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Russkiy Mir: The Role of Russian Orthodox Church in Cultural Diplomacy

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Russkiy Mir has its origins from the medieval Russian times but in post soviet era, it has its rebirth from the early 90s but post the annexation of Crimea it was brought to the spotlight as Putin referred to it as “reunifying Russia” and its policy of “near-abroad”. There are cultural and religious commonalities of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian foreign policy on the concept of ‘Near abroad’ as the Church and the state considers that current region of CIS and Slavic countries as the areas of primary interests. Russia’s cultural and religious diplomacy is under the control of the state as in it remains fairly autonomous institutional if it plays in favour of Russia’s national interest. Patriarch Cyril and Putin also share the common ideas of unipolarity in the Global context and they are against the idea of American domination as they primarily see it as a threat to global peace and stability. The Church’s interest against the americanisation or westernization of the world is due to the usage of American values like individuality, lack of family values and its sphere of influence of the same concerns it and it propagates an alliance of “traditional civilization” against westernization which ultimately favours Russia in the International arena.

The first sphere of influence that the Russian Orthodox Church can have is on the Balkan countries and the next sphere of influence can be with Muslim neighbourhood with its alliance of muftiates, especially in the international context where Muslims are seen as the enemy by the west and often ‘otherize’ and associate everyone with Islamic terrorism. Russia’s image for harmony between both the communities need to be portrayed and this can be only put in term of aspirational alliances of Muslim nations against the western civilizations.

The paper tries to be realistic in understanding the limitations of such diplomacy when it comes to praxis of the same. The cultural or diplomacy of Russia has brought out a newer dimension in the Russian policy that has been long suppressed during the Soviet era and despite of the suppression of religion by the state in the Soviet Union the large number of population in the CIS seems to have practice it in certain ways that reflects on the pew research survey of 2017 on CIS countries and Orthodox Christianity. The Orthodox Christian Church remains to one of the back-bone of the policy of Russkiy Mir and its advocacies have paradoxes when it comes to state’s understanding of it and the Church’s understanding but there seem to be an understanding between the both on the importance of Russia’s Identity, Language and Culture and bringing it out in the world Arena.

“the universal nature of the Christian teaching makes us interested in various spheres of the life of society. The Church acts on equal footing as a subject of relations with different states and with international public and political organizations. We defend our values and promote the rights and interests of our congregations”  – Patriarch Cyril


Understanding Russkiy Mir

The world Russkiy Mir plays an important role in Russia’s cultural diplomacy and it has its roots from the 11th century “Kherson and Russian World”. Although ideas like the russkii dukh – Russian Spirit, russki ideia– Russian idea, russkaia dusha– Russian soul were historically present. (Laruelle, 2015) Putin established the Russiy Mir foundation in 2007 for universalizing and promoting Russian Knowledge, Language and Culture and in the year 2009 the Russian Orthodox Church officially joined the foundation to construct the world view of the Russkiy Mir.Usually when we talk about the Russian World we usually refer roughly to the prime area of CIS states but more specifically to Ukraine, Belarus and sometimes Maldova and Kazakhstan. According to Patriarch Cyril Russkiy Mir States comprises of usage and development of Russian language, identity, culture and he is also of the opinion that the Nation-state boundary are the modern construct and the ideas of the Church predates all the existing boundaries today and that it transcends present boundaries and that it is a “project of integration”.

The construction of the the idea of Russkiy Mir is rather a biological one and writers world. Petr Shchedrovitsky, Efim Ostrovsky, Valery Tishkov, Vitaly Skrinnik, Tatiana Poloskova and Natalia   Narochnickaja are among the foremost authors of this concept post the disintegration of the USSR in the 90s. The idea of Russkiy Mir is also evolved at the World Russian National Council(WRNC) in 1993 under the theme of consolidating societies post the disintegration of the Soviet Union. Russkiy Mir in the present times is seen as an instrument of cultural and soft power through ‘compariots’ or the Russian Disapora and the 2001 speech of Putin reminds of the aspirational view on the concept of Russian world that claims the responsibility of Russians abroad and the same can be seen in National Security Strategy of 2015.

