During an interview in Munich, the foreign minister said as India does not expect Europe to have a view of China identical to its own, the Western world should understand that India cannot have a view of Russia identical to its own.
Is the basis of intensifying global rivalries primarily geopolitical or ideological? The question is necessary to attempt an answer to because it will inform the approach towards establishing the rules of international governance which are clearly crumbling. The trajectory of big power competition, confrontation, and/or conflict will have a profound impact across domains and geographies. While a lot of time and effort by experts around the world has gone into producing high-quality research on the Sino-US strategic competition in recent years, the West in particular has tended to look at the post-Soviet Russian state as a diminished power which is not particularly ideologically committed.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has sparked security concerns across Europe and for its transatlantic ally but neither Brussels nor Washington seems to be any closer to figuring out how to deal with Russia. A recently published monograph by leading analyst Constanze Stelzenmüller brings out this dilemma for the West in sharp relief when she asserts that free democracies must understand they are now facing state rivals who see them as ideological enemies. While it is intuitive for Western establishments to classify the Chinese Communist Party as both an ideological foe and a geopolitical competitor, Russia’s war in Ukraine has resulted in what she terms a cognitive blockage in Western security policy. The ‘realist’ camp among policymakers has been arguing for a while that a compromise must be reached with Moscow as Western governments are struggling with numerous other disruptive challenges, as well as the prospect of a string of elections in the West ~ from Poland in October 2023 to the United States of America in November 2024 ~ all of which appear to be empowering right-of-centre nationalists. So, the argument goes, in this context it would be the responsible approach to push for a negotiated peace deal even if it means Kiev losing significant territory already under Russian occupation.
Yet the calls for negotiation elide a central question: What if President Vladimir Putin and the extant political system in Russia is practically unwilling and ideologically unable to reach such a compromise? A European historian has characterised Russia as being “rooted in a SovietStalinist DNA.” If that is the ideological underpinning of a nationalist Russia, Mr Putin will not back off. Those who support negotiations and look at the West-Russia face off as one brought about by the decline of Russia and its strategic weight alone perhaps misjudge what a German commentator has termed the “categorical nature of this (Russia’s) hostility.”
This approach, he adds, has deep roots in the Soviet Union and has been demonstrated time and again by the Kremlin. That would imply the West is confronting a different challenge, one that requires putting Moscow back in the enemy category in terms of security policy