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“Valdai insight”: not to capture Mariupol so as to get to Paris and Berlin in the end?

The past NATO summit in Warsaw has forced foreign policy experts from the Valdai Club to go from their thesis about “Greater Europe” to the reality of U.S.-led unions expanding towards Eurasia. One of the experts, Timofey Bordachev, has published an article entitled “Russia and the Berlin-Washington Order in Europe.” The last sentence of the article says: “There would be no place for us in a different setup.” By saying “a different setup,” Bordachev means the collective West and anti-Russian Europe. And his key thesis is that Russia has no place in that setup.

The key points of Bordachev’s article are as follows:

1. Today, Europe is being ruled by a new Berlin-Washington order – “an effective response to the threat of chaos looming on the horizon for the EU.” “It will center around a strategic and comprehensive partnership of mutual respect between the Western economic giants – the US and Germany.”

2. “It is an organic part of the structure of the global West and plays a role in its confrontation with the global non-West.”

3. “It is based on unity on several fronts: military and political (NATO), economic (the forthcoming Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership or some other incarnation), culture and civilization (liberal Protestantism) and even ethnic identity (the relative majority of the white US population has German ancestry).”

4. The leader of the order is the United States.

5. "It excludes and even antagonizes Russia” – just as “the EU, will never recognize Crimea as part of Russia and lift its barbaric sanctions against the peninsula.”

“With the advent of the new order, the EU is unlikely to become a simpler and more responsible partner for Russia. Many observers have expressed concerns that it could even become more aggressive and go beyond political confrontation into military provocation,” Bordachev says.

The expert is ambiguous here: he says “unlikely” and what does he mean by “more aggressive”? And when he says “military provocation,” why does he refer to the EU and not NATO? In the same article, he says that “NATO will become the military and political foundation for unity against Russia.”

Today Bordachev is reputed as the leading Russian expert on Russia-EU relations. He is Ph.D. in Political Science at Higher School of Economics and is the author of a monograph entitled “Toward a Strategic Alliance” (2009). And now seven years later, Bordachev admits that his concept of a Russian-European alliance has failed - though Russia is still ready to supply the EU with gas. Why doesn’t he admit that all of his past analyses about Russia’s relations with Germany and Europa have proved to be invalid?

The key thesis of his new article is that Europe is creating a new order, a new setup. The only news here is that Europe and the United States are preparing for Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. All the other points are not new as for many years already we have witnessed close partnership between European and North American transnational corporations.

So, the question is, “Is this order new?” The primary goal of NATO and the European Community was exactly to make Germany a servant to the United States’ interests. The core of the post-war Yalta-Potsdam order was divided Germany. Germany’s reunification put an end to this order and made that country a strong player in the post-Yalta world. And it also gave start of NATO’s expansion into Europe. One of the episodes of this story was NATO’s aggression against Serbia and recognition of Kosovo.

Both the Americans and the Europeans have always admitted that NATO and the EU are two wings of the U.S.-led West. They even had a plan of eastward expansion. Now that they have faced Russia’s confrontation in Ukraine, they have hurried to enroll NATO. This is what Bordachev terms as a new order but in fact this is an upgraded old model.

One of the key signs of this new order, according to the expert, is that “Europe no longer wants to try and incorporate Russia as a junior partner but instead seeks to revive its historical role as a rival and threat.” But the “incorporation” process is not over. They in Washington have a plan of action for 50 years ahead. And there is no need to “revive” anything as Russia has always been a rival and threat for the West. And Bordachev is part of this mentality.

What Bordachev wants to say in his article is that Russia has no future in the West but the problem is that the expert gives no solutions.

This is what he says instead: “Dialogue on individual issues with the most sensible European nations will be possible, though not in violation of the tough rules of the Berlin-Washington system that is being forged in Europe.” And then quite illogically he adds: “We should do our best to prevent a divide between our societies and the erosion of our common cultural and civilizational space.” Just a moment – have we ever had any common cultural and civilizational space with Europe? When? During the Soviet times? And hasn’t there always been unanimity in Europe that Russia is a different civilization?

Concerning the phrase “we should do our best to prevent...” What does Bordachev suggest to do for this purpose? What should we give? Bordachev hopes that Nemesis will punish Europe for ignoring Russia. The expert admits that “Russia will not be part of the new European order...” and adds “...which could make it relatively unstable and short-lived. This is what happened to another order, the Versailles-Washington model, which basically ignored Russia.” But the Versailles-Washington order was ruined by Germany rather than Nemesis. First, Germany annexed Austria, then it attacked Czechoslovakia and Poland and finally there was the German-Soviet Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact. “Conversely, the international orders that treated Russia as an important part – Vienna and Yalta-Potsdam – turned out to be successful and ensured peace in Europe,” says Bordachev. But in order to ensure that peace, Russia first entered Paris in 1814 and then captured Berlin in 1945, didn’t it? And today the same Valdai experts are warning the same Russia against capturing a small town like Mariupol.

In any case, Bordachev’s article is really outstanding. For the first time, a Valdai expert has attempted to give a true picture of “Greater Europe.” There are some mistakes in the article but what we really need here is solutions. So, let’s wait for them to describe.

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