January 16, 2014

Distinctive Features of the Development of the Geopolitical Situation in the World in 2013. Part 1

Major trends in the development of global world processes.

In 2013, the key trend in the development of the geopolitical situation in the world remained formation of multi-polar model of world order with two global centers of power — the United States and China, as well as several centers of super-regional and regional levels, including India, Russia, Brazil, Argentina, Iran and Turkey. This trend had characteristics of both strategic and local scales.

The main such distinctive feature was the relocation of the rivalry between the USA and China to a new, global level — from the Asia-Pacific Region (APR) to greater opposition of the sides in the political and economic spheres in other regions of the world. First of all it refers to Europe, which together with APR, Central Asia, Africa and Latin America becomes a new object of a struggle for influence between the USA and China. In particular, in recent years it appears as follows: on the part of the United States — get more activated measures to create a free trade zone with the European Union and is greater the U.S. military presence in Central and Eastern Europe (including Missile Defence systems deployed by the USA/NATO, U.S. Air Force units are located in Poland through transportation bases are being moved to Romania to support actions of the International Forces in Afghanistan); on the part of China — enhanced credit, investment, trade and economic activities in the European countries, the latter get involved in the new Chinese program for construction of the so-called “economic belt of the Silk Road” (provides for establishing a new level of relations of China with countries of Central Asia, the Caspian and Black Sea regions and Europe).

At the same time, the USA and China have been finding ways to distribute global spheres of influence in the world and opportunities for joint solutions to the most important issues of global and regional security, as well as to deepen cooperation in trade and economic sphere.

In this context, strategically important were the visits of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to China in April 2013, and PRC President, General Secretary of the Communist Party of China Xi Jinping to the USA in June of the same year. The sides agreed to build a new model of USA-China relations on the principles of non-confrontation between the two countries, as well as to strengthen and broaden the dialogue at all levels. Leaders of the United States and China expressed their willingness to strengthen coordination of macroeconomic policies of their countries, to deepen cooperation in the military and security spheres (as the foundations for guaranteeing security in the world and in the region), to introduce the necessary rules of behavior in cyberspace, as well as to establish bilateral cooperation in solving problems of the Korean peninsula and the Middle East. These issues were fleshed out at the 5th meeting of the US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue in July last year in Washington, as well as during the Defence Minister of China Ch.Wanquan's visit to the USA.

Rapprochement between the USA and China contributed to strengthening of strategic security in the world, as well as to balanced development of both, the world economy and national economies of both countries. However, significant problems in US-China relations remain controversies regarding the influence of the parties in the Asia-Pacific region, approaches to solving conflicts in the Middle East, as well as access to markets and resources of Africa and Latin America.

However, both the USA and China have tried as best as possible to realize their own national interests.

The leadership of the USA has concentrated its efforts primarily on maintaining and strengthening the role of the country as a leading center of power in the world. Therefore, the main activity of the U.S. administration is solving economic problems of the country and ensuring its security, as well as strengthening American positions in key regions of the world, first of all in the Asia-Pacific region, Europe and the Middle East.

The consequence of these actions was the resumption of positive dynamics in the development of the American economy, which tends to exit the state protracted recession. This enables Washington to intensify its efforts to achieve its strategic goals in the political and economic spheres.

In particular, defending their interests in the Asia-Pacific region, the United States signed a number of agreements with key countries of the region, including: India — on U.S. investments into the Indian economy and implementation of joint projects in the energy sector (including nuclear energy); with Indonesia — on supplying the country with modern aircrafts; with the Philippines, South Korea and Australia — on strengthening the U.S. military presence at their territories. Besides, negotiations continued between the U.S. and Asia-Pacific countries to establish a trade and economic organization — “Trans-Pacific Partnership”.

A greater attention of the U.S. leadership to the Middle East region was shown by visits of the United States' President Barack Obama (in March 2013 to Israel), of Secretary of State John Kerry and other members of the U.S. administration. The main goal of U.S. Middle East policy remained assistance in solving the Arab-Israeli conflict, in resolving the situation in Egypt, Iraq and around Syria (through the removal of the B. Assad's regime from power).

However, despite the resumption of economic growth in the United States, the leadership of the country continued to reduce defence expenditures and to make appropriate reforms of the Armed Forces. In particular, they continued implementation of the new National Defence Strategy of the United States of America — “Joint Force — 2020”, which provides for optimization of the structure and size of the U.S. Armed Forces within the framework of liquidation and combining operational commandments, reduction of U.S. troops in separate regions of the world (particularly in Afghanistan).

Instead, the United States develop high-tech weapons systems, including creation of an orbital reusable bomber, intercontinental ballistic missiles with conventional warheads, a new aircraft carrier with electromagnetic catapult systems, unmanned aerial vehicles (including the ship-based fighters), combat laser systems, as well as the battlefield robots for various purposes.

The key event in China in 2013 was the first Session of the All-China People's Congresses (Parliament) of the 12th convocation, which summed up the economic achievements of the country, determined prospects for its further development. Was elected a new state leadership of China of the 5th generation headed by the President of the People's Republic — General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China Xi Jinping and Premier of the State Council (government) Li Keqiang.

