Understanding Russia’s Near Abroad Foreign Policy

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Much has been going on in Russia’s borders in recent months:  from last year’s violent “Euromaindan” protests sponsored by the West, to the annexation of Crimea, the Eastern and Southern Ukraine’s invalid independence referendum, the sorry (at least in the Western eyes) Sochi Olympics, the relentless economic and political sanctions, and the stepping up of military patrols in Eastern Europe by NATO.

Not long ago did the West portray Russia as rebuilding a “Soviet empire” when it went to war with Georgia in August 2008. Since then, Western politicians and the mainstream media have spread their usual fear-mongering propaganda against Russia.

What’s missing from this narrative is the question of why Russia is forced to tackle its present challenges, especially along its borders. For one, centuries of Russian empire and the 20th century’s Soviet experiment solely points to the immense and legitimate influence Russia has on its near abroad frontier, be it in greater Eastern Europe or former Soviet republics, which include Ukraine.

What the West fails to understand is Moscow’s right and obligation to protect ethnic Russians outside the country, especially in the former Soviet republics. When the USSR collapsed in 1991, millions of Russian suddenly found themselves second-class citizens in other former Soviet republics, including in Ukraine.

For instance, back in February, one of the first “legislation” of the new illegitimate government of Kiev was to ban Russian language in Ukraine. Seriously, can language alone be of matter national security concern? The judgment and intentions of those in power can be in doubt especially if your country’s new leaders do not even know the right flag for a country he is visiting. And yet the West has the nerve to spread lies about Russia being the aggressor in the Ukraine crisis rather than the other way around.

And how Western politicians and mainstream media portray Russia’s fictitious ambitions is pretty much the same as how they portray China’s assertiveness in the South China Sea: that hot foreign policy conceals and overrides domestic concerns; a way to consolidate public support against a foreign aggressor while forgetting the troubles at home.

And yet all that protection for minorities outside Russia is seen as part of Vladimir Putin’s “empire building”, which in contrast to the West’s military and covert interventions abroad pretty much vilifies those accusing the Russian president instead.

Now that Russia is firmly out of the G8, eyes are focused on where Russia’s economic potentials will go instead. Indeed, Russia is part of the greater and more important G20, as well as the economic collective known as the BRICS. For at least the past decade now, Russia and China has been busy building new pipelines to transport energy to countries East of Russia, which will help Moscow diversify its economy to where the global economy is happening most: in Asia.

And of course talks of a new Cold War with Russia (and China) has been circulating in the Western mainstream media. Politicians up to the highest levels, including Barack Obama himself, are trying to blame (or deny) the new Cold War. Indeed, for some politicians in the West, the old Cold War with the Soviet Union really did not go away.

A Reemerging Russia is indeed what they fancy; after all, the fear of enemies abroad means the sustainment of the military industrial complex which Eisenhower feared will sustain America’s insatiable appetite for a permanent war economy.

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