February 14, 2020

Putin wants “new Yalta” to divide world into recognized regions with regional hegemons


Seventy-five years ago this week, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin met in Yalta to agree on the division of post-World War II Europe. Now, Vladimir Putin wants to assemble the presidents of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council to do something even more sweeping: to agree on those for what might be called the post-post-Cold War world.

Mr. Putin’s call at a meeting in Jerusalem on January 23 for such a meeting has drawn support only from France, China and the United Nations. The United States and the United Kingdom have not yet signaled how they will respond. But speculation about what such a meeting might lead to is rife, especially in Moscow.

Dmitry Yevstafyev, a specialist on international relations at Moscow’s Higher School of Economics (known by the Russian-based acronym as MGIMO), provides a useful early take on what the meeting might focus on and what its results might be for Russia and for the other World War II victor-powers (eurasia.expert/novaya-yalta-vladimira-putina-strategicheskaya-perspektiva-dlya-evrazii/).

Moscow is more prepared for such a dialogue than anyone else. The scholar says it has a ready-made package of proposals and has recognized more fully than anyone else that the pre-existing international order has collapsed and that a new order needs to be put in place lest the world collapse into “a period of struggle without rules” as Donald Trump seems to want.

According to Mr. Yevstafyev, Moscow believes that “the transition to multi-polarity can be accomplished in an essentially more ‘peaceful’ and administered way” if the key players can agree to relatively transparent “rules of the game.” Russia has taken the lead in this, the analyst continues, and understands what is needed.

The issue, “of course,” he writes, isn’t about some “ ‘division of the world’ which is now impossible either in colonial or neo-colonial formats.” Rather, the MGIMO scholar argues, the Russian vision is to have regions replace globalization and regional hegemons replace any unipolar world led by the United States.

He suggests there are three key principles involved. First, “a ‘new Yalta’ will be more the product of geo-economics than geopolitics.” That means that the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council can only propose divisions and hierarchies: other countries will have to be involved in this process as well.

Second, “a stable system of transition to a multi-polar world cannot but include the new centers of economic and military-political influence that have full state sovereignty.” Any such dialogue will include countries like India, Iran, Argentina, Indonesia, Egypt, Vietnam, Turkey, Japan, Poland and Germany. Others may be represented by proxies.

And third, such dialogue must be directed at the formation of regions in place of globalization. Eurasia and the Russia-led Eurasian Economic Community will be one of these. To the extent that it is, efforts by countries to pursue “multi-vector” foreign policies will be counter-productive and harmful.

In conclusion, Mr. Yevstafyev says, the original Yalta included “a generation of victors.” Now, he argues, Russia “at a minimum” must form another such generation – one confident that it consists of winners too.