According to the program installations of the new authorities of the PRC, the main goal of the country's development is implementation of the so -called “Chinese dream”, which provides for national revival of China, its achieving the level of leading countries of the world and decent welfare for Chinese citizens. To do this, China's leadership has focused on the processes of the country's transition from the old economic model — stimulation of Chinese exports and capital construction projects in the country — to new principles of economic management, which are based on the development of the domestic market and high-tech industries. In order to avoid unwanted “overheating” of the national economy, its growth rate was artificially reduced from 12 % to 7.5%.

China's leaders have been actively strengthening international positions of the state, increasing Chinese economic presence in other countries and regions. For example, during the year the total volumes of Chinese investments into economies of the Asia-Pacific region had increased to about 130 billion US dollars. The major Chinese partners in the region remained Australia, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, India, Japan, Laos, South Korea and Brunei. China also had priority in the development of relations with countries of Southeast Asia, particularly India. In 2013, the trade volume between the two countries amounted to 80 billion US dollars and tends to grow. China's economic relations with Central Asia, Africa and Latin America have also deepened.

The most important place in China's foreign trade was given to the European Union, which is second to the USA trading partner of China. In late 2013, Chinese investments in the European economy reached at least 140 billion US dollars, and the volume of bilateral trade amounted to more than 550 billion US dollars.

Besides, China has remained an active participant in major international organizations, including UN, “Big Twenty”, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a group of BRICS, ASEAN, APEC and other intergovernmental organizations.

The priority of China's leadership was to strengthen the country's defence. For the People's Liberation Army of China (PLA) to be able to win in any armed conflict, the Chinese side is technically rearming its Armed Forces and Navy, improves the systems of commandment, reconnaissance and communications, enhances the level of combat training and cares about improving military education and patriotic education of youth.

As part of the national military policy in the Asia–Pacific Region, China has been building up its network of military bases in its South-Eastern regions, strengthening its Navy in order to reliably monitor coastal seas and exits into the Pacific and Indian oceans. Therefore, special attention is paid to the creation of modern aircraft carrier fleet and long-range aviation.

In general, in 2013 for this purpose they allocated 114.3 billion US dollars, which is 10.7% more than in 2012.

http://nnm.me/blogs/bel_pushok/armiya_rossii_protiv_armii_ssh/Development of military-political and security processes in the world is significantly influenced by the nature of relations between the USA/NATO/EU and Russia, which has one of the largest military potentials.

Despite the continued cooperation between the USA/NATO and Russia in key issues of global and European security, as well as positive momentum in the development of economic relations between the European Union and the Russian Federation, in 2013, did not stop the process of winding down the “reset” of relations between the West and Russia. The reason was existing, and in some cases growing contradictions between the parties on some fundamental issues related to their interests, including the USA and NATO's turning to implementing plans to deploy a Missile Defence systems in Europe, worsening of the situation in Syria against the background of different attitudes of Western countries and Russia to the participants of the Syrian conflict, and radicalization of the confrontation between the West and Russia for influence in the post-Soviet space.

The consequence of these processes has become a series of activities for mutual pressure of the USA and Russia, including so-called “legislative wars” between the two countries. For example, the United States adopted the “Magnitskyi Act” which restricts the right of Russians to enter the USA, blocks financial accounts of some Russian officials who are involved in human rights violations in Russia. The US Department of Defence has cancelled the contract on purchase of Russian Mi-17 helicopters for the Armed Forces of Afghanistan, which has led to the Russian Defence Industry's financial losses. Even more resonant was the US President Barack Obama' refusal to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the eve of the Summit of the “Big Eight” in Moscow in September 2013 because of Russia's having granted political asylum to the former employee of the US National Security Agency (E. Snowden). For its part, the leadership of the Russian Federation adopted some legislative acts, thus limiting entry to Russia of some U.S. government officials, whom Moscow has accused of involvement in the violation of the rights of Russian citizens. Besides, in October 2013, on the orders of Vladimir Putin, was liquidated the interagency working group under the President of Russia on cooperation with the USA and NATO on Missile Defence.

No less tough confrontation between Russia and the European Union was caused by the EU “Eastern Partnership” program, which provides for deeper European integration of Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia and Armenia and development of relations between Europe and Belarus.

Taking into consideration the substantial mismatch between the goals of the above-mentioned program and Russia's intentions to restore its influence in the former Soviet Union, in 2013 the Russian leadership activated its measures to counter the “Eastern Partnership”. For this purpose, Russia began a massive campaign of political, economic and informational pressure on Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova and Armenia, restricting access of their products to the Russian market, supporting various pro-Russian organizations and separatist movements that advocate rapprochement with Russia and joining the Customs Union. Russia simultaneously strengthened its pressure on European partners of member countries of the “Eastern Partnership”, primarily Poland and Lithuania.

