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Explained: How Russia sees the current World Order ?

Aryan Maurya

Explained How Russia sees the current World Order
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World order can be seen in terms of the hierarchies and positions of states in the international system. Every state can have its own view of the world order according to its power, resources and aspirations. Generally, states accept the world order defined by the hegemonic power (state at the top of the hierarchy) in the system as their own view.

The smaller and weaker states may consider more than one state as a superpower or major power in the system, of course, with due regard to the hegemonic superpower. Major powers in the international system assert and try to define the world order in their own way by replacing the existing superpower. But unless they do not have the power to do so, they try to deny the mandate of an inferior position to them by the existing superpower in the hierarchy of the international system. Therefore, they adopt a different view of the world order other than the hegemonic one and try to make it accepted throughout the system through propaganda and deeds. Russia's view of the world order is full of hope and agony. It looks at it not to appreciate the existing status quo but to change it.
Given the vastness of Russia which stretches across 11 time zones, from the European fortress region of Kaliningrad, all the way to the Bering Strait, Russia can never be obsolete in international politics. Though it understands very well that it is not at par with the USA other than militarily but time and again it never fails to assert that it has not become irrelevant in the world order. And one day it will reclaim its position.

He who controls the past controls the future.

Russians are very keen to give a try to George Orwell’s dictum that, ‘he who controls the past controls the future. That is why Russia has rewritten its history multiple times. Russia's present is very much shaped by its past. Or we can say that they change their past to make it look compatible with the present. Whatever the case, Russia's view of world order is heavily dependent on its past experiences with other countries.

Russian President Vladimir Putin talks to officers as he attends Russia’s large-scale Center-2015 military exercises at Donguzsky Range September 19, 2015 in Orenburg, Russia. (Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images)

Russia was destined to be surrounded by mighty powers who not only threatened but also impressed it, whose cultural, military, economic and technological strengths were to be resisted as well as mimicked. Russians took lessons from the past that when Russia is weakened by internal division, it falls prey to outside forces. Even today Russia follows the centuries old practice of presenting the world as a hostile place full of enemies ready to attack Russia if it lowers its guard.

The Russian nation is a patchwork. It is shaped more from without than from within. Because of its past experiences Russia sees outside countries as a threat. It considers the outside environment as hostile and this projection of hostility helps it to consolidate the nation domestically and declare opposition as anti-national.

After the disintegration of the USSR in 1991, the existing bipolar world order became unipolar for a brief period of time and then changed to multipolar and also multilateral. In the period of unipolarity Russia was one among the comity of nations under the hegemonic world order led by the USA. But after 2000 when Putin reached at the helm of affairs of Russia, he began to assert and show that he (synonymous with his country as Putin uses his own personality to project the identity of Russia) is primus inter pares i.e., first among equals only to project himself as not less to anyone.

Russia wants to dominate the world order or at least to see the world order as bipolar as it was in the Soviet period but it could not ignore the rise of China, India, and the EU. The expected bipolarity is on the way to becoming but it is not as it was before, there are more players on the board with their own aspirations. Anyway, the USA enjoys overwhelming support from a number of countries including the EU and Japan and the relationship between Russia and China has reached a new height in the wake of growing tension between Beijing and Washington.

Russia sees European countries as well as the European Union with hostility not only because of their closeness with the USA but also because of its past experiences. Though European countries rely heavily on Russia for their energy requirements and Russia also earns good foreign currency, one thing to be kept in mind is that energy trade between Russia and European countries is both an asset as well as a liability for both depending on who uses it effectively and smartly. India is still trying to balance or to say, it is following the Nehruvian principle of non-Alignment or what has been newly devised multi-alignment.

Russia is trying hard for a New World Order

Russia is trying to shape a new world order which is of Russia, by Russia, and for Russia. It annexed Crimea in 2014 and in February 2022 launched a war against Ukraine. This shows Russia’s intent of great power projection. It is trying to demonstrate what it is strong at i.e., military power projection, and is looking for partners and allies where its power is limited. China is one such partner. Militarily Russia is already powerful, but what puts it in trouble is its economy. So, on the economic aspect, it is relying on China and to some extent India also (defence market). Russia sees India as a great partner but because of its multi-alignment policy and Quad engagement, it doesn't find it completely on its side in critical times as much as it finds China.

The Ukraine Crisis is the result of Putin's unilateral attempt to change the current global order, believe many experts.

Russia understands very well that it needs partners or friends to help it to dominate the world order, but it is also not unaware of the fact that the present friend might become a new challenger for it. In international relations, you cannot be sure even about your friends and that is the situation with the Russia - China relationship. So, Russia sees China as the new Constantinople, at once the object of jealousy, fear, greed, and a desperate need for an alliance against what it sees as a hostile west and the tumultuous Islam in the south. Therefore, when it is allowing some space for others to manoeuvre at the same time it is keen to avoid too much dependence. It is a tight rope walk for Russia.

Since, Russia is so obsessed with the past which it finds very real given the frequent rewriting of history in search of a common identity, even now it sees everyone around it as a predator. Therefore, Russia aspires to be the most dominant player in the world order to make herself believe that now ‘no one can harm it’.

The Author is an MA student at the School of International Studies, JNU. The opinion expressed is personal.

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