“The conturs of a multipolar and multilateral order”

Foreign policy keynote speech by the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin on 14 June 2024 (excerpt)

km. On 14 June 2024, one day before the start of the Bürgenstock Conference in Switzerland, Russian President Putin gave a keynote speech on foreign policy to officials from the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.1 The main topic in our media was that the Russian President formulated conditions for an immediate ceasefire and peace negotiations in Ukraine. Indeed, he did this in the second part of his speech. He named two conditions: the withdrawal of all Ukrainian troops from the (former) four south-east Ukrainian administrative regions of Donetsk, Lugansk, Kherson and Zaporozhye – regions that declared themselves part of the Russian Federation in a referendum in September 2022 – and an official declaration by Ukraine “that it has abandoned its plans to join NATO”. Russia’s “principled position” was the “neutral, non-aligned, non-nuclear status of Ukraine, its demilitarisation and denazification” (as very specifically agreed in Istanbul in March 2022). The “rights, freedoms and interests of Russian-speaking citizens in Ukraine” must be “fully guaranteed”. All of this should be “laid down in the form of fundamental international agreements” and include “the lifting of all Western sanctions against Russia”. The Russian President ruled out negotiations with Volodymyr Zelensky. Zelensky’s term of office had expired on 20 May 2024. The Russian President embedded his demands in a renewed analysis of the history of the conflict and the role of those involved. However, he also made it clear that the basis of today’s demands was today’s situation and that the demands will be new in case the West and Ukraine reject the Russian offer and instead decide in favour of a continuation of the war – which the Western side and Volodymyr Zelensky did immediately after the speech.
  We have decided not to document this somewhat more extensive second part of the speech but rather the first part which makes clear the fundamental considerations on the goals of Russian foreign policy. This should not prevent the reader from studying the second part of the speech in detail. The subtitles have been added by the editors.

Colleagues, good afternoon.
  I am pleased to welcome all of you and express my gratitude for your active work in the interests of Russia and our people.
  We last met in this extended format in November 2021, and since then, there have been many pivotal and even fateful events, without exaggeration, both in Russia and around the world. Therefore, I think it is important to assess the current situation in global and regional affairs, as well as set the appropriate tasks for the Foreign Ministry. All of these tasks are aimed at achieving our main goal: creating conditions for Russia’s sustainable development, ensuring its security, and improving the well-being of Russian families.

A rapidly changing world

In today’s challenging and unpredictable conditions, our work in this area demands that we concentrate our efforts, initiative, perseverance, and abilities not only to respond to current challenges, but also to set our own long-term agenda. We should propose possible solutions to fundamental issues that concern not only us, but also the entire international community. It is crucial to discuss them with our partners in an open and constructive manner.
  Let me repeat: the world is changing rapidly. Global politics, the economy, and technological competition will never be the same as before. More countries are striving to strengthen their sovereignty, self-sufficiency, and national and cultural identity. The countries of the Global South and East are gaining prominence, and the role of Africa and Latin America is growing. Since the Soviet times, we have always acknowledged the importance of these regions, but today the dynamics have completely shifted, and this is becoming increasingly evident. The pace of transformation in Eurasia, where many significant integration projects are underway, has also accelerated significantly.

A multipolar world reflects the
cultural and civilisational diversity

This new political and economic reality now serves as the foundation for the emerging multipolar and multilateral world order, and this is an inevitable process. It reflects the cultural and civilisational diversity that is inherently part of humanity, despite all attempts at artificial unification.
  These profound, system-wide changes certainly inspire optimism and hope because the establishment of multipolarity and multilateralism in international affairs, including respect for international law and broad representation, make it possible to resolve the most complex problems together for the common benefit, and to build mutually beneficial relations and cooperation between sovereign states for the sake of well-being and security of peoples.

Growing interest in BRICS

Such a vision for the future aligns with the aspirations of the vast majority of countries. This is evident, among other things, in the growing interest in the work of a universal association such as BRICS, which is based on a culture of trust-based dialogue, sovereign equality of its members and respect for each other. Under the Russian chairmanship this year, we will facilitate the smooth inclusion of new BRICS members in the association’s working bodies.
  I ask the Government and the Foreign Ministry to continue substantive work and dialogue with our partners to make sure that the BRICS summit in Kazan in October will have a considerable set of agreed decisions that will determine the direction of our cooperation in politics and security, the economy and finance, science, culture, sports and humanitarian ties.
  In general, I believe that the potential of BRICS will allow it to become one of the core regulatory institutions of the multipolar world order.

Democratisation of the
entire system of international relations

I should note in this connection that international discussions are already underway regarding the parameters of interaction between states in a multipolar world and the democratisation of the entire system of international relations. In this regard, we have agreed on and adopted, together with our colleagues in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), a joint document on international relations in a multipolar world. We have also invited our partners to discuss this subject at other international platforms, primarily in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and BRICS.

