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The Medvedev Doctrine
Dmitry Medvedev gave an extraordinary interview on Russian Channel One over
the weekend. In the course of the interview, Medvedev unveiled a five point
doctrine that would govern Russian foreign policy going forward. It came in the
course of an interviewers questions, but the statement was obviously well
thought out and planned. It is to be seen as a statement of Russian national
policy and is worth presenting here verbatim in translation by the Kremlin:
I will make five principles the foundation for my work in carrying out Russia’s
foreign policy.
First, Russia recognises the primacy of the fundamental principles of
international law, which define the relations between civilised peoples. We will
build our relations with other countries within the framework of these principles
and this concept of international law.
Second, the world should be multi-polar. A single-pole world is unacceptable.
Domination is something we cannot allow. We cannot accept a world order in
which one country makes all the decisions, even as serious and influential a
country as the United States of America. Such a world is unstable and
threatened by conflict.
Third, Russia does not want confrontation with any other country. Russia has no
intention of isolating itself. We will develop friendly relations with Europe, the
United States, and other countries, as much as is possible.
Fourth, protecting the lives and dignity of our citizens, wherever they may be, is
an unquestionable priority for our country. Our foreign policy decisions will be
based on this need. We will also protect the interests of our business community
abroad. It should be clear to all that we will respond to any aggressive acts
committed against us.
Finally, fifth, as is the case of other countries, there are regions in which Russia
has privileged interests. These regions are home to countries with which we
share special historical relations and are bound together as friends and good
neighbours. We will pay particular attention to our work in these regions and build
friendly ties with these countries, our close neighbours. These are the principles I
will follow in carrying out our foreign policy.
As for the future, it depends not only on us but also on our friends and partners in
the international community. They have a choice.
The interviewer then asked for greater definition of the Russian areas of ineteres.
Medvedev replied: “The countries on our borders are priorities, of course, but our
priorities do not end there.”
The most important points to take away from this from our point of view is, first,
that the events in Georgia are not to be seen as isolated, but as part of a general
shift in Russian policy. Second, the Russians are claiming responsibility for
Russian citizens anywhere. This is particularly important in the Baltics, where
Russian citizens constitute substantial minorities, and in Ukraine. The Russians
are making it clear that the treatment of Russians in other regions is a
fundamental interest in Russian foreign policy. Finally, the Russians are
declaring a sphere of interest in the former Soviet Union, and saying that friendly
relations with these countries is essential to Russia. This also means that these
countries may not have the option of pursuing policies that the Russians regard
as unfriendly. Finally, Russian interests are not confined to the former Soviet
Union. That obviously means that they extend to Eastern Europe and in all
likelihood, the Middle East as well.
We see this interview as not quite a formal doctrine, but a clear indication of
Russian thinking. It is clear that the Russians have now publicly announced what
is obvious: Russia has a new foreign policy, and it is both ambitious given
circumstances, will unfold quickly rather than slowly.