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12 May, 2010 16:09

Media leaks Russia’s foreign policy plans

The Russian edition of Newsweek magazine has reported that Russia is planning to move toward a more pragmatic foreign policy in dealing with Western countries.

The magazine claims it has obtained a confidential Foreign Ministry report outlining Moscow's new doctrine on foreign policy. The report supposedly lists countries with which Russia plans to develop closer ties to secure future investment. Proposed projects may include purchasing enterprises in the Baltic region and Central Asia. Energy cooperation with African states such as Nigeria, Senegal, Angola and South Africa is also reportedly on the agenda.

The proposed doctrine will also seek to limit NATO expansion and reconfigure the alliance’s relations with Russia. In addition, the document allegedly includes the subject of Russia-U.S. relations, and expresses concerns over growing polarization among the American society caused by the warming of relations between the two nations.

Newsweek further claims that the report mentions membership in the World Trade Organisation and the easing of EU visa restrictions as being among Russia’s priorities.

A preliminary draft of the document is said to have been already approved by President Dmitry Medvedev.

Russian analysts, however, say there is not much new about the document.

“I don’t find a lot of new issues in these documents if you take them one by one,” MacArthur Foundation political analyst Mikhail Troitsky told RT. “All these are the ones the Foreign Ministry has been long working on. The new thing is that all these goals are geared toward one – that is, modernization. Russia is positioning itself as a modernizing country. This is new. One more new thing is that the initiative is put forward by the Foreign Ministry, which is traditionally a force for conservation in Russia.”

The document reportedly says Russia's key interest is rapid modernization. But Russia’s strive for innovative economic policy development has been natural for some time now, says Victoria Panova, a political analyst at the Moscow University of International Relations. The right conditions make this policy now more pronounced, Panova explains.

“It’s more favorable in terms of former foes that are now taking a more favorable stance toward Russia, and it’s no longer fashionable to exploit Russia as an enemy,” she said. “And of course the [financial] crisis pushes Russia toward more economic cooperation.”

Authors are sensationalists – FM Lavrov

Commenting on the issue, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov – who was claimed by the article to be one of the authors of the doctrine – said the magazine and the article’s author are just masters of sensationalism.

“On a number of occasions, I have marked this magazine and this author as masters of causing a big stir,” he said.

“If those who make up such stories had carefully read the address by the Russian President to the Federal Assembly, where he set tasks to increase the effectiveness of external policy factors so that they would help in the development of the country, there would probably be a lot less sensationalism [in the article],” he told RT. He underlined that Foreign Ministry activities are “a planned work performed under the direct instruction of the president.”