Creation of a system
of indivisible security

We are interested in fostering this dialogue within the UN, including on such a vital topic for all as the creation of an indivisible security system. In other words, global affairs must be based on the principle that the security of some cannot be ensured at the expense of the security of others.
  Let me remind you that at the end of the 20th century, after the end of the intense military and ideological confrontation, the international community had a unique opportunity to build a reliable and just security order. This did not require much – simply the ability to listen to the opinions of all interested parties and a mutual willingness to take those opinions into account. Our country was determined to engage in constructive work of this nature.

The view of the USA: unlimited
expansion of the North Atlantic bloc

However, a different approach prevailed. The Western powers, led by the United States, believed that they had won the Cold War and had the right to determine how the world should be organised. The practical manifestation of this outlook was the project of unlimited expansion of the North Atlantic bloc in space and time, despite the existence of alternative ideas for ensuring security in Europe.
  They responded to our justified questions with excuses, claiming that there were no plans to attack Russia, and that the expansion of NATO was not directed against Russia. They effectively forgot about the promises made to the Soviet Union and later Russia in the late 1980s and early 1990s that the bloc would not accept new members. Even if they acknowledged those promises, they would grin and dismiss them as mere verbal assurances that were not legally binding.

Russia has always pointed
out the West’s misguided path

In the 1990s and later, we consistently pointed out the flawed approach taken by Western elites. Instead of simply criticising and warning them, we suggested options and constructive solutions, emphasising the need to develop a mechanism of European and global security that would be acceptable to all parties involved (I want to underscore this point). It would take too long to list all the initiatives advanced by Russia over the years.
  Let us recall the idea of a European security treaty, which we proposed in 2008. In December 2021, a memorandum from the Russian Foreign Ministry was submitted to the United States and NATO, addressing the same issues.
  However, all our repeated attempts (it is impossible to list them all) to convince our partners, as well as our explanations, appeals, warnings and requests, met with no response. Western countries, confident not so much in the righteousness of their cause as in their power and ability to impose whatever they wish on the rest of the world, simply disregarded other perspectives. At best, they proposed discussions on less significant matters (that did little to resolve the actual problems), or matters that only benefitted the West.

The consequences of Western
scapegoating: numerous wars

It soon became clear that the Western concept, seen as the only viable option for security and prosperity in Europe and the world, was, in fact, ineffective. Let us recall the tragedy in the Balkans. While domestic issues had certainly contributed to the problems in former Yugoslavia, they were greatly exacerbated by intrusive external interference. At that time, the main principle of NATO diplomacy manifested itself most vividly – a deeply flawed principle that is of no use in addressing complex internal conflicts. In essence, this principle aims to assign blame to one party (often disliked by the West for various reasons) and unleash the full political, informational and military might of the West, including economic sanctions and restrictions against it.
  Later, these same approaches were applied in various countries, which we know all too well: Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Afghanistan. These interventions have done nothing but worsen existing problems, ruin the lives of millions of people, destroy entire states, and create hubs of humanitarian and social disasters, as well as terrorist enclaves. In fact, no country in the world is immune from joining this tragic list.

Western interference worldwide

For example, the West is currently trying to brazenly meddle in the affairs of the Middle East. They previously held a monopoly over this region, and the consequences of their actions are now evident to everyone.
  The South Caucasus and Central Asia are also prime examples. Two years ago, at the NATO summit in Madrid, it was declared that the alliance would now deal with security issues not only in the Euro-Atlantic, but also in the Asia-Pacific region. They claim those areas can not do without them. Clearly, this was an attempt to exert more pressure on those countries in the region whose development they have decided to restrain. As you know, Russia ranks high on this list.

Terminating the disarmament
treaties and Western adventurism

Let me also remind you that it was Washington that undermined strategic stability by unilaterally withdrawing from the treaties on anti-missile defence, on the elimination of intermediate- and shorter-range missiles and on open skies, and, together with its NATO satellites, dismantling the decades-old system of confidence-building measures and arms control in Europe.
  Lastly, the self-centeredness and arrogance of Western countries have led us to a highly perilous situation today. We are inching dangerously close to a point of no return. Calls for a strategic defeat of Russia, which possesses the largest arsenals of nuclear weapons, demonstrate the extreme recklessness of Western politicians. They either fail to comprehend the magnitude of the threat they are creating or are simply consumed by their notion of invincibility and exceptionalism. Both scenarios can result in tragedy.

Crumbling of the
Euro-Atlantic security system

It is evident that the entire system of Euro-Atlantic security is crumbling before our eyes. At present, it is practically non-existent and must be rebuilt. To achieve this, we must collaborate with interested countries, of which there are many, to develop our own strategies for ensuring security in Eurasia and then present them for broader international deliberation.
  This is the task set in the Address to the Federal Assembly: to outline a vision for equal and indivisible security, mutually beneficial and equitable cooperation, and development on the Eurasian continent in the foreseeable future.

