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

Republican Majority in Congress Off to Rough Start

Standoff over Homeland Security funding exposes philosophical, tactical problems within party More

Pakistan Blocks Baloch Activist from US Trip

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan slams Islamabad officials for stopping people from leaving country to attend human rights conference More

Video Muslims Long Thrived in North Carolina Before Students Killed

Idyll shattered February 10, when three Muslim university students living in Chapel Hill were gunned down by a neighbor 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.
Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Studentsi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
March 05, 2015 9:04 PM
The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Students

The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

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