MEMRI

The 53rd Munich Security Conference, held February 17-19, 2017, was described as a disappointment for the Russian side.[1] Russian Senator Alexey Pushkov said that nothing positive came out of it for improving Russia-NATO relations. Senator Kostantin Kosachev, who is chairman of the Federation Council Foreign Relations Committee, stressed instead that the Western community is not evolving, and that it is pursuing hypocritical foreign relation policies.

The following are reactions to the Munich Security Conference:

(Source: Securityconference.de)

Pushkov’s Twitterstorm

Senator Alexey Pushkov (@Alexey_Pushkov) wrote on his Twitter account:

“Attacks against Russia, organized in Munich by American senators with Pence at the play-off, are a sign that Obama’s spirit is firm in Washington offices.”

(Twitter.com/Alexey_Pushkov, February 19, 2017)

“Despite Pence’s and Merkel’s words regarding Ukraine, the anti-Russia rhetoric considerably diminished in Munich. No criticism regarding Syria whatsoever. That’s new.”

(Twitter.com/Alexey_Pushkov, February 18, 2017)

“Munich 2017 central theme – getting back to the traditional U.S.–Europe alliance. But there will be no positive move towards better [relations] between Russia and NATO.”

(Twitter.com/Alexey_Pushkov, February 18, 2017)

“Impression from Munich: Euro-Atlantic elites are in a state of lethargy. The real threats are substituted with fake ones, mantras regarding values [are given] instead of answers.”

(Twitter.com/Alexey_Pushkov, February 17, 2017)

“The West As The ‘Land of Unlearned Lessons,'” By Senator Konstantin Kosachev – Izvestia.ru, February 19, 2017

In his article, titled “The West As The ‘Land Of Unlearned Lesson,” Senator Kostantin Kosachev, chairman of the Federation Council’s Foreign Affairs Committee, compared the Munich Conference to a Communist Party Congress in the Soviet Union (CPSU) in which the GKChP, the State Committee on the State of Emergency, also known also as the Gang of Eight, had won. The GKChP was a group of eight officials within the Soviet government that on August 19, 2001 attempted a coup against then-Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev. The coup failed, and the provisional government collapsed by August 22, 1991. According to Kosachev, the Western leaders are comparable to the Gang of Eight, since, he said, they are not fighting for values but for power.

Below are excerpts of Kosachev’s article:

Kostantin Kosachev (Source: Izvestia.ru)

“The World Is Changing, But The Western Community… Is Not Evolving”

“The traditional 53rd Munich Security Conference… has produced mixed impressions, although disappointment is, perhaps, the predominant one. Having had the opportunity to watch firsthand the evolution of Munich for over 10 years, the most important thing I see is that there is no evolution. The world is changing, but the Western community (and the Munich Conference, according to the original plan of its organizers, is primarily the analysis of the condition of the West) is not evolving – moreover, it is proud of [not doing so]. This forum reminded me of something like a Communist Party Congress in the Soviet Union [CPSU] where the GKChP ([the State Committee on the State of Emergency, known also as the] Gang of Eight) has won: rousing speeches for show, criticism and irony backstage. On the margins of the conference, I accidentally witnessed a conversation between two other participants of this event – an American and a Brit. And one said heatedly to the other: ‘Everything is going down the drain in Ukraine’. And the other replied, no less sincerely: ‘Yes, and it’s unclear what’s more to blame – the incompetence of the leadership or simply its corruption.’

“Of course, you will not hear anything of the kind in official speeches. And this is, naturally, disappointing. Because we wanted to understand how the West is planning to react to the challenges and changes happening in the world. But the sensation of constant deja-vu, ‘the Land of Unlearned Lessons’, has been with me in Munich for a few years already. ‘The unipolar world that had been proposed after the Cold War did not take place… It is the world in which there is one master, one sovereign. And at the end of the day this is pernicious not only for all those within this system, but also for the sovereign itself because it destroys itself from within… What is happening in today’s world is a consequence of the attempts to introduce precisely this concept into international affairs, the concept of a unipolar world.’ These are the words of Vladimir Putin, pronounced here, in Munich, exactly 10 years ago. At that time, they were interpreted as a challenge thrown to the West. But in fact, these prophetic words referred to the challenge that the West carried inside itself.[2]

“The main subject this time was, of course, the transatlantic relations under the new U.S. administration. As the German press described it, it was the conference ‘concerning one absent person,’ i.e. Donald Trump. One very apt English expression was mentioned: ‘the elephant in the room,’ i.e. a very obvious and embarrassing subject that everybody is aware of but is careful not to mention out loud.

