A Russian Perspective on the Last Thirty Years
The third speaker of the panel was H.E. Ilya Subbotin, Minister-Counselor of the Embassy of the Russian Federation in France, on the topic, “What Russia Really Wants in Its Relations with Europe: Peace or War?” He reviewed, on the basis of his decades-long personal experience as a diplomat in Europe during this time, the history of the collapse of the Soviet Union and the subsequent tumultuous transition to the post-Soviet era, all the way up to Russia’s current special military operation in Ukraine.
He pointed out that, contrary to proclamations by President George H.W. Bush that the West had “won” the Cold War, from the Russian perspective, the Cold War was not “lost”, it was President Mikhail Gorbachev who stopped it. Most people in the former Soviet Republics looked forward to a new union with a desire to become a part of the “Western world.” Despite countless efforts by Russian leaders over a 30-year period, particularly President Vladimir Putin, every attempt to permanently improve relations was sabotaged, leading to the uprising on the Maidan, which was actively orchestrated and encouraged by Western politicians and NGOs. After that, as Mrs. Merkel and Mr. Macron have since admitted, the West never had any intention of implementing the Minsk accords. This led to the current situation where, in the opinion of Ambassador Subbotin, “the special military operation became the just and non-alternative step to guarantee Russia’s security and to protect Russian people, whom the Kiev regime wanted to deprive of their language, religion, culture, values.”
Ambassador Subbotin ended his remarks with the statement that “The hegemon who loses its dominance reacts maliciously.” Although the multipolar world is now a fact of life, European nations still have to decide whether they will join with the “new centers of economic growth” of the Global South? “When and if this happens, Russia will be ready for mutually beneficial dialogue of equals, on the basis of our fundamental interests.”
Panel I concluded with presentations by speakers from India, Italy, Germany and France, addressing the potential that exists for European nations to join with the Global South to create a New Paradigm.