The tumultuous UPS and downs in the political arena of America again raised the shadow of Russia. Recently, the US presidential Advisor on national security issues, Michael Flynn, resigned. The reason for his departure were contacts with the Russian Ambassador-or rather, that Flynn is not fully informed about their team trump. People are often puzzled by the “skill” of Russian diplomacy, unwittingly linking the difficult situation in which Russia is due to Western sanctions with its military actions in Syria, seeing it as “original way” to ease the pressure on themselves. As wrote Friedrich Engels, “foreign policy, undoubtedly, the strength of Russian tsarism”. The role of the Russian diplomats is far superior to the army’s role, because they the once like the tide extended the borders of Russia.
So where is the “bull” of Russian diplomacy?
For more than thousand years of history of a small Principality, a subordinate Eastern Europe, Russia has become the world’s transcontinental Empire. Relationships and conflicts with other peoples and States, the Russian Federation has accumulated rich diplomatic experience and formed a special diplomatic tradition. To some extent, this diplomatic culture was born in the Russia, which it described by Engels in the article “the Foreign policy of Russian tsarism”: “already strong enough, if necessary, to fight Royal tyranny”, “has a steel restraint and follows the goals”, “wins, and revels in victory; not lost, but is falling down”, by any means changed the Russian Empire to its present power”.
Russians generally have a clear understanding of foreign policy. And high-level diplomats, and the usual diplomats understand that diplomacy is not just a party in the Banquet hall, pompous promises at the negotiating table and convincing and reasoned arguments of the representative of the press service of the foreign Ministry. They are well aware that diplomacy is a tool of implementing foreign policy goals of the state and the protection and promotion of the public interest. It is a constant uncompromising struggle of the mind and “sharp weapons” outside of military action. Proceeding from this understanding, the Russian side emphasizes that the task of diplomacy is not just about writing articles and telegrams in the office, and the deep penetration in all the Affairs of the country. This is a full ownership situation in the host country, the development of broad ties and work aimed at improving the image of Russia.
For Russian diplomacy lies a large and complex strategy. Her work is not only a weighing of the pros and cons at some particular moment, but also long-term comprehensive planning. In the new history of Russia and Japan fought for hegemony in northeast Asia. Having suffered defeat in the Russo-Japanese war, the main goal of Russia’s strategy in East Asia was to send a strong Japan is not “down South” and “up North”. We can say that from 1905 to 1945 Russia rallied and made a rift between China and Japan, and even among the Western powers. Through sophisticated unifying methods in the end Russia sent the Japanese aggression and expansion into China, Southeast Asia and the Pacific. Before the end of the Second world war, the Soviet Union again used by the Yalta agreement, sent troops into North-East Asia, and finally returned the territory lost by Russia after the Russian-Japanese war.
Russian diplomacy has heavy content and light appearance and pragmatism is its center. To protect and promote national interests, Russia could quickly maneuver and is not afraid to change the position, knowing well that this is a necessary step. In such situations, Russia could begin to “dance with wolves”, that is to ally with former enemies. In the early 19th century, Russia was faced with a choice: either to join the fight with France for hegemony in Europe, or to fight with Britain in the Balkans and the middle East over the legacy of the Ottoman Empire. Inherited the throne Alexander I adhered to the policy of war with France and formed the third and fourth anti-French coalition. However, in July 1807, after the defeat of the Russian army at the battle of Friedland’s foreign policy was quickly changed and the Russian Empire signed with France the Treaty of Tilsit. From the anti-French coalition, Russia has moved towards an Alliance with France. At that time, in a letter to mother Alexander I wrote: “the Alliance with Napoleon is only a changed form of struggle with it. Russia needs the Union to get time for a break and to strengthen the military art and force.”
Russian diplomacy never comes to a standstill, and not stubborn. She skillfully throws the enemy into confusion and distracts him with a blow from the rear. In 1856 Russia was defeated in Crimean war. After that, the intention of the then Minister of foreign Affairs Gorchakov, Russia “kept in the background” and avoided attacks in the Eastern direction. She took advantage of the chaos in China caused by the Taiping rebellion and forced China to sign a series of unequal treaties, which metaphorically can be called “to fail in one place, harvest in the other.” Over the past two years of deteriorating relations with the West over the Ukrainian crisis, Russia is not only mired in the Ukrainian problem, and joined in the military action by sending troops to Syria and unleashing there a “second front”. Russia has not only strengthened its influence in the middle East, but also to a certain extent, defeated America.
Engels also said: “Russian diplomacy has always gives all the power to avoid war, considers it a last resort… Russia prefer to pursue their goals through conflict with other major powers and incite these powers to the conflict, benefiting from their hatred.” This shows another feature of Russian diplomacy: Russia knows how to use controversy and a foreign force to strike. She’s holed up in the side as a mediator.
High coherence-making mechanisms of diplomatic solutions, Russia has identified the high efficiency of its diplomatic action. On the basis of the political culture and historical traditions of Russia, the government at the highest level has deep understanding of the international situation and takes an active part in important diplomatic actions. The absolute centre of making diplomatic decisions and national security of Russia during tsarist and Imperial Russia were the king or the Emperor and his advisers, in the days of the USSR, the Politburo, and in modern Russia — the Security Council of the Russian Federation. So in 2014, the decision of the whole complex of action for the invasion of the Crimea was made by a narrow circle of 5-6 people, at the head of which was President Putin.
Russian diplomacy has never been a case of one Ministry, it involves the interrelated diplomatic, informational, military, propaganda and other means. All this will become perfectly clear if we remember Mikhail Fradkov, who worked in the Ministry of foreign economic relations of the USSR, and then became a senior Advisor to the permanent representative of Russia to the UN office and other international organizations in Geneva, representative of Russia at the organisation “the General agreement on tariffs and trade”, and then served as Prime Minister and head of the foreign intelligence Service.
Russian diplomacy skillfully and safely uses people. It requires diplomatic servants impeccable knowledge of the language, culture and traditions of the host country. In politics it encourages bold actions of the diplomat to protect national interests, and requires the volumetric report regardless of the scope of the case. On the other hand, Russia carefully selects in advance and even prepare objects for cooperation in the host country. It is possible to guess from the work done by Russia with the trump. It is possible that after the scandal with Flynn will be followed by yet another sensation that can surprise the whole world.
No doubt, the Russian diplomacy has features, many of which should borrow. Foreign policy of any country arising from the political situation, national character, traditional cultural and geopolitical position of this country. Its formation is influenced by many factors, and Russian diplomacy is no exception. Russia has achieved success in foreign policy, but made obvious mistakes. In the current international situation, Russia does not consider a friend, and most importantly, its economic weakness, not much matches the scope of its diplomacy. This is the weak point of Russia, which may affect the efficiency of Russian diplomacy.
The author is Professor of Research Institute of international issues at Fudan University (Shanghai)