In a surprising speech, Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov admitted Russia’s mistakes in building relations with the West, practically giving up the idea of “privileged interests” of Russia in the FSU countries. Lavrov went as far as proclaiming that Russia is “a natural part of the euro-atlantic community” and about possible convergence of Russia with it.
I must say it is a very unexpected turn, if it were to prove a long term Russian strategy in foreign policy. It shows that Russians have substantial hopes for the change in the US-Russian relations. Also the current economic crisis has shown that Russia’s “omnipotence” is highly limited and local.
I think both the US and Russia broke down the existing tensions between the two countries and arrived to the same conclusion that I described in one of my previous blogs. It is very simple: the main concern of the U.S. is that Russia might want to recreate the Russian empire to the extent that it will threaten the U.S. interests again, i.e. it will be potent enough to challenge the U.S. under whatever ideological construct. Russia at the same time sees the recreation of the some type of an empire of “greater Russia” as both vital for Russia’s survival in competition with outside forces and the only project that is coherent and supported by the people of the country.
The mutual understanding therefore may have been found, that Russia is not interested in an empire in exchange for the higher level of integration into the western world. This means surrender of the Russian nationalism, if it signals a long term strategy change.