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social sciences

Tense Tango Around Multipolarity

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Today, as we witness a serious schism between the Russian Federation on one side and the EU and the USA on the other, the question regarding the Kremlin`s possible allies has become particularly important.

Elena Pavlova is a senior researcher at the University of Tartu’s Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies whose research interests include contemporary political philosophy, theory or international relations, domestic politics and foreign policy of Latin American countries. In her most recently published article[1] she analyses the prospects for political cooperation between Russia and Latin America.

The article focuses on the attitudes in Latin American countries toward Russia’s newly assertive foreign policies since the annexation of Crimea. Without trying to analyse the Ukrainian events as such, this article describes the concerns of Latin American intellectual and political elites regarding the consequences of the crisis for the structure of the contemporary international system, which is seen as multipolar.

Possible partnerships

The potential decline of multipolarity is presented in the Latin American debate as a serious problem, Pavlova noted, and both the West and Russia are blamed for this trend. “Coupled with other issues, these disagreements may have a detrimental effect on Russia’s relations with Latin American states,” she said.

Pavlova noted that the problem must be divided into two parts: firstly, we need to understand which countries might be interested in this partnership; secondly, which resources can be activated by Russia in order to support it. “Western normative hegemony and its weaker economic position relative to the EU and the USA significantly complicate all efforts of Russia to create a sort of coalition in its confrontation with the West. Thus, my article concentrates on a possible partnership between Russia and some Latin American countries with a particular focus on the most popular strategic alterity – a world order presented in the framework of multipolarity,“ she explained.

According to her research, Pavlova concluded that the rapprochement between Russia and some Latin American countries, which can be noted in the last decade, lacks a solid base. This is a momentary convergence, Pavlova said, which is based on the common idea of the injustice of the prevailing world order led by the USA rather than on a shared view of a future system of international relations. “The example of official discourse about multipolarity and its possible implications demonstrates a weakness of this rapprochement,“ she described.

In Pavlova’s opinion, this conclusion can be useful in understanding the key points of Russia’s strategy in its search for a diversification of international partners. “It is important to understand, that, generally speaking, Russia does not work towards a long-term cooperation, being content with the declarative character of the relationship,“ she noted.

For these observations, Pavlova made interviews in Bolivia. Based on these interviews Pavlova has written five articles – three in Russian and two in English. Besides multipolarity she and Viatcheslav Morozov analyse and compare indigeneity and subaltern subjectivity in decolonial discourses[2].

Mutual misunderstanding

Now, Pavlova is working on the project “Russian National Identity in a Comparative Context: Towards an Intersubjective Identity Database”, where she will use her results to clarify the Russian understanding of its identity and of appropriate behaviour within the international system.

While writing this article, she had an interesting experience to demonstrate how a momentary interest – in this case, the opposition to US leadership in world politics – can obscure the absence of a common position with regards to the system of international relations. “Moreover, it seems that this mutual misunderstanding, along with an absolute ignorance of one another, can help to support the relationship, and I plan to write a new article about it,“ Pavlova underlined.

[1]https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10758216.2017.1291307

[2]https://link.springer.com/article/10.1057%2Fs41268-016-0076-7

Written by Marii Kangur

This article was funded by the European Regional Development Fund through Estonian Research Council.

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