December 6th that the website of the Carnegie Moscow Center in Russia published an article entitled “How Biden’s relations with Europe and China will affect Russia”, written by Dmitry Trenin, director of the center. The article believes that Biden’s term of office may be decisive years for Russia’s political transition and its power system transformation. Russia’s response may include acting before the enemy and dealing with its own weaknesses. The question is only whether Russia can successfully complete these tasks before its weaknesses are taken advantage of by others. The full text is excerpted as follows:
Moscow predicts that Joe Biden’s victory will lead to a significant coordination of the United States’ policy towards Russia with its European allies. Biden’s term could be decisive years for Russia’s political transition and its power system shift.
In Biden’s foreign policy, Russia will still be subject to U.S. sanctions and may be subject to new sanctions if necessary. Biden regards Russia as a threat rather than a competitor.
Biden believes that Russia is experiencing a huge recession: its economy is raw material and uncompetitive, its population is growing negatively, and its military is second-rate. Nevertheless, Russia still poses a threat to the United States, because the Kremlin attempts to undermine Western democracy from within: interference in elections, dissemination of fake news and exploitation of the internal contradictions intensified by the United States.
Biden is loyal to the ideal of democratic internationalism. He firmly believes that Russia is destined not to maintain the status quo forever. He is waiting for the day when the Russian people overthrow the regime themselves.
Biden’s White House will curb Russia from geopolitical aspects. The positions of the United States and the European Union on many issues will remain different, but the positions of the two sides against Russia will be significantly closer under Biden. Berlin’s recent tightening of its policy towards Russia (to some extent in Paris) has been a step in this direction. In the near future, the expansion of joint sanctions and the further tightening of restrictions on Russia’s transfer of European technology will come.
The energy sector dealings have been hit hard, and Washington under Biden’s rule is entirely likely to continue to demand that Berlin abandon the second-line project of the North Creek gas pipeline.
Russia is very skeptical about the prospects of its relations with the EU, at least in the short term. In addition, the negotiation process of the peace treaty between Russia and Japan is deadlocked, Moscow’s strategic partner India is close to the United States due to competition with China, and the Gulf countries are still heavily dependent on the military support of the United States. Various factors make Russia likely to fall into the most unfavorable geopolitical situation since the confrontation with the West.
At a time of such internal and external difficulties, the Russian elite is divided into two camps according to the interests of its own group. The first camp includes prestigious supporters of political modernization, institutional liberals and large enterprises with global interests.
They believe that Russia has defended its sovereignty in front of the West. After the arms update, the Russian army can guarantee security. Continuing the current confrontation will not only not bring any benefits to the country, but will also cause economic losses and lead to social dissatisfaction and political instability. From this, they concluded that at least it was time to truce the West, even at the cost of Russia’s concessions in some directions, such as Donbas, Syria, the overseas activity of Russian intelligence agencies and domestic liberalization.
The second camp was led by powerful officials, but many popular elites also joined in. They oppose any even glorious concession. Russia should continue to resist Western pressure and counterattack from time to time. They can’t accept retreating, because it may develop into a complete defeat – the West will feel Moscow’s weakness and keep asking for more demands before Russia completely surrenders.
For this camp, Russia’s greatness has always been based on its ability to mobilize and counter threats from the most powerful world powers. For them, the whole West and the United States in particular are declining, and the emerging new world order is no longer dominated by the West, which will benefit Russia.
At present, President Putin is centered and impartial to the two camps. He follows his own policy, that is, to show his strength softly. On the one hand, he said that it is “imaginable” that the military cooperation between the two countries is at an unprecedented high level of military cooperation between Russia and China. On the other hand, he allowed the release of Michael Calvey, an American investor, who was under house arrest on charges of economic crimes. His arrest was severely criticized by Western businessmen with business interests related to Russia.
The West should not deceive itself: Gorbachev’s shadow did not wander in the Kremlin corridor, nor did there be a second Soviet reform. No matter how hard Biden tries, most Russians are unwilling to admit that the United States is an ally. Nevertheless, the intention of the newly elected president of the United States to strengthen pressure on the Russian leadership on the international arena and within the country cannot be ignored.
Russia’s response may include acting before the enemy and dealing with its own weaknesses. This refers to the replacement of the ruling elite in accordance with the principles of meritocracy and accountability; the modification of domestic policies to make society more united; and the adoption of a new foreign policy strategy based on a broad consensus on national interests. Survival has already put forward all the most important tasks, and the question is only whether Russia can successfully complete these tasks before its weaknesses are taken advantage of by others.