In the short article Russia´s Bedfellowing Policy and the European Far Right, published in the
Russian Analytical Digest (nº 167 on May 6th 2015), professor of International Relations of Georgetown University Marlène Laruelle analyzes the general strategy of the Russian government in the enticement of "partners" within Europe.
In the second term of Vladimir Putin (2004-2008) the Russian government, taking advantage of the economic boom that the country lived with the high gains in gas and oil trade, invested heavily in promoting it´s globalization. Much of the legacy of the vast Soviet-era contact networks that existed around the world, such as the Communist parties, has retreated with the end of the regime and the following economic crisis of the 1990´s. With the return of economic prosperity, the government began to invest in TV channels, radio, internation groups of academic discussions and promoting foundations of "Russian values" aiming to form an alternative world order to the West having Russia as reference.
Today the country seeks new partners abroad, mainly in Europe, to extend the arms of it´s new order. As Laruelle says:
"This ‘bedfellowing’ policy has been built on an ideological agenda that has taken some time to develop. It can be briefly defined as follows: Russia denounces the hypocrisy and double standards of the Western world order, which pretends that Western countries, and especially the United States, promote an idealist agenda of democracy promotion, human rights, and the right to interfere on humanitarian grounds. However, Washington’s foreign policy, Russia insists, is in fact shaped by purely realistic, strategic interests: it aims to preserve the supremacy of its military, financial and industrial capabilities, to maintain its allies—Europe, Japan, Israel—in a situation of security dependence, and to ensure that no competition emerges from other countries or regional blocks."
Russia, Laruelle continues, says the current world order seeks to favor the US legally and financially, as well as guaranteeing for the Americans the information domain through the hosting of internet servers. "In turn", the professor says "Russia seeks to denounce this form of realpolitik, and to establish alternatives to American global dominance, such as the BRICS, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, assertive positions at the UN, confronting NATO, supporting opposite regimes to the West (such as Syria and North Korea) and policies that challenge US supremacy in the aerospace and information industry. This, of course, serves Russia´s own strategical goals, as for example it´s pursuit for a strategical partnership with China.
The creation, for example, of the Russian medias, such as Russia Today and Sputnik, put here in this blog, are explicit examples of this endeavor. In the same way, the sponsorship of the Russian oligarch´s great fortunes close to the government for events such as the World Congress of Families shows that an intricate web of relations among politicians, multibillionaires, intellectuals and political, academic and social organization are creating a Kremlin-centered network and promoting an indeological agenda at the international level. This whole structure aims, in the last instance, to contain and replace, according to the Eurasian language, the "unipolarity" of the US global power by the "multipolarity" led by Russia.
It´s interesting to note that the aliance that the Moscow government seeks with the far-right and fascists in Europe, as well as with the far-left, is based on a critical stance that both Russian leaders and such European groups have about the US role in the world, the current organization of the European Union, the Western democracy and liberalism in moral values (with the exception of the far-left in this last point). The far-right, however, isn´t a pro-Russian monolithic bloc, being some of them anti-Russian, especially the nationalist groups of countries that have already been under the Moscow´s rule in the Soviet times, such as those in Eastern Europe and Ukraine. By this way, Russia has an alliance with extremist groups who are out of the mainstream of European politics and seeks through contacts, meetings and discussion groups to bring them to the center of the political landscape in order to make them palatable to Western democracies. At the same time, while the Russian government has been striving to promote fascist groups in Europe on one hand, on other it has fought groups of the same ideology in Ukraine. As Laruelle says:
"The Kremlin is thus performing a difficult balancing act. It denounces the role of ultra-nationalism in the Euro-Maidan revolution and the influence of neofascist groups in Ukraine, while parties with a similar, but pro-Russia, ideology are held up as the authentic representatives of European conservative values."
* Published in Portuguese on July 2nd 2015.