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

    Hope Remains for Rio Olympic Games

    Facing a host of problems, Rio prepares for holding the games but experts say some risks, like Zika, may not be as grave as initially thought

    IS Use of Social Media to Recruit, Radicalize Still a Top Threat to US

    Despite military gains against IS in Iraq and Syria, their internet propaganda still commands an audience; US officials see 'the most complex challenge that the federal government and industry face'

    ‘Time Is Now’ to Save Africa’s Animals From Poachers, Activist Says

    During Zimbabwe visit, African Wildlife Foundation President Kaddu Sebunya says poaching hurts Africa as slave trade once did

    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.
    Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolatei
    X
    July 29, 2016 4:02 PM
    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolate

    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Tesla Opens Battery-Producing Gigafactory

    Two years after starting to produce electric cars, U.S. car maker Tesla Motors has opened the first part of its huge battery manufacturing plant, which will eventually cover more than a square kilometer. Situated close to Reno, Nevada, the so-called Gigafactory will eventually produce more lithium-ion batteries than were made worldwide in 2013. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Polio-affected Afghan Student Fulfilling Her Dreams in America

    Afghanistan is one of only two countries in the world where children still get infected by polio. The other is Pakistan. Mahbooba Akhtarzada who is from Afghanistan, was disabled by polio, but has managed to overcome the obstacles caused by this crippling disease. VOA's Zheela Nasari caught up with Akhtarzada and brings us this report narrated by Bronwyn Benito.
    Video

    Video Hillary Clinton Promises to Build a 'Better Tomorrow'

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged voters Thursday not to give in to the politics of fear. She vowed to unite the country and move it forward if elected in November. Clinton formally accepted the Democratic Party's nomination at its national convention in Philadelphia. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more.
    Video

    Video Trump Tones Down Praise for Russia

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is toning down his compliments for Russia and Vladimir Putin as such rhetoric got him in trouble recently. After calling on Russia to find 30.000 missing emails from rival Hillary Clinton, Trump told reporters he doesn't know Putin and never called him a great leader, just one who's better than President Barack Obama. Putin has welcomed Trump's overtures, but, as Zlatica Hoke reports, ordinary Russians say they are not putting much faith in Trump.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora