Geopolitics is seemingly influencing Russia’s approach to many issues ranging from its own approach in politics, its own economic design and cultural attitudes. But for it to lead the expected transformational multipolar arrangement, Russia has to open up and create pathways that portray cultural integration, intensify people-to-people interactions and organize more cultural activities with participation of ‘friendly countries’ desperately seeking alternatives to the United States-controlled “rules-based order” and prefer to be guided by their own interests and those of their partners especially this year and farther beyond.
Russia has taken over the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and BRICS (an informal association of emerging economies) chairmanship this 2024. It is a clear and an immense distinctive opportunity to work thoroughly its backyard, rope in unreservedly new BRICS members and the majority of African and Asian countries that constitute the Global South. At least, a casual review of 2023 has shown a number of impressive results, reminiscent of Soviet’s slogan of international solidarity and friendship. This is but one of several successful examples. From last year, external countries have started experiencing, these at a scale never seen since Soviet’s collapse.
Nevertheless, Asia and African governments and their people have long recognized the importance of ending western and the United States hegemony. These countries are looking at how and to what extent China, India and Russia could lead them along the pathway towards the newfoundland, be able to take the necessary consistent steps to attain especially economic sovereignty in this 21st century.
In order to ensure these multipolar initiatives, participating in aspects of multidimensional cultural activities and operating interactive cultural partnership could be the surest preliminary approach. Of course, Asia and Africa are not the same today as it was 30 years ago. Russia has considerably changed beyond recognition. But what are necessary at this stage of global development is frequent interaction, exchange of technological ideas as basis for promoting trade and as basis for developing skills on modern technology for the vibrant youth, this current growing generation. Obviously, promoting technical development to change the impoverished life of the local population.
Following always these principles in foreign relations, and within the context external policies are necessary as geopolitical situation is increasingly changing. Countries are in search for latest attractive opportunities, approach them with open hearts. Therefore, building trust as the fundamental principle and be able to move on from culture to up-to-date business and economic directions in inter-state relationships.
The BRICS+ Fashion week held in November is one classical gathering that could be broadened to include many African and Asian countries, not necessarily being members of BRICS. It could be a new platform on collaboration between Russian and international designers. Many are, of course, ready to cooperate and promote their brands in cooperation with Russia and other BRICS members. The fashion week visited by about 1.5 mln was held in Moscow in 2022.
Thus within the framework, the designers and brands creating unique collections of clothing and accessories will be introduced the professional audience and the general public. The participants have the unique opportunity to discuss prospective directions for cooperation, it supports the development of entrepreneurship, the use of modern technologies and the preservation of culture in the sphere of fashion.
As clearly noted by the Deputy Mayor Natalya Sergunina over 30 countries participated, representing the Middle East, Southeast Asia, Latin America, Africa and the CIS. “It gives an additional impetus to the development of the fashion market and help foster cooperation with friendly regions,” and would further unite the industry’s leading professionals, clothing industry specialists, bloggers, instructors and young fashion designers from all parts of the world.
At the same time, Russia has open up more to the Africa and Asia as the inaugural cybersport 2024 Games of the Future will be hosted by the Russian city of Kazan between February 21 and March 3, while 2024 BRICS Games will take place between June 12 and 23. The 2024 BRICS Games are expected to feature about 25 different sports. Russian Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin has already emphasized that the BRICS Games are not meant to rival any other competitions and will not interfere with the international sports calendar.
Travel and tourism as an increasingly huge business could be explored for African elites and the middle-class which twice the total population of Russia, and constitutes 40% of 1.4 billion population in Africa. With the current evolving political and cultural processes, the West and Europe still have a strong classical grip on Africa, influencing everything first from culture and tourism, and moving onwards to politics and economics. Perhaps, Russia has to play the strategic openness and welcome African travellers, tourists and visitors. Closing strictly the iron or steel doors, in these critical times, might negatively distract Asia’s and Africa’s support for Russia.
With the emerging new global order, so also there are related indispensable challenges. Russia has to escape contributing towards its own “cancel culture” in the end, it must learn to engage by adopting strategic approach and in multifaceted ways, mostly for building preliminary trust, in social and cultural dimensions. Russia has to open up outwardly if it really wanted to significantly escape marginalization on the global stage.
By the way, President Vladimir Putin, along the line argued during Valdai discussions, the support for multipolar order largely exists in the Global South. The Soviet Union played its part those Cold War years, now it is the turn of Russia to secure balance of interests. The basic meaning and implications of the term “multipolar world” often used these days, should not be seen as abstract theory but rather be pursued, in practical terms, to lead the new world order. The United States and Europe’s “based rules and regulations” will never end.
It is worth to say that these questions as discussed above should not be over-emphasized. These are basic requirements as critical importance in the creative evolutionary process of the multipolar world. Our estimation is for Russia to demonstrate practical steps to enforce the driving forces, (the diversity in culture, fashion, sports and education) in uniting the youth along the pathways of multipolarism. We should be reminded, in an ultimate conclusion, by the collective declarations on cultural and people-to-people cooperation for promoting of a more representative, fairer international order and reformed multilateral system.