Creating a new framework
for equal and indivisible security

What needs to be done to achieve this and on what principles?
  First, it is important to establish dialogue with all potential participants in this future security system. I would like to ask you to address the necessary issues with countries that are open to constructive interaction with Russia.
  During my recent visit to China, President Xi Jinping and I discussed this issue. It was noted that the Russian proposal is not contradictory, but rather complements and aligns with the basic principles of the Chinese global security initiative.
  Second, it is crucial to recognise that the future security architecture should be open to all Eurasian countries that wish to participate in its creation. ‘For all’ includes European and NATO countries as well. We share the same continent, and we must live and work together regardless of the circumstances. Geography cannot be changed.
  Yes, Russia’s relations with the EU and many European countries have deteriorated, and it is important to emphasise that we are not to blame for that. The anti-Russia propaganda campaign, involving senior European politicians, is accompanied by speculation that Russia intends to attack Europe. I have addressed this issue before, and there is no need to repeat it again here. We all understand that these claims are baseless and serve only to justify an arms race.

The main threat to Europeans is the
almost total dependence on the USA

In this context, I would like to make a brief digression. The threat to Europe does not come from Russia. The main threat to Europeans is their critical and increasing dependence on the United States in military, political, technological, ideological, and informational aspects. Europe is being marginalised in global economic development, plunged into the chaos of challenges such as migration, and losing international agency and cultural identity.
  Sometimes, I get the impression that European politicians and representatives of the European bureaucracy are more afraid of falling out of favour with Washington than losing the trust of their own people. The recent election to the European Parliament has also demonstrated this. European politicians tolerate humiliation, rudeness, and scandals, such as surveillance of European leaders, while the United States simply exploits them for its own benefit. For instance, they are forced to purchase expensive gas, which costs three to four times more in Europe than in the United States. Additionally, European countries are pressured to increase arms supplies to Ukraine. The demands are constant, and sanctions are readily imposed on European economic operators without any hesitation.
  They are now pressuring their partners to supply Ukraine with more weapons and increase their capacity for manufacturing artillery shells. Who will need these shells once the conflict in Ukraine ends? How does this ensure European military security? It is difficult to understand. The United States is investing in military technologies, particularly advanced future technologies such as space exploration, modern drones and strike systems based on new physical principles. The United States is funding areas that will shape the nature of future armed conflicts, as well as the military and political power of nations and their standing in the world. These countries are expected to invest in areas of interest to the United States. However, this does not expand European potential. Let them do as they wish. We will probably benefit from it, but, in effect, that is the situation.

Europe needs good and
friendly relations with Russia

If Europe wants to continue being an independent centre of global development and a cultural and civilisational pole on our planet, it should definitely maintain good and friendly relations with Russia. Most importantly, we are ready for this.
  Indeed, politicians of truly European and global scale, who are patriots of their countries and nations, understand this simple and obvious fact. They think in terms of historical categories and are not mere followers of someone else’s will and influence. Charles de Gaulle spoke about this during the post-war period. I vividly recall participating in a conversation in 1991 where German Chancellor Helmut Kohl emphasised the importance of partnership between Europe and Russia. I hope that new generations of European politicians will eventually restore this legacy.
  Speaking of the United States, the never-ending attempts by the current globalist liberal elites to spread their ideology worldwide, to maintain their imperial status and dominance in one way or another, are only further exhausting the country, leading to its degradation, and clearly contrary to the genuine interests of the American people. If it were not for this dead-end policy, driven by aggressive messianism based on the belief in their own superiority and exceptionalism, international relations would have long been stabilised.

A Eurasian security system

Third, it is necessary to significantly intensify the dialogue process between multilateral organisations already operating in Eurasia to promote the idea of a Eurasian security system, above all such organisations as the Union State, the Collective Security Treaty Organisation, the Eurasian Economic Union, the Commonwealth of Independent States, and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.
  We consider it possible that other influential Eurasian associations from Southeast Asia to the Middle East will join these processes in the future.

Starting a broad discussion

Fourth, we believe that the time has come to start a broad discussion of a new system of bilateral and multilateral guarantees of collective security in Eurasia. At the same time, it is necessary, in the long term, to gradually phase out the military presence of external powers in the Eurasian region.
  Of course, we are aware that in the current situation this point may seem unrealistic, but that will change. However, if we build a reliable security system in the future, there will simply be no need for such a presence of out-of-region military contingents. To be honest, there no need today either – just occupation and that’s all.
  In the final analysis we believe that countries and regional structures in Eurasia should themselves identify specific areas of cooperation in joint security. Guided by this, they must also build a system of working institutions, mechanisms, and agreements that would really serve to achieve common stability and development goals.