Russian Orthodox Church in Foreign Policy

After the disintegration of the USSR the Church found a new phase where it was able to interact with the stae and not be suppressed as before in the Soviet times. There were situations that claims how the Patriarch of Moscow was solely limited to it. Patriarch Cyril headed the Russian Orthodox Church’s Foreign Policy in 2009, immediately he visited Ukraine and Kazakhstan and there had been issues over the limitations of Russian Orthodox Church and Cyril emphasized on the borders are new creations and those should not be limited to the brotherhood of the orthodox Church and emphasizes on Russkiy Mir with former soviet republic flags on his throne and aims of integration of people and states. Few of the noted moments between the Russian Orthodox Churches diplomacy is recognizing good relations with the Ukrainian and Georgian Orthodox Churches and it had good relations with all the big leaders in the Ukraine and even supported the Georgian claims to the South Ossetia. Krelim’s support towards the Russian Orthodox Church is due to its similar policies in the neighbourhood and certainly ROC’s importance in the region is recognized by the Russian government despite minor discrepancies that is ROC usually accused of as well.


The ROC has given Russia a certain platform to regain its past glory by looking at imaginations of states from the traditional Russian Identity and the Russian Empire that is one the constant loggerheads with civilizational superiority than the West and the same has been implemented in certain ways today. The successes of its diplomacy in Ukrain and Georgia speaks on length for it and it provided the post Soviet Russia a banner to countries in the CIS under one banner. ROC and its connections with other national and local churches has beneficial for Russian strategies and in turn the Russian state despite its secular tendecies the ROC has challenged its seperation of powers especially in terms of soft power and diplomacy.

Conclusion

The cultural diplomacy can only boast many successes but few important amongst those would be promoting the so called expansionist policy of Russia through cultural and historical background that has been backed by the Russian Orthodox Church that has a significant diaspora abroad that reasonates to it. The Orthodox Church in collaboration with the Department of external Church Relations (DECR) has relations with Inter-governmental and International organizations as well that promotes the Russian interest in the Global Arena and the observer status at the OIC and extending relations with Iran is one of the vital success that gives it a doorway to the Islamic countries as the scope of United States and other western countries in matters to such cooperation is very limited.

The role of Orthodox Church in slavic nations and the CIS is incredible although though one of the major limitation for the Church is to construct a proper identity for itself that does not always reflect the ideals of Krelim that creates trust deficit especially when there are situations like Crimean annexation. Although there are various limitations for cultural diplomacy and the ideas of Russkiy Mir but it can be attributed in creation of alternative world that does not have to be necessarily dominated by the west and its hegemonic ideals. There are other important criticisms for the same Russkiy Mir that it propagates the idea of Russians being superior to everyone and creates enthno-nationalist claims that possibly seem redudant in the current International context that was obsessed with Nation-State boundaries and ideals.

Cultural Diplomacy and religion involved in Foreign Policy has been used since histories to establish relations with other states and to make alliances but in this neo-liberal world, Russia seems to have gone to the roots of civilizations and religion and want to tackle the western hegemony through it. Although the Russian World’s appeal is weaker outside the CIS, post the disintegration of the Soviet Union enhancing such alternative practices in Russian Foreign Policy indeed despite all its limitations.

Bio: Bhagya Raj is a post-graduate student of International Relations at Jawaharlal Nehru University, India.

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Can diplomats be proactive online without becoming “wolf-warrior”?

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Photo: camilo jimenez/Unsplash

With the increasingly important digital world, traditional, offline tools and approaches are becoming less and less sufficient and effective in shaping the public conversation, influencing the global or national public opinion, and obtaining trust.

As a part of reform that veers towards revolution in a domain well known for its adherence to norms, today’s diplomacy is also experiencing functional changes in terms of what strategic communications means in the digital environment. As we are witnessing lately, the emerging diplomatic virtual presence has become a significant part of public diplomacy and policy.

Today, the undeniable power of social media lies in its fundamental role of linking the public and political sphere as part of a worldwide conversation. It is notable that the general reason behind its effectiveness and the steep rise of adoption lie in the power of this environment of building strong brands and credibility. This certainly is today’s Zeitgeist and involves the systematic cultivation of the attempt to influence the public opinion with every single action and to boost social legitimacy, in a more and more interconnected world that seeks to turn individual gestures and actions into symbols.

However, does this fully explain why social media is becoming an emerging playground for sarcasm and open battlefield for a digital war of accusations and threats? 

One of founders of today’s Twiplomacy phenomenon is the former US president, Donald Trump, who proved to be, for better or worse, one of the most vigorous and captivating presences on social media among world leaders.  What is striking in this is the gradual increase in the adoption of the new diplomatic style, known as the Wolf-warrior approach, which gained prominence in the context of the COVID-19 crisis and Chinese presence in the social media. This approach, which originated from a Chinese patriotic movie, in which the main mission of the warrior is fighting back foreigners, is characterized by a more aggressive and assertive style of conducting foreign policy.

