Multipolar world after 15 years of pretensions... Op-Ed by Victor Pelin

“Currently, for the first time in the confrontation between Russia and the West, it was reached a situation in which the Republic of Moldova is invoked as a victim of Russia’s pretensions. This involves opportunities and dangers for the Republic of Moldova, which should be put on a scale so as to optimize security policies...”

Pretentions supplemented with ultimatums

It has been exactly 15 years since President Vladimir Putin pleaded in favor of a multipolar world at the Munich conference of February 10, 2007. Pretensions to transform Russia into one of the poles of attraction of the multipolar world have been exhibited since then. To achieve this goal, Russia: triggered the Russia-Georgian war of 2008; annexed Crimea in 2014, provoking later the war in Donbas; engaged Russian soldiers and mercenaries in the conflicts in Syria, Libya and a series of Central African countries. For President Putin’s pretensions to be taken seriously, recently Russia concentrated massive military troops on the border with Ukraine and demanded that the West should return to the status quo ante 1997 or military and technical-military measures will follow. This is all what the technology for asserting itself as a pole of the multipolar world consisted of. Evidently, this is impossible without immoderate propagandistic campaigns.   

The West responded diplomatically, noting that the pretensions are exaggerated and unacceptable. In this connection, concerted examples were given of the way in which Russia actually destroyed the architecture of regional security in Europe, invoking the illegal military presence of this in Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. The solution proposed by the collective West to Russia is to relax the situation on the border with Ukraine and to engage in a diplomatic process to discuss and solve the existing security problems. In such circumstances, there is the opinion that by inviting Russia to a dialogue and negotiations, the West wants to offer President Putin the opportunity of honorably overcoming the difficult situation in which he found himself. However, it would be naive to think that President Putin will allow to be treated like an ordinary politician who resorts to bluffs. So, we have to only wait for the military and technical-military threats to be carried out.

It’s true that for now the threats remain in suspense. The  deputy chairman of the Security Council of Russia Dmitry Medvedev informed public opinion that: “The placing of Russian rockets in Cuba and Venezuela is impossible as this is against the national interests of the given states, which make effort to break isolation, to restore normal relations with the U.S. So, it is impossible to found military bases there, as it was done in the Soviet period, when we had common military infrastructure based on common ideology with a number of countries”.

Who can claim status of pole of multipolar world?

When the security problems are considered, they should normally start from the precondition that there is particular architecture of international institutions designed to harmonize the relations between nations. No one offers pole of attraction certificates to some of the states that want to create spheres of influence using other states. If cooperation between states is considered advantageous to them, they decide by themselves, without being forced by anyone, whether to associate themselves and cooperate economically, militarily, culturally or not. This is the approach shown by the West following the recent dispute with Russia. But the latter resorts to “little green men” for annexing territories of neighboring countries, with the imperialist adventurers using such arguments as without  Kiev, Russia is nothing else by Moscovia.

In fact, the promoters of the idea of multipolar world invoke three factors for a state to claim the status of pole of attraction in such a world – at economic, military, political, cultural levels (soft power). This way, the military potentials of the U.S., Russia and China are comparable for serving as references points for ensuring a balance of power in the word. If we refer to economic potential, things stand entirely differently. The geopolitical confrontations are usually long-lasting and involve extraordinary economic, technological and human efforts. The West’s response to Russia’s ultimate pretensions was based on the invoked argument, to all appearances.


It should be noted that Russia’s claim on the status of pole of the multipolar world was formulated in 2007, after Vladimir Putin had ruled for seven years. In that period, Russia’s GDP grew from $260 billion to $1.3 trillion and continued to grow impetuously until 2013, when the GDP was $2.3 trillion. That was the highest level attained before the annexation of Crimea and the provocation of the war in Donbas. The sanctions imposed by the West against Russia because this undermined the security architecture in Europe had a considerable impact, the GDP declining to $1.7 trillion in 2021. In fact, Russia’s economy the past 20 years was at the level of that of Brazil whose population is similar to Russia’s. Evidently, in such circumstances, Russia’s pretension to be a pole of the multipolar world has no reasonable justification.

The third factor – soft power – cannot also support Russia’s pretension to be a pole of the multipolar world. After announcing its pretension, Russia has constantly slid towards an authoritarian, oligarchic and extremely corrupt political regime. Instead of being a pole of attraction, Russia became an interventionist that uses the military force to suppress citizens’ protests in the sphere of influence in favor of authoritarian regimes, such as those in Belarus and Kazakhstan.

Given the aforementioned, we can reach the conclusion that the real challenges to the security of Russia come not from the West, but from inside. Another danger that is authentic, according to renowned experts, is the fact that the world actually already became bipolar, while Russia is not among the two poles and this implies major risks for Russia. How can this be explained? Russia annexes territories and incites separatism in the states in which it wants to keep its sphere of influence, but voluntarily yields huge territories to China, or leases them out for being explored. Territorial pretensions towards Russia were formulated by the Chinese leaders not only once: “Russia gained control over too much land... Over 100 years ago, they cut the land eastwards Baikal, including Boli (Khabarovsk), Haishenwei (Vladivostok) and the Kamchatka Peninsula. This old score hasn’t been yet settled. We haven’t yet agreed with them how to do this.” In total, according to the former president of the People’s Republic of China, Russia should return to China an area of over 1.5 million square meters. From this viewpoint, Russia’s administration should be interested in avoiding precedents that China could eventually use in the future to restore its previous grandeur

Currently, it is impressive to see how China manages to annihilate Russia’s influence in Middle Asia, especially after the recent events in Kazakhstan. This way, Russia intervened in a military way in the conflict of the elites in this country, while China reaped the benefits by convoking a summit with the involvement of  heads of state of Central Asia with whom it reached agreements on cooperation in the political sphere, the economy, security, to make solid investments in infrastructure and technologized sectors. Evidently, China can offer these states what Russia cannot. Consequently, it was mentioned, among others, that Russia remains one of the partners.


The confrontation between Russia and the West poses a huge threat to security. The ultimate pretentions of Russia towards the West were rejected and this means the next phases of tensions are imminent. There are different explanations for President Vladimir Putin’s behavior. The most populate one is that Putin looks for existential guarantees for his circles given the sliding towards the gerontocrtatic phase of his rule. This way, there is no doubt that Putin will run for a new office of President in 2024 and then for another term etc. as the country’s constitution was modified for this purpose. The economic stagnation requires a change in the political themes and emphasis was moved to the confrontation with the West so as to restore Russia’s grandeur as indulgence for all the other failures. Putin and his elites cannot answer the question, how did the UK, without claiming to be a pole of the multipolar world, manage to create the Commonwealth of Nations that were part of the empire, while Russia is unable to do something like this and resorts to the annexation of territories, inciting of separatism and threatening of neighbors?

Also, after 22 years of rule, Vladimir Putin is forced by the circumstances to look for a variant for transferring power to trustworthy persons. The transfer variant in Kazakhstan proved to be inconsistent. The Chinese variant is not suitable for Russia as it is based on the Marxist-Leninist ideology and on the fight against corruption. Russia does not have any other ideology than the imperialist one, aimed at evoking the previous grandness, while an authentic fight against corruption is impossible when cohorts of Putin’s friends became multimillionaires and potential targets of the West’s sanctions. This is a really humiliating situation for a country that claims the status of pole of the multipolar world. This is the logic of the evolution of the authoritarian regimes that inevitably leads to the autumn of the patriarchs, with all the relevant consequences.

There are opinions that the Republic of Moldova should avoid an involvement in geopolitical confrontations even by expressing sympathies for the great powers, which is the Republic of Moldova should ensure a balance in the foreign policies by aiming to obtain particular advantages by toadying to the potential winners. Currently, for the first time in the confrontation between Russia and the West, it was reached a situation in which the Republic of Moldova is invoked as a victim of Russia’s pretensions. This involves opportunities and dangers for the Republic of Moldova, which should be put on a scale so as to optimize security policies.

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