A charter of multipolarity
and diversity in the 21st century

In this sense, we support our Belarusian friends’ initiative to develop a programme document – a charter of multipolarity and diversity in the 21st century. It can formulate not only the framework principles of Eurasian architecture based on the essential norms of international law, but also, a strategic vision of the nature of multipolarity in a broader sense and multilateralism as a new system of international relations which would replace the Western-centric world. I consider it important and would like to ask you to thoroughly work out on this document with our partners and with all interested states. I will add that when discussing such complicated and comprehensive issues, we need as broad representation as possible and a consideration of different approaches and positions.

Solving major problems together

Fifth, an crucial part of the Eurasian security and development system should definitely be the issues of the economy, social well-being, integration, and mutually beneficial cooperation, as well as addressing such common problems as overcoming poverty, inequality, the climate, the environment, and developing mechanisms to respond to the threats of pandemics and crises in the global economy. All that is important.

The West has stifled
development in the global South

The West not only undermined the world’s military-political stability by its actions. It has compromised and weakened the key market institutions by its sanctions and trade wars. Using the IMF and the World Bank and twisting the climate agenda, it has been restraining the development of the Global South. Yielding in competition, even by the rules that the West has written for itself, it applies prohibitive barriers and all kinds of protectionism. Thus the United States has abandoned the World Trade Organisation as an international trade regulator. Everything is blocked. Meanwhile, the pressure is exerted not only on competitors, but on their own satellites. Suffice it to see how they are now “siphoning off the juices” from the European economies which are teetering on the brink of recession.
  Western countries have frozen some of Russia’s assets and currency reserves. Now they are trying to invent some legal justification for their irreversible appropriation. On the other hand, however, despite all the crooked lawyerism, theft will obviously remain theft and will not go unpunished.

Stealing Russian assets
becomes a boomerang for the West

The issue is even deeper. By stealing Russian assets, they will take one more step towards destroying the system that they created themselves and that for many decades ensured their prosperity, allowed them to consume more than they earn, and attracted money from all over the world through debts and liabilities. Now it is becoming clear to all countries, companies and sovereign wealth funds that their assets and reserves are far from safe, both legally and economically. And anyone could be the next in line for expropriation by the United States and the West, those foreign sovereign wealth funds could also be the one.
  There is already a growing distrust of the financial system based on Western reserve currencies. There has appeared a certain outflow of funds from securities and bonds of Western countries, as well as from some European banks, which were until fairly recently considered to be absolutely reliable to put capital in. Now gold is also being taken out gold from those banks. And this is the right thing to do.

Laying the socio-economic
foundations for a new security system

I believe that we need to seriously intensify the formation of effective and safe bilateral and multilateral foreign economic mechanisms as alternatives to those controlled by the West. This includes the expansion of settlements in national currencies, the creation of independent payment systems and the building of value chains that bypass the channels blocked or compromised by the West.
  Naturally, it is necessary to continue efforts to develop international transport corridors in Eurasia, the continent with Russia as its natural geographical core.
  Through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, I instruct you to assist as much as possible in developing international agreements in all these areas. They are extremely important for strengthening economic cooperation between our country and our partners. This should also give a new impetus to building a large Eurasian partnership, which, in essence, may become a socioeconomic basis for a new indivisible security system in Europe.  •

1 Authorised English translation: http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/74285 of 14 June 2024

About the Bürgenstock-Conference

“Let me also remind you that following the commencement of the special military operation [in Ukraine], the West initiated a vigorous and quite undiplomatic campaign aimed at isolating Russia on the global stage. It is now evident to everyone that this attempt has failed. However, the West has not abandoned its goal of forming an international coalition of sorts against Russia and maintaining a facade of pressure on our country. We are fully aware of this strategy as well.
  As you may be aware, there has been active promotion of the initiative to convene the so-called high-level international conference in Switzerland on peace in Ukraine. Moreover, they intend to hold it shortly after the G7 summit, that is those who essentially fuelled the conflict in Ukraine through their policies. The organisers of the meeting in Switzerland are proposing yet another manoeuvre to divert attention, distort the root causes of the Ukrainian crisis, misdirect the discussion, and to some extent, reaffirm the legitimacy of the current executive power in Ukraine.
  Hence, it is expected that the conference in Switzerland will avoid addressing the fundamental issues underlying the current crisis in international security and stability, including the true roots of the Ukrainian conflict. Despite efforts to present a seemingly respectable agenda, these critical matters are unlikely to be discussed.
  We can expect that everything will boil down to general demagogic speeches and a new set of accusations against Russia. The idea is easy to read: bring in as many states as possible by any means possible and present the matter as if Western recipes and rules are shared by the entire international community as a result, which means Russia must unconditionally accept them.”

Source: Authorised English translation:
http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/74285 of 14 June 2024

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