It is argued by some that this approach is not being adopted in order to display authoritarian tendencies and to project but rather it is more often adopted by Chinese diplomats as a defense response to the repeated attacks and accusations. It seemed to be the straw that broke the camel’s back. Drastic times call for drastic measures?

Either way, the US-China digital war leads to questioning the adequate behavioral approaches to addressing the continuous global power competition and diplomatic tensions. Assertive and offensive or proactive? What makes a wolf-warrior and where do we draw the line?

When credibility and national identity are under threat, assertive approaches seem to come in handy when defending one’s stance and strengthening confidence. We know it very well from the Chinese ancient wisdom: project strength when you are weak. This general principle applies to political stances and authority in advancing agendas, as well as preserving independence in hegemonic environments. However, when increased assertiveness is taken down the wrong road, the world ends up being divided into conflicting blocs. While proactiveness is certainly the adequate modus operandi to overcome such blockages and prevent escalating disputes from bouncing back, the line is certainly crossed when it reaches bullying and propaganda levels.

What is the smart and well-balanced dose of actions when interests and sovereignty come first? Assertiveness or smart power? 

Proactiveness and high reliance on social media can also be channeled into advancing one’s objectives and consolidating strategic gains through smart use of power or through soft power. One of the best examples of this strategy is India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who’s presence on Twitter proves that, most of the time, the tone defines the effectiveness of the message and that balance is to be preferred to unhinged assertiveness. In the end, the art of persuasion is not limited to the right choice of words and actions here and now but also includes the challenging task of building trust in the long run. 

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China-India Vaccine Diplomacy – Will Pakistan Learn From Neighbors?

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Modern infectious diseases and viruses have stimulated anew war and conflict along with poverty, counterurbanization (deurbanization), and climate change that need freshassessment in international relation arena. International cooperation for objective of infectiousdisease control goes back to atleast the 14th century, and to the later date of 1851, when Europe held its first International Sanitary Conference for multilateral cooperation to prevent the spread of cholera and yellow fever. Beginning in 2000, vaccine became cohesive as key tools in helping developing countries to achieve MDGs. In 2007, foreign ministers from seven countries issued the landmark “Oslo Ministerial Declaration” that formally linked health to foreign policy. Yet,in the past, there have been very few moments, as CoVID19, that assimilated such a huge number and variety of the world’s state actors at diplomatic front. The coronavirus vaccine – one of the world’s most in-demand commodities – has become a new currency for “Vaccine Diplomacy”. Vaccine diplomacy is not only the use of vaccine to increase diplomatic relationship and influence other countries but also, from a strategic perspective, vaccine access opens the door to expand long-term health security provisions.

China, one of the first countries to make a diplomatic vaccine push, promised to help developed and developing countries.Since the start of the pandemic, China used medical supplies to pursue foreign policy gains, sent masks and protective equipment to hard-hit territories,at present distributing vaccine.The vaccine diplomacy is a expansion of China’s endeavors to frame itself as the solution to the pandemic. Since the early days of the CoVID19 outbreak, China’s President Xi Jinping has focused on publicizing Chinese efforts  to supply medical aid worldwide. China’s planeloads of CoVID19 donations including hospital gowns, nasal swabs, and surgical masks etc. – were regardedoptimistically, especially in developing countries. In addition, Chinese government sent experts to support medical personnel across the continent.Correspondingly, the Serum Institute of India, one of the world’s largest vaccine producers,produced Covishield, developed by Oxford-AstraZeneca. India’s Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar said it plans to supply CoVID19 vaccine to 49 countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean. So far, the country has been distributed 22.9 million doses under its “Vaccine Maitri” (Vaccine Friendship)initiative. Mr. Jaishankar also announced a gift of 2 lakh vaccine doses for about 90,000 U.N. peacekeepers serving in numerous hotspots around the world.

The vaccine race has become a new domain for China-India strategic competition. China’s whole state apparatus is behind the drive and Beijing sprang into action “Health Silk Road” through the cooperation channels of its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Moritz Rudolf (German Institute for International and Security Affairs) says, “Health was one of the many subtopics of the BRI. With the pandemic, it has become the main focus”. On the other hand, C. Raja Mohan, (Director, Institute of South Asian Studies at the National University of Singapore) said, “There is no way India can match China on a lot of issues, but in this particular case, because of India’s pharmaceutical infrastructure, India is in a good position”.In reality, both countries arecontemplating vaccine diplomacy as a matter of national pride and soft-power projection.

In Pakistan, the power of vaccine diplomacy has been underexplored despite the successful facts that included promoting peace between the Cold War powers of the 1950s and 1960s.The historical and modern-day track records of vaccine diplomacy are impressive. But, it has not yet led to an overarching framework for its expanded role in foreign policy of Pakistan. At the moment, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination, and National Command and Operation Center should establish vaccine diplomacy framework and play an imperative role in promoting international health agreements between Pakistan and governments throughout the world. Vaccine diplomacy will not only enhance Pakistan’s reputation in international arena but also blunt the propaganda of anti-Pakistan forces within boarder and abroad. Consequently, vaccine diplomacy activities should integrated into the foreign policy of Pakistan.

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Sail Away Tomorrow: Where Should We Sail?

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On January 1, 2021, we all met both the new year and the new, third decade of the 20th century. This is a good reason to think not only about possible events in world politics over the next twelve months, but also about the likely trends in the development of the international system over the next ten years.

First, let’s get ourselves oriented and learn the terrain. Humanity today is going through a painful period of deglobalisation that affects all of us together and each one of us individually. This is not just about the immediate social or economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Alarming failures in the usual mechanisms for the growth of interconnectedness and interdependence of countries and peoples did not begin yesterday, and they will not end tomorrow.

One can argue for a long time about how inevitable deglobalisation was and, if not, who exactly is responsible for its arrival. In any case, the global financial crisis of 2008–2009 and the post-crisis period of 2010–2013 showed that for the time being, it is possible to forget about the linear and especially about the exponential development of globalisation. After this crisis, some parameters of human connectivity (international trade, the volume of foreign direct investment) barely recovered until the middle of the last decade, and then collapsed again. In today’s world, centrifugal processes have already accumulated tremendous inertia, and it would be naive to expect that any single event, even a very important one such as the Joe Biden administration coming to power in the United States or the creation of the Comprehensive Regional Economic Partnership in Asia, are able to stop them, much less to reverse them. It’s time to come to terms with the fact, that the on-going deglobalisation is serious and will last a long time.

Serious and for a long time, but not forever, right? Antiglobalists everywhere in the world have convincingly won their last battle, but in the common war against globalisation they will not win, in any event. The Hegelian “mole of history” continues its tireless work; albeit slowly and stumbling, albeit with stops and even retreats, but humanity is moving forward along the thorny path to future unity.

The world is being pushed in this direction by two powerful factors, which have become stronger over the years, no matter what the current anti-globalisation crusaders may assert. First, the pressure of common problems increasingly faces everyone in the world—from climate change to the threat of new pandemics, which urgently require the unification of global society in the interest of common survival. The self-preservation instinct of the human population must somehow manifest itself—at least, we would very much like to hope so. Second, technological progress is accelerating, creating new opportunities for remote communications of all kinds from year to year. The physical space and resource potential of the planet are shrinking, the opportunities for geographically distributed models of work, study and socialisation are expanding, and Napoleon’s old aphorism about geography as a destiny is increasingly losing its former axiomaticity.

Sooner or later, the world will somehow return to globalisation. Or rather, sooner or later, the world will create a new model of globalisation, which will be as different from the old model at the beginning of the century, as the modern Formula 1 car is incomparable to the first Ford Model T.

But all the same—sooner or later? When exactly will Globalisation 2.0 start? This is not an idle question, because the fate of entire generations depends on the answer to it. And not only generations of politicians, but hundreds of millions or even billions of people entering adulthood today, in five, ten or twenty years from now. What prospects are looming before these people? What professional and personal trajectories can they expect? In what value systems will they have to exist?

If we start from the experience of the already distant crisis of 2008-2009, assuming that we are on the way towards the lowest point of a new “de-globalisation stage” of the globalisation cycle, then we can relatively confidently predict another change of world development by the middle of this decade. If an additional adjustment is made for the more complex nature of the global cataclysms of 2020 -2021, then the moment the vector changes will have to be shifted at least another two to three years into the future—closer to the end of third decade of the 21st century, which has only just begun.

Let’s try to start from this rather conventional chronology. According to it, humanity has five to eight years in reserve to prepare a new historical cycle of globalisation. Over these years, it is necessary not only to minimise the negative consequences of the (temporary) de-globalisation which is unfolding today, but also to formulate and agree on a global strategy for a new globalisation cycle. Well, and in some details—to radically update the political elites in most countries of the world, to learn how to successfully resist the right and left-wing populists, to work out modern algorithms of multilateral approaches to international problems and prevent a world war, a global ecological catastrophe, a new catastrophic pandemic or other annoying delays during the transition to these algorithms.

The tasks are serious, but within the framework of ten years of world history, they are quite manageable. The problem of smoothing out the inevitable negative effects of de-globalisation could already be tackled by such world leaders as Joseph Biden, Josep Borrell and Antonio Guterres. None of them mentally belong entirely to the 21st century; they all grew up and began their ascent to political heights in the Cold War era. None of them looks like a revolutionary, a prophet, or even a visionary. But, as they say, “the old horse will not spoil the furrow.”

Will even the most powerful representatives of the outgoing generation of politicians be able to successfully resist the challenges of populism, protectionism and regionalism? Are they capable of channelling the colossal energy of the collapse of the old international system in a peaceful way? The positive answers to these questions are far from obvious, but there are chances of success. If the numerous Bidens and Borrels, who still have considerable opportunities, turn out to be at the height of the tasks set before them by history, then they will somehow save humanity from some of the unpleasant surprises in the next few years. If they fail, the international system will face new difficult challenges.

But the preparation of a new globalisation mega-project is clearly beyond the power of the outgoing generation of political leaders, whether it’s Biden or Borrell. There are generals created for defensive action, and there are generals born for offensive operations. There are managers who manage companies from their offices, and there are entrepreneurs who create the companies of the future in their garages. Already in the second half of this decade, when the vector of development changes, the world will need fresh ideas, which it will be useless to search for in the political experience of the last century.

In a slightly different set of circumstances, the natural world leaders of a new generation could be French President Emmanuel Macron or, say, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. But they still are no leaders of the global revolution. Perhaps they were just unlucky, or they entered politics at the wrong time. Certain hopes for the beginning of the renewal can be associated with the upcoming parliamentary elections in Germany this fall. But, most likely, the time for a new global agenda has not yet come—the world is still at the end of an old era, and not at the start of a new one.

Let’s not forget that the main issues of the new agenda will be fundamentally different not only from the current issues, but also from the Globalisation 1.0 era. Which ones—we can only guess so far. For example, if the victorious march of globalisation at the beginning of the century was marked by the strengthening of the conditional East, the weakening of the conditional West, then the fundamental issue of Globalisation 2.0 will most likely be the issue of a large-scale redistribution of resources between North and South in favour of the latter.

If the “old” globalisation was associated with accelerated economic growth and with an increase in personal and public consumption, then in the course of the “new” globalisation, most likely, the main criterion for success will be to ensure the transition to sustainable development models, both at the national and global levels.

If the global processes at the beginning of the century reflected a universal public demand for freedom, then in the second quarter of the century we will most likely see a more articulated and more insistent demand for justice.

In all likelihood, many familiar algorithms of foreign policy will also change. Major international organisations, hopefully, will still remain by the end of the 20s. In any event, a significant part of international activity will not boil around or within rigid bureaucratised institutions, but around specific problems: political, social, environmental and so on. To solve these specific problems, mobile situational coalitions of participants will be formed—and not only by nation-states, but also with the involvement of the private sector, civil society institutions, and other participants in international affairs. Old hierarchies will gradually lose their meaning, the terms “superpower” and even “great power” will increasingly be perceived as archaic, with no sense in modern life.

What does all this mean for Russia? In a sense, Moscow was very lucky: the crisis of the globalisation model at the beginning of the century actually nullified numerous Russian failures on the path towards integrating the country into the global economic and political system. Yes, Russian foreign policy over the past thirty years has made some mistakes and miscalculations, but what can we say about it now, if there is practically nowhere to integrate?

But it is unlikely that Russian politicians should rejoice in the epoch of deglobalisation that has come and stand in solidarity with the triumphant antiglobalists. Yes, Russian foreign policy feels comfortable amid the conditions of de-globalisation; properly in these conditions, the comparative advantages of Russia’s foreign policy style are most clearly manifested and its disadvantages are least noticeable. But if the assumption about the probable timing of the next change in the vector of world development is in principle correct, and if globalisation in its new embodiment returns to the world on the horizon of five to eight years, then even today Russia needs to actively prepare for this change.

The country must be able to demonstrate results that exceed those in its attempts to integrate into Globalisation 1.0 at the beginning of the century, especially considering that Globalisation 2.0 will inevitably turn out to be a more complex, more contradictory, and in some ways even more competitive environment than its previous incarnation.

Russia, like the other countries of the world, has several years to rebuild its system of foreign policy institutions, master the new rules of multilateral diplomacy, get rid of “bad assets” and find

its place in the coming world order. As the current Russian president likes to repeat on other occasions, “there is no time for reflection”.

From our partner RIAC

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