GP Short Notes

GP Short Notes # 726, 20 August 2023

Moscow conference on international security
Rishika Yadav

What happened?
On 15 August, Russia's President Vladimir Putin addressed the 11th Moscow Conference on International Security, attributing global security challenges to Western geopolitical recklessness and neocolonialism. It was held at Patriot Military Park in the Kubinka suburb of Moscow from 12 August to 16 August. Putin highlighted the simmering tensions worldwide and emphasized that these issues primarily arise from the west's selfish actions and geopolitical decisions. According to Putin: "Hotbeds of tensions are simmering" in various parts of the globe. "And although each has its own unique security challenges, all of them effectively originate from the west’s geopolitical recklessness and selfish, neocolonial actions."

This significant event, themed "Realities of Global Security in a Multipolar World," witnessed a dynamic platform for 800 delegates across 76 countries and representatives of eight international organizations, to engage in comprehensive discussions. With a focus on critical regions and defence collaboration, the conference’s plenary sessions delved into themes ranging from the Middle East and the African Continent to the Asia-Pacific region. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation quoted Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, “The very possibility of the dominance of one country or even a group of states is disappearing into oblivion. When EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell tries to present Europe as a blooming “garden,” with nothing but a wild “jungle” around it that needs to be improved to become “civilized,” this only shows once again that this mentality, which allowed the West to rule the world for centuries, has led to a dead end.”

What is the background?
First, background to the conference. Initiated by the Russian Ministry of Defence, this annual conference offers a platform for open exchanges on critical global and regional security matters. In May 2012, the inaugural event convened, centering on security dynamics in Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa. Additionally, it scrutinized the roles of NATO and the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) in upholding stability. The 1943 Moscow Conference, wherein the USA, UK, USSR, and China deliberated the post-war global arrangement and the formation of the UN, served as a source of inspiration for the conference's inception. The conference has evolved into a vital forum that nurtures collaborative approaches to multifaceted security challenges. Over time, its scope expanded to encompass diverse subjects like cyber threats, terrorism, arms control, and military diplomacy.

Second, Putin's strategic security discourse. Organizing the conference in the middle of the Ukraine war, reflects Putin's strategic timing to amplify Russia's perspective on global security. Amid tensions and conflicts, Putin claims to assert a multipolar world order, counter Western influence, and garner support for his stance on Ukraine. The conference tacitly showcased the West's perceived geopolitical recklessness, neocolonialism, and interference, aligning with Putin's goal to challenge Western dominance. Notably, by highlighting Ukraine's conflict and emphasizing China's Non-Western partnership, Putin subtly reinforced a narrative of global power diversification. The conference highlighted Russia's broader objective of reshaping international security narratives, fostering cooperation on its terms, and asserting its role in crafting a global security paradigm.

Third, endorsing Russia China’s non-aligned security collaboration. China's engagement at the conference underscores its commitment to non-aligned, non-confrontational cooperation with Russia. Chinese State Councilor Li Shangfu's speech emphasized their military partnership as a model that doesn't target any third party. Li said: “The comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination for a new era has maintained steady development, as the two countries' military relations have set a model in non-alignment, non-confrontational cooperation that does not target any third party.” Amid western media scrutiny, China-Russia cooperation challenges the western led world order perception. In the context of Ukraine, China-Russia exchanges promote peace talks, showcasing China's measured stance.

What does it mean?
First, the strategic security discourse of Russia is not reducing anytime soon. The forum became a platform for Russia to assert its viewpoint on the Ukraine conflict. China's involvement in the conference adds further significance by reinforcing the narrative of non-Western perspectives on global conflicts. The conference shares objectives with forums like the recent Shangri-La Dialogue, from 02 June to 04 June. While the Shangri-La Dialogue gathers various stakeholders, including Western powers, to address security concerns, the Moscow Conference distinctively emphasized non-western perspectives and it aims to provide a counter-narrative to Western-dominated security discourse.

Second, rising collaboration among non-western countries. The participation of high-level delegates from countries like India, China, and Turkey underscores the rising relevance of the conference, particularly in Central Asia, Eurasia, Africa, and the Global South. Their engagement signifies the conference's growing importance as a platform for non-western countries to address global security concerns and advocate for a multipolar world order. With discussions encompassing regions crucial to their interests, these powerful countries recognize the conference's potential to shape security dynamics beyond traditional western-centric narratives, strengthening collaboration among diverse countries and emphasizing the significance of their perspectives in shaping the evolving global security landscape.

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