Diplomacy of the Moscow province

Being an official of Russian diplomacy becomes a job without perspective. The employer is working very seriously to turn its diplomatic service into a redundancy, and force the army of its members to retrain. Simply, for this occupation, there is less and less work in Russia.

Hundreds of diplomats have been expelled from Westerncountries since Russia attacked Ukraine. But they are just the tip of the iceberg, if you observe Russia’s general withdrawal from the international arena. Somewhere under the coercion of the majority of the “rest of the world”, and somewhere independently, the list of the most important international forums in which Russia no longer exists is expanding.

Russia’s withdrawal from the World Trade Organization and the World Health Organization is currently in the process. They decided it themselves, they estimate that membership brings them more harm than good; they are angry that everyone is turning their backs on them and leaving the premises whenever they try to say something. What they are trying to say is the defense of their war campaign against independent Ukraine, so the majority in world forums doesnot want to listen to war propaganda, or to participate in the illusion that everything in the world is as it should be.

Eight years ago, Russia was expelled from the (then) G8 forum, a group of the most developed countries in the world. They became the “eight” with the entry of Russia in 2008, but its annexation of Crimea and its armed presence in eastern Ukraine led to its exclusion from the club. Even then, they were arrogant in the Kremlin, the membership in the club was like sour grapes, and Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that “such a forum no longer exists and that there is no topic that should be discussed”. The G7, of course, continued to work even harder, and in recent years it has become perhaps the most influential and efficient global group. After the exclusion of Russia, its decisions proved to be crucial for the consolidation of the world economy, for resolving the migrant crisis, and especially for finding effective answers to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Back in March, when Russia was excluded from the Council of Europe, we predicted that this would not be the end, but only the beginning of Russia’s exclusion from world affairs. That’s what happened. Soon after, in April, it was suspendedfrom the UN Human Rights Council, which was decided by 93 countries, including Serbia. The force of its veto in the Security Council is simply ignored, and the most important decisions are removed from this body and transferred to the UN General Assembly, where no one can block the decision.

Russia’s expulsion from the G20 is also on the table, and sofar only Indonesia, which will host the leaders of these countries in November, has resisted. With the voluntary withdrawal from the world organizations for trade and health, Russia is making big steps towards total (self) isolation.

This may suit Russia. For example, since it is no longer in the Council of Europe, it can reinstate the death penalty. The Kremlin may need it to defend its war efforts from defeatists and deserters. If it leaves the World Trade Organization, it does not have to follow the rules on global trade or intellectual property. This probably corresponds to its large business, which the state wants to control, especially today, when it is isolated from world economic trends.

It certainly suits Russia to take the case of Kosovo’s independence as a precedent for its conquest of foreign territories and thus a continuation of a serious violation of international law. Russian leaders have put up an equals sign between Kosovo, Crimea and Donbas countless times, most recently Vladimir Putin in talks with UN Secretary-General Guterres.

As far as Serbia is concerned, this situation alone could be enough to decide on the future relationship with Russia, even if it puts aside the general and rapid Russian withdrawal fromthe international political and economic scene. Serbia and Russia are moving towards the future in opposite directions, moving away faster and faster, and there are almost no common points. Serbia is a small country, and it depends on how much it is connected to the world. Serbia remembers that well from the time when it was on the verge of death due to sanctions and full international isolation, which was also supported by Russia.

It can be successful and prosperous only if it is firmly connected to the main international trends, if it participates in the world economy, politics, sports, health. Today, it does, to the extent that it even creates small, local integrations, such as the Open Balkan, as a way to further accelerate its development.

For such a country, any closeness to the main outlaw among the states is a life risk. To support someone when they are excluded from society, or they are withdrawing from it thinking they are better than the rest, means to support one’s own isolation and contempt. Supporting Russia in what it is doing is not supporting the weak against whom everyone has conspired. Russia is a huge country, it knows very well what it is doing and in its arrogance it is not asking for anyone’s solidarity. If Russia thinks that it is good for it to conquer other people’s countries, to be indifferent to the fact that it is excluded from world organizations, and even withdraws from them, then no one, least of all Serbia, should help Russia in that. Our paths have parted.

As for the “argument” which we have been hearing for decades, that Russia is a friend of Serbia because it defends it in the big world, let’s ask ourselves – where does Russia have the opportunity to speak and to be heard? Nowhere where it is important for Serbia, not even in Moscow, where the scope of Russian diplomacy and Russian influence has been reduced. They are no longer “defending” Kosovo in Moscow but use it as a model for their conquest adventures.