News / Europe

On Libya, Russia Shows New, Non-Aligned Foreign Policy

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (file photo)
Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (file photo)
James Brooke

In the Soviet days, it was clear where Moscow stood. Over the last two weeks, the Kremlin has been all over the map on Libya.

It is sometimes hard to remember that only two weeks ago, Russia abstained in the United Nations vote authorizing the use of military force in Libya.

Within days, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev was lecturing visiting American Defense Secretary Robert Gates about reports from Tripoli that allied bombing was causing heavy civilian casualties. Then, Russia’s foreign minister Sergey Lavrov warned Western nations not to arm Libya’s rebels.

This week, Russian congressmen appeared on television predicting Western defeat in Libya. And on Friday, Young Russia, a pro-Kremlin youth group, demonstrated outside the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, demanding that President Barack Obama return his 2009 Nobel Peace Prize for American involvement in wars in Libya, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Part of this can be attributed to anti-Americanism, a mood that has ruled Russian public opinion largely uninterrupted since the end of World War II. In a public opinion poll taken just before the Western military intervention in Libya, 65 percent of Russians agreed with the statement that the U.S. is an aggressor seeking to control all countries of the world.

But there is also a new twist.

Russia depends less and less on the West for trade and investment. Roland Nash, a strategist for Verno Capital, an Arab supported fund that invests in Russia, says capital flows are shifting Russia’s foreign policy.

"The West is just not that important, not so overwhelmingly important as it was several years ago for Russia. And they have been really reorienting to where the growth is coming from, and what is driving a lot of what is important in Russia. And that is Asia, China in particular, the Gulf, and other emerging markets, including South America and Africa," he said.

Increasingly, Russia trades and identifies with countries that historically see themselves as victims of aggression by Western powers, according to Nash, a native of Britain. "Ten years ago, the West was a completely dominant economic partner, China was irrelevant. Over the last 10 years, trade with China, for instance, has multiplied  by a factor of 10. Now China is a bigger trading partner than Germany," Nash said.

Many analysts see Russia as seeking a post-Imperial role in the world. No longer a superpower, it has decided to try to maintain good relations with key countries around the globe. In Soviet days, Russian diplomats routinely vetoed Security Council resolutions supported by the United States.  By abstaining in its UN vote, Russia joined China, Brazil and India.

Fyodor Lyukanov edits Russia in Global Affairs magazine. "Russia does not see itself any more as part of a global power which should participate in everything. Rather, the country focuses interests much more on spheres of most vital interest," Lyukanov said.

And increasingly those spheres are in Africa, Latin America and Asia - regions that are bystanders on Libya. "Russia is far and away the world’s largest producer of natural resources, and Asia is the biggest consumer. So it is really not surprising that the economic relations are going to get a lot stronger," Nash said.

On Friday, Mikhail Margelov, the Russian government’s top representative to Africa, gave a series of interviews, predicting that Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi would be out of power by June. The Russian official said he was sending aides to Benghazi to forge contacts with the opposition.

At the end of the day on Libya, Russian officials may have tried to please everyone, but ended up pleasing no one.

You May Like

New England Bears Brunt of US Blizzard

Boston, surrounding region grapple with as much as 3 feet of snow, coastal flooding; leaders in New York, spared most severe weather, criticized for being overly cautious More

China Lifts Lid on Sale of Fake Goods Online

A recent survey found nearly 60 percent of a random sample of items bought from Taobao were fake More

Upward Aims to Create Old-girls Network in Silicon Valley

Lisa Lambert, an executive with Intel Corp.'s venture-capital unit, responds to the gender-disparity debate by creating a new social organization More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Spacei
X
Rosanne Skirble
January 27, 2015 5:05 PM
The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Saved By a Mistake - an Auschwitz Survivor's Story

Dagmar Lieblova was 14 when she arrived at Auschwitz in December 1943, along with her entire Czech Jewish family. All of them were to die there, but she was able to leave after several months due to a bureaucratic mix-up which saved her life. Now 85, with three children and six grandchildren, she says she has a feeling of victory. This report by Ahmad Wadiei and Farin Assemi, of RFE/RL's Radio Farda is narrated by RFE’s Raymond Furlong.
Video

Video Weekly Protests in Korea Keep Japanese WWII Atrocities Alive

Every week in Seoul protesters gather in front of the Japanese Embassy to demand an apology and reparations from Tokyo for the thousands of South Korean women who were forced into prostitution during World War II. Although this year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of the war, these protestors have helped keep the issue of comfort women alive and made it difficult for Japan to move beyond its past wartime atrocities. VOA's Brian Padden reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Exercise: New Prescription for Parkinsons Disease

Exercise could be the new prescription for Parkinson's Disease, a progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects movement. More than six million people worldwide suffer from Parkinsons and they're traditionally treated with medication and surgery. Shelley Schlender has more.
Video

Video Brussels Shaken as New Greek Leader Challenges Europe’s Austerity Drive

Greece’s youngest-ever prime minister, 40-year-old Alexis Tsipras, was sworn in Monday after his victorious far-left Syriza party entered a coalition with far right rivals. Tsipras says he will restore dignity to Greece by ending spending cuts. So begins a new chapter for the country at the epicenter of Europe’s economic crisis - a change that has sent tremors across the continent, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Oil Price Drop Troubles Texas Producers

As oil prices have fallen over the past several months, drilling operations have slowed in some parts of the United States - including Texas, the state that surpasses all others in energy production. The Lone Star State’s energy output has been boosted in recent years by development of resources trapped deep below ground in the Eagle Ford shale deposit, which stretches across south central Texas. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Karnes City, Texas, the drop in oil prices has created concerns,
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid