The year 2022 has already amazed the world with protests and riots in Kazakhstan, the consequences of which will affect other countries. But other important political events await us in the new year. So, immediately after the holidays, negotiations between Russia, the United States and NATO on security issues in Europe start. “Gazeta.Ru” learned from Russian international experts what should be followed in the new year in the first place.
Kazakhstan in trend
The new year began with protests in Kazakhstan, unexpected for outside observers, after a sharp increase in prices for liquefied gas. And although the outcome of events there has not yet been decided, it is already clear that they will have a great impact on both Central Asia and Russia.
Head of the Central Asia and Kazakhstan Department of the Institute of CIS Countries Andrei Grozin in a conversation with Gazeta.Ru said that Moscow would strive to further strengthen its positions in the region, which is indirectly indicated by the dispatch of the CSTO peacekeeping contingent to the rebellious republic.
“Firstly, Kazakhstan is a bridge connecting Russia with the rest of the Central Asian states. In addition, this country is another gateway to China and other sta-tes in the south. The threat to get a second Ukraine in the person of Kazakhstan means to be cut off from all these opportunities.
Kazakhstan, as a friendly country, is simply necessary to ensure the national interests of Russia – even more so than Ukraine. Therefore, the Kremlin will fight for him to the last, ”the expert is sure. Among other factors, due to which Kazakhstan will remain in the center of Moscow’s attention in 2022, Grozin highlighted its economic interests: the sale of products of industrial enterprises, the location of the Baikonur cosmodrome and a number of test sites there.
“And the main thing. There are 3 million ethnic Russians living in Kazakhstan. And if you count with other minorities who associate themselves with Russia – and that’s all 4. To abandon them is unjustified either from a moral and ethical point of view, or from any other point of view, ”the expert said.
At the same time, Grozin does not believe that the example of the use of the CSTO forces in Kazakhstan can be repeated in the near future, since “these events are unique, and more like the” Arab spring “of 2011 than the peaceful protests in Belarus.”
Director of the MGIMO European Information Center Nikolai Topornin, in a conversation with Gazeta.Ru, highlighted other political trends in Russia’s neighbors, which should be closely monitored in 2022. In particular, we are talking about Ukraine and Belarus.
“This, of course, is Donbass and the settlement of the situation there. The main thing is whether a direct dialogue between Putin and Zelensky is possible, because both seem to be ready for this.
And, of course, a referendum on amendments to the Constitution of Belarus in February. It is beneficial for Russia as an ally that peace and tranquility reign there, and the country does not develop, ”the MGIMO expert expressed hope.
Topornin is confident that the coronavirus pandemic and the spread of the omicron strain will continue to have a huge impact around the world both on the life of people (very likely new lockdowns) and on the economy. In addition, the analyst separately recalled the long-awaited registration of the Sputnik V vaccine at WHO .
“This complete disgrace should end in 2022. Because of this, Russians have big problems with moving around the world, ”the expert concluded.
The United States will make concessions to Russia in Ukraine
The relationship in the US-China-Russia triangle in 2022 will continue to be key to global security. And it seems that the parties finally understood the need for clear rules for a new big game – already in January Moscow and Washington will hold talks on security guarantees.
In one of the points of the draft discussion, Russia de-manded to exclude Ukraine from joining NATO . Leading researcher at the Center for Security Studies, Konstantin Blokhin, in a conversation with Gazeta.Ru, said that it is the US-Russia relationship that will become key for world politics in 2022.
“I think that our task is to slow down the confrontation with the United States, although many things from the list of the Russian Foreign Ministry are impracticable. First of all, two things will be discussed at the talks – strategic stability and the Ukrainian theme. The main question is whether Washington can compromise with Russia. After the collapse of the USSR, the West spent hundreds of billions of dollars on strengthening NATO’s infrastructure, the United States withdrew from the ABM and INF Treaty, changed regimes friendly to us to hostile ones, and tried to shake the situation in Russia from within. And is the US ready to stop now? I think it’s unlikely. But there are points of contact, ”the expert said. Blokhin hopes for compromises on the issue of nuclear weapons, based on the fact that US President Biden has already prolonged the START III treaty. Moreover, the analyst does not rule out concessions from Washington on Ukraine.
“The US is not interested in Ukraine’s integration into NATO. CIA Director William Burns wrote about this in his book: NATO’s main task is not enlargement, but consolidation. After all, the United States has already calculated the cost of integrating new members into the alliance, including Ukraine, and it is colossal, ”the political scientist recalled.
Blokhin noted that Ukraine’s accession to NATO increases the risk of Western countries’ involvement in a conflict with Russia: “They will not start World War III because of Ukraine, the Americans do not need it in NATO. So some agreements may well be reached regarding the non-admission of Ukraine to NATO. But the United States will cooperate with Ukraine anyway ”.
Biden’s fate will be decided
Vladimir Vasiliev, chief researcher at the Institute of the USA and Canada of the Russian Academy of Sciences, in a conversation with Gazeta.Ru noted that Russian-American relations are “very mobile,” which was confirmed by Biden’s first year in power.
“I have a feeling that his administration is disposed towards a certain positive in relations with Russia – to prevent aggravation and bring them to a burning phase. Biden is in a difficult position: also due to the economic crisis, this is a very important factor. On the other hand, in modern conditions there is a growing danger of some random uncontrollable events that could complicate relations between our countries.
So the minimum task for the United States in Russia is to maintain the state of “no peace, no war.” And the maximum task is to improve relations, to achieve their greater predictability and normalization. Although this does not exclude elements of the Cold War. But it is quite possible that there will be elements of a permanent constructive dialogue, including at the highest level, “- said Vasiliev.
The expert recalled the main domestic political event of the United States in 2022 – the midterm congressional elections in November, which, according to him, will be decisive for the Biden administration. Against this background, it is simply unprofitable for Washington to aggravate foreign policy.
“These elections could determine the fate of Biden – whether he will be a lame duck or will receive a mandate to continue his policies. Today the United States has enough internal problems, and it is unprofitable to load the ship of American statehood with tense relations with Russia and China, ”Vasiliev said.
Will China be given a year of silence
However, not all experts see bright prospects in relations between the United States and China in 2022.
For example , Deputy Director of IMEMO RAN Alexander Lomanov, in an interview with Gazeta.Ru, said that much will depend on the reaction to the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of China in October, as a result of which its leader Xi Jinping will most likely remain for a third term. “It can be assumed that ideological pressure on Beijing will increase before the congress. The theses are the same – allegedly China is heading towards totalitarianism, accusations of human rights violations.
This entire campaign will peak at the end of the year, when the American media, politicians and think tanks come crashing down with criticism of China, its political system, foreign policy, the situation in Xinjiang, Taiwan, Tibet.
This will greatly hinder constructive dialogue between the United States and China. And Beijing will react to this even more painfully, ”he predicts.
In the PRC, however, they are interested in making the year of the congress “a year of lull in domestic politics.” In particular, six months before the congress, any discussion of controversial topics in economics and politics will be closed there, “only correct articles and books” will be published. This is done to make the CCP look like a legitimate ruling force in the eyes of all the people.
At the same time, Lomanov does not believe that China and the United States have fallen out forever, and admits a decrease in tension in bilateral relations as early as 2023.
However, Taiwan will remain in 2022 a place around which different scenarios can unfold. So, if his administration and the United States continue to speculate on the topic of the island’s independence, then “China will react demonstratively, violently, with a great deal of nationalism.”
Iran and Saudi Arabia will decide the fate of the Middle East
Andrei Chuprygin, senior lecturer at the HSE School of Oriental Studies, urged the readers of Gazeta.Ru to observe the situation in Libya, Tunisia and Yemen.
“The first two countries are litmus paper, the situation in them will affect the entire Mediterranean region, including the East, which is of most interest to Russia.
What will happen in Libya after the cancellation of the presidential elections in 2021 is the most intriguing question, and there are two options: either again the war, or the current government of Abdel Dbeida will remain for 2-3 years to calmly prepare the next elections. It is impossible to predict, ”the expert says.
The further development of the situation in Yemen will depend on negotiations between Saudi Arabia and Iran, which is believed to support the Houthi rebels.
“These negotiations will affect the political construct of the Middle East for the next 10-20 years,” Chuprygin is sure.
Vladimir Sazhin, senior researcher at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, in a conversation with Gazeta.Ru, shared his hopes for a breakthrough in 2022 on the issue of restoring the Iranian nuclear deal, which is already being negotiated.
“It is already very difficult for Iran to live under American sanctions, and therefore it will make some kind of compromise. And President Biden is also very interested in the nuclear deal, because it was still in his program, ”the expert concludes.