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

Video Westgate Mall Attack Survivors Confront Painful Memories

On anniversary of terror attack, survivors discuss how they have coped with trauma they experienced that day More

Iraqi Kurdish Leader: Protect Syrian City

Islamic State fighters are besieging Kobani, also known as Ayn al-Arab, after seizing at least 21 surrounding villages in a major assault against city on Syria's northern border with Turkey More

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

Conservationists hail ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015 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.
Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calaisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 19, 2014 5:04 PM
The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video CERN Accelerator Back in Business

The long upgrade of the Large Hadron Collider is over. The scientific instrument responsible for the discovery of the Higgs boson -- the so-called "God particle" -- is being brought up to speed in time for this month's 60th anniversary of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known by its French acronym CERN. Physicists hope the accelerator will help them uncover more secrets about the origins of the universe. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid