February 26, 2023

Not That Way


Not That Way
Russian President Vladimir Putin at a meeting with Federal Chancellor of Germany Olaf Scholz in the Kremlin in Moscow. Presidential Executive Office of Russia, Wikimedia Commons

Russian President Vladimir Putin revoked a 2012 decree that outlined the previous course of Russian foreign policy. 

According to the revoked decree, Russia aimed to "develop friendly relations between states based on equality, respect for their sovereignty and territorial integrity" and to "defend the lack of alternatives to the political and diplomatic settlement of regional conflicts." 

In particular, Russia was supposed to "actively participate in the search for ways to solve the Transnistrian problem based on respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity, and neutral status of the Republic of Moldova." 

Transnistria is an unrecognized state that is officially a part of Moldova but has been occupied by pro-Russian separatist forces and Russian troops since the 1990s, making it a textbook case of a Russia-caused frozen conflict. Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine the "Transnistrian problem" has become a powder keg: the Institute for the Study of War reports that Russia is readying an offensive campaign in Moldova. The new prime minister of Moldova has called for a "demilitarization" of Transnistria.

But that's not all. The 2012 decree also called on Russia to strive for economic integration with European countries. Putin's plan included the conclusion of agreements with the EU on abolishing visas for short-term trips and developing an "energy partnership in order to create a single energy complex."

The revoked decree also suggested a rapprochement with the United States. In particular, Putin wanted Russia to strive for "stable and predictable interaction, based on the principles of equality, non-interference in internal affairs, and respect for mutual interests," promote initiatives to liberalize the visa regime, and "consistently implement" a nuclear arms reduction treaty. This treaty limited the number of Russian and US nuclear warheads, intercontinental ballistic missiles, and bombers, all aimed at ending the arms race.

This is not the first time since the beginning of the war in Ukraine that Putin has changed Russia's strategic plans. On January 25, 2023, Putin amended the Decree on the Basics of State Cultural Policy. According to the new version of that document, Russia no longer unites "East and West" and is not modernizing, but instead protects its "traditional values" and "cultural sovereignty."

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