annexation of four Ukrainian regions in the east and south.
The vast majority do not want Russia in the UN Human Rights Council and persistently request Russia to immediately stop the conquest and withdraw from Ukraine. Russia is not wanted in the Council of Europe, which includes all European states except Belarus, as the only Russian satellite on European soil.
It seems that Russia is no longer welcomed in Central Asia among the former Soviet republics, in the narrowest “Russian backyard.” The recent meeting of the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, with the leaders of the Central Asian states in Kazakhstan showed the shift of the former “younger Soviet brothers” regarding their big neighbour and at the same time the direction of their interest in the future – which is Europe.
And while Moscow confidently claims that Western sanctions can’t harm them because they can reorient themselves to the huge Chinese market in an instant, there is no expected support from that side either.
Alexander Gabuev from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace described the Kremlin’s illusion about China by saying that Russia is inexorably slipping into the role of “junior partner” and “handmaid” to the Asian giant. During the Soviet era, it mockingly considered China a “poor cousin.”
No sane person thinks of falling for the Kremlin’s tricks from the early Cold War. Their belief that they are still a global power, whose signs of affection must be met, looks like a banal caricature. The only interlocutor on the subject of peace is the government in Kyiv and then only when Russia withdraws its occupying troops from Ukraine, admits mistake, and undertakes to pay war reparations.
Apparently, this has not yet reached Putin and his entourage clouded by the intoxicating juices of the myth of their own greatness. Just like on the street, where passers-by move aside from a drunkard while he is shouting and vomiting, everyone who takes care of themselves and their hygiene stays away from Russia.
Russia convinced itself and its people that they were going to war not against Ukraine, but against the West and that the time had come to destroy the West’s decadence and global imperialism. Russia invested everything it had in that campaign – the army, diplomacy, propaganda and the church – and, of course, tens of thousands of young lives, just to prove its self-righteous superiority while committing crimes that must not go unpunished. Such a dark enterprise cannot pose as a partner, and no one should believe it. It’s just an ordinary bully, whose violence has come to an end, even though he doesn’t yet realise it.
The views expressed are the authors’ own and not necessarily those of Kyiv Post.