The strategic partnership between Moscow and Beijing towards the end of the post-Cold War — Valdai Club
What is now at stake in Ukraine regarding NATO membership is whether Russia as a nation has the right to guarantee minimum security conditions for its people and territory, writes Charles Pennaforte, a professor at the Federal University of Pelotas (Brazil).
The meeting between Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping in February 2022 must be considered historic from a geopolitical and strategic point of view. The meeting marks the end of the “post-Cold War” period which began to emerge in 1989 with the fall of the so-called Eastern Bloc, and began in earnest in December 1991, with the extinction of Soviet Union. During the 1990s, the world was hegemonized in the midst of what has been called the “end of history”: the supremacy of Western liberalism and globalization, which ultimately led to global economic crises. This historical process will culminate with the financial explosion of 2008.
International relations are now entering a phase that could be described as the “Late Post-Cold War Era”, a time when American supremacy is being overtaken by the country’s new reality: its geopolitical decline. This only confirmed the predictions made by Immanuel Wallerstein and Giovanni Arrighi more than ten years ago. The current configuration of the World Order no longer allows a single nation to decide the entire global agenda, whether in geopolitics or economics.
For neoliberal analysts, the economy is the only dimension that matters. Geopolitics itself is despised in its short-sightedness, which clings firmly to the idea that Western capitalism is always the winner in the clash between socialism and capitalism.
However, fears that Russia will grow stronger as a nation under more capable leadership have taken root in Washington. In recent decades, Russia has recovered economically, socially and militarily, returning as a great power on the world stage. The delay in the “transition to liberal Western capitalism” of Russia and China is a concern for Americans: there will be no “velvet revolutions” until now. Anti-systemic countries like Russia and China, which maintain their own national plans, are the real problem underlying Washington’s belligerent rhetoric by Democrats and Republicans against Beijing and Moscow.
Despite the end of the USSR, Washington ideologues have not abandoned the narrative of a clash between capitalism and socialism, where Russia is presented as the major geopolitical and strategic obstacle facing the United States in Europe. . While the socialist military alliance (Warsaw Pact) was disbanded decades ago, the same did not happen with NATO. Since the 1990s, the organization has increased its influence in Eastern Europe: Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania and Hungary, for example, have become members of the Western military alliance for no apparent reason.
Since 1991, Moscow has never adopted a position that would signal that it could go on the attack against any country in Eastern Europe or elsewhere in the world. Russia’s actions have always been consistent with accepted norms and international law, unlike Washington’s. Nevertheless, successive US administrations have sought to classify Russia as a threat to European or global “security” without giving concrete examples.
The “Russian threat” rhetoric gained prominence after the 2014 “annexation” of Crimea (achieved by plebiscite) following a Western-backed “color revolution” in Kyiv that paved the way for what we see today: the rhetorical possibility of Ukraine’s incorporation into NATO, baselessly compromising Russian security.
From Moscow’s perspective, the Crimean Peninsula was part of Russia until 1956, when it was ceded to Soviet Ukraine. The majority of the population there is ethnically Russian and almost everyone speaks Russian as their first language (one of the first measures of the February 2014 junta was to try to deprive them of their language rights).
NATO’s attempt to advance “towards” Russia by establishing a Ukrainian “bridgehead” has been developing since late 2021 and is facing vigorous opposition from the Kremlin. In the West, the information war waged by the pro-American media is intense. Russia is commonly portrayed as the Cold War-era USSR, threatening the “free world” in the form of democratic Ukraine. Washington’s narrative of an impending “Russian invasion” is a recurring theme in Western media.
What is now at stake for Ukraine regarding NATO membership is whether Russia as a nation has the right to guarantee minimum security conditions for its people and territory (a fundamental principle on which rests the OSCE). Didn’t the United States have a similar argument during the Cuban Missile Crisis? So what is the meaning of NATO’s existence in the 21st century?