The current political situation in Europe is changing slowly but the results of these changes will affect everyone. It appears that Europe has finally considered the benefits of better relations with Russia.
Yesterday, two landmark events took place in Europe: the referendum in Italy and the “rerun” of the second round of the Austrian presidential elections. Judging by the reaction of Russian social networks and the expert community, the results of these events have been interpreted with the following score: 1:1, i.e., our candidate in Austria lost, but the referendum in Italy turned out in our favor.
I propose to, as quickly as possible, decisively get rid of this point of view on events, because such very much resembles the picture of the world drawn by, for example, British propaganda.
We can healthily laugh at British experts’ theories that Putin won Brexit, ensured Donald Trump’s victory, and that he only busies himself with leading the election campaigns across Europe from Moldova to France. But this is only healthy as long as we laugh at it. When we start, without irony, to be serious and look for pro-Russian candidates somewhere and follow elections in other countries with the same emotions with which we follow the Russian national football team, then we are sick.
We’ve lived our lives down the road from an entire country that suffers from such a disease. It’s name is Ukraine. They also think that all elections in the world are about them. I will endlessly repeat this thesis: there are no pro-Russian candidates in the rest of the world. There aren’t, and there won’t be. There are candidates whose interests coincide to one extent or another with ours, or don’t. That’s it. Their defeats or victories are their results, not ours.
A victory for Russia is when the residents of European countries envy us because we have such a president as Putin, and they really do envy us, which is periodically confirmed by European polls.
Russia’s victory also lies in European voters, following Russia’s actions, demanding friendship and cooperation with Russia from their politicians and demanding that they act like Russia in, for example, Syria. Russia’s victory lies in European politicians seeing that promoting cooperation with Russia in an electoral campaign is advantageous, fashionable, and brings in votes. From this point of view, everything is in order with us, and things will be even better.
We must look at the situation in Austria and the situation in Italy from a long-term perspective, and then it will become clear that there is no future for the European politics that we’ve gotten used to. Several years ago, it was impossible to imagine that a populist party standing for abolishing the euro and possible leaving the EU could have real chances of coming to power in Italy. And yet this is precisely what is happening now.
In Austria, even though the far-right candidate lost, the establishment politicians have been compelled to change their views on many key issues simply for the sake of preserving at least some kind of political future for themselves. Look at what is happening in France. Even if Marine Le Pen doesn’t win there – even though she does have some chance – the presidential post will be taken by Francois Fillon who, despite being an establishment politician, will be nothing like Hollande in terms of relations with Russia, Brussels, and the US.
A very interesting phenomenon could take place in Europe in 2017. Those politicians and political forces who were already in power in the early 2000’s could return to power in France and, maybe, in Germany.
A significant part of Russian audiences began to be increasingly interested in foreign policy during the Ukrainian crisis. Many of them simply do not understand and cannot understand that Putin quite successfully and productively worked with the then leaders of France and Germany as well as other European countries. Then 2013-2014 became a kind of peak of the domination of Russophobic fanatics in global politics. However, they were not so much Russophobes as they were globalists who simply hated any attempt at defending national interests, no matter whether from the Russians, Chinese, or Europeans. This era of abnormality in global politics is ending right before our very eyes. This does not mean that we will be friends with everyone, but it does mean that we will have someone to negotiate with on a pragmatic level.
This also means that all of our neighbors who have gotten used to exchanging their Russophobia for financial and diplomatic support will finally be left without money. The more forward-thinking politicians of these countries are already trying to find some ways to restore or maintain economic ties with Russia, and their emissaries are wandering like ghosts throughout Moscow’s high offices.
As I’ve already said, one has to earn and deserve “Russian occupation,” and economic cooperation even more so. One has to not only deserve it, but pay for it. We need to learn to pragmatically and skeptically treat assurances of eternal friendship and sympathy for Russia. In the coming years, we will hear these assurance many times, including from those who until recently built their political careers on fighting against Russia.