“In this context, the Europeans were waiting for the statement by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence with more than usual interest. He tried his best. In the very first phrases, he declared unwavering commitment to the transatlantic alliance (at this moment, if we continue the analogy with a CPSU congress, the Pravda newspaper would have mentioned ‘thunderous applause, at times approaching the level of ovation’). ‘We will stand with Europe today and every day,’ the vice president assured the audience. But the way the U.S. is going to go about it sounded almost like an ultimatum: ‘As you keep faith with us, we will always keep faith with you.’ What kind of faith-keeping Washington expects from its allies was explained immediately: the Europeans were urged to dip into their pockets and meet their financial commitment to NATO, bringing their budget expenditure up to the desired 2% of their GDP. As a result – just a spatter of applause and clearly diminished enthusiasm. And that was the first keynote address on foreign policy by a high-ranking representative of Trump’s administration abroad…

“Federica Mogherini, high representative of the European Union for foreign affairs, who spoke later, was even so bold as to argue, however mildly, with NATO about the ongoing debate concerning the increase in defense spending. As it turns out, the European Union is not thrilled about the fact that additional European resources may go to NATO’s coffers and not to the EU. So, when it comes to money, it’s every man for himself, apparently…”

“[NATO] Arrogantly [Assumes] The Right To Judge What’s Good For Europe And What’s Not So Good”

“The only subject that produced enthusiasm in the audience was that of Ukraine – the subject that always rallies the Atlanticists. And this, naturally, was the most disappointing part in the American’s speech: the responsibility for implementing the Minsk accords on Ukraine was pinned on Russia again. With this in the background, the mantra about readiness to mend relations with Russia sounds rather unconvincing.

“Still, Ukraine was not ‘on trend’ during the Conference. Although its president really tried to get the audience ‘worked up’ by telling stories about how well he knew what exactly Vladimir Putin thought. Who, according to [Ukrainian President Petro] Poroshenko, ‘hates Ukraine deeply and sincerely. I know that personally’. This was listened to with enthusiasm but quickly forgotten. The Westernists obviously have better fish to fry. At any rate, Mogherini barely mentioned it. Although she did make a Freudian slip, which was mentioned by our Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who quoted the EU representative as saying, literally: “We will wait until Russia concedes… by undertaking something unilaterally and forcing Donbass fighters to take unilateral action”. The underlying message is that there is no need to work with Kiev, Kiev is doing everything right.

“As for the Bundeskanzlerin, she viewed Ukraine mostly in the practical sense: ‘The subject of Ukraine naturally leads to the subject of NATO.’ And without batting an eyelid, she repeated the mantra about how ‘the principle of territorial integrity of a European state was violated for the first time.’ As if there was no Kosovo or the entire ugly story with the dissolution of Yugoslavia, where the EU (and not even the US) played the lead part.

“Answering the Estonian president’s question on ‘how to fight fake news before the important elections this year in Europe’ (the context is easy to read), Angela Merkel immediately generated a piece of classical fake news herself – right there on the stage, in front of the entire audience: she claimed that Russia had openly declared its readiness to use cyber weapons against European states.

“NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who sang yet another hymn to ‘the transatlantic bond,’ declared with great gusto that ‘Europe needs North America and North America needs Europe.’ I asked him a simple and obvious question: how come the secretary general of a military alliance speaks on behalf of the entire Europe?We, Russians, did not entitle him to do so. The answer was expected but unconvincing: ‘NATO acts in the interests of the whole of Europe’. In my opinion, this is the root of all our problems with the alliance. NATO divides security, providing privileged conditions for its members only, arrogantly assuming the right to judge what’s good for Europe and what’s not so good.

“Sergey Lavrov’s speech became a fitting reply to these speculations. He noted that an entire historic era that could be called the post-Cold War order had come to an end. And expressed hope that a choice would be made in favor of building a democratic and fair world order, which could be called a post-West order. These words apparently bruised the feelings of many and were later actively quoted. The West is obviously not ready for the fair ‘post-West’ order.

“I’d like to specially focus on our minister’s phrase about how we will not lift our sanctions against the EU until the Minsk agreements are implemented. I think it is very important that this declaration has been made on such a high level. Because it has to be absolutely transparent: our actions are not just a knee-jerk reaction to the harmful and senseless actions of the West, but are our demand that the Minsk accords be implemented by those who are party to them. And by those who really sabotage them.

“On the whole, Munich has demonstrated that the West has a lot of problems – and a lot more than are being articulated out loud. As the German press has said, Munich has only confirmed the certainty that the Western community is in deep crisis. Alas, nobody searches for the exit from the crisis in an attempt to rethink one’s own role in this world; rather, they are trying to close the ranks and continue the policy that has led to this crisis. Lessons remain unlearned, conclusions – undrawn, which means that the problems will remain and intensify. What a shame.”

 

[1] See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6802, Munich Security Conference – Russian FM Lavrov’s Call For A New World Order To Counter U.S. Influence In Europe, February 24, 2017.

[2] En.kremlin.ru, February 10, 2007.

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