In contrast to Russia, the EU leadership, NATO and individual European countries have activated their activities in support of the European choice of the CIS countries. Thus, in September 2013 the European Parliament adopted a Resolution “On the Pressure which Russia Makes on the “Eastern Partnership” Member Countries”, where Moscow's policy towards the countries of the former USSR is condemned. A similar statement was also made by NATO. Besides, the European Union expressed its willingness to assist member countries of “Eastern Partnership” and compensate for losses incurred by Russia and has taken some practical steps in this direction. However, under Russian pressure Armenia and Ukraine refused to sign an Association Agreement with the EU. The Armenian side also agreed to join the Customs Union.

By the way, in the difficult situation of relations with the EU due to the above-mentioned problems, the Russian Federation's leadership is trying to prevent a reduction in the volume of bilateral trade with the European Union which remains the largest trading partner of Russia. Strategic nature of relations between the parties was confirmed during the EU-Russia Summit, held in 2013.

As for the development of relations between Russia and China, it is characterized by further deepening cooperation between the parties in the political and economic issues.

This is evidenced by the first official visit of the new PRC's President Xi Jinping to the Russian Federation in March last year, when he met with the Russian Federation's President Vladimir Putin. Leaders of both countries signed a package of agreements on further development of cooperation in the energy and banking spheres, in particular on the construction of a gas pipeline from Russia to China, and on Chinese companies' 2 billion US dollars investment into mineral extraction in Eastern Siberia. Prospects for the development of cooperation between Russia and China in the energy sector was also touched upon at the summit of “Big Twenty” in September 2013 in St. Petersburg. By agreement of the parties, by 2015 the trade turnover between the two countries is planned to have increased to 100 billion US dollars, and by 2020 — up to 200 billion US dollars.

At the same time is deepening cooperation between China and Russia within the framework of international organizations (primarily the UN, BRICS and SCO) on political, economic and security issues. Gets activated the parties' cooperation in military sphere, including, for joint anti-terrorist and peacemaking trainings.

At the same time, the problematic aspects in the relationship of the parties remain Russia's concerns about the growing influence and strengthening of the positions of China in the Far East and Siberian regions of the Russian Federation, as well as the increase of imbalance in the bilateral trade.

As part of the above-mentioned activities, Russia continued to implement geopolitical strategy to revive its role as a major world state.

According to Russian experts, during 2013, Russia had real achievements in this regard and actually returned to the leading centers of power of the world level. This is evidenced by success in creating a Eurasian Union (in terms of having forced Armenia and Kyrgyzstan to join the Customs Union and the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the EU having not been signed), the resumption of the military potential of the Russian Federation and its permanent military presence in the world's oceans, prevention of military intervention of the United States and NATO into the situation in Syria, creation of new transport and energy systems for transporting Russian gas to Europe.

But a major problem for Russia was the deterioration of its economic situation, in particular, further reduction in the rate of economic development of the Russian Federation, decline in production in key sectors of industry and agriculture, decrease in revenues for the state budget. The reason is decrease of the price and demand for Russian energy carriers in Europe (as the main source of export revenues), outflows of capital from Russia, actual curtailing of the development of the country's modernization, corruption and bureaucracy.

Increase in the deficit of the state budget of the Russian Federation makes Russian government cut social spending and funding programs for development of the Russian economy. But at this, the Russian military spendings actually remain unchanged. More so, without taking into account their own financial and economic problems, Russia increases its expenditure for the implementation of its integration projects at former Soviet territories (including at the cost of the reserve fund) having strategic importance for the country.

Prominent role in the global geopolitical processes play some other super-regional and regional countries, primarily India.

During the year, India's leadership was developing relations with the USA, the EU and Russia in the economic and military-technical spheres, trying to achieve military parity with China, as well as to counter threats from Pakistan.

But other countries from BRICS group — Brazil and South Africa — demonstrated relatively low international activity and mainly focused on solving domestic problems — on reducing the rate of development of the Brazilian economy and on the internal conflict in South Africa.

Actions and positions of the above-mentioned countries were also determining the work of leading international organizations, as well as developments in key regions of the world.

Leading international organizations

The UN

During the year, the active work of the UN was aimed at solving global and regional problems in the security sphere. Thus, the main themes of the 68th UN General Assembly was the situation in Syria and Egypt, prevention of armed conflicts in other regions of the world; preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons; reforming the UN Security Council. Incidentally, the latter question members of the UN perceive differently. In particular, Russia opposes the proposal to expand the membership of the Security Council and to restrict the rights of its members.

“Great Twenty”

Efforts of “G-20” were directed primarily at the resumption of positive dynamics of the global and national economies of the member countries. To finding solutions to the above-mentioned issues was dedicated the Summit of “Great Twenty” in September 2013 in St. Petersburg (Russia). The parties expressed their willingness to implement structural reforms of their financial and economic systems, as well as to reduce national deficits of state budgets.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization

Within the framework of the current activities of the SCO, member-countries' special attention was paid to coordination of the directions for its further development. Thus, during the year had been adopted the SCO Development Strategy until 2025, as well as the Action Plan until 2017 to implement the provisions of the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation. Besides, they agreed to establish a SCO Development Bank and to deepen cooperation with partner-countries in the economic, energy, transport and security spheres.

(To be continued).