Russian President Vladimir Putin addressed a meeting of Russian ambassadors and permanent representatives today in Moscow, in the biannual meeting of this group. The theme was entitled "Russia in a Changing World: Stable Priorities and New Opportunities." We provide leading themes here, as they were reported in the English-language translation on the Russian presidential website (kremlin.ru), in the order in which he developed them.
After warning the diplomats gathered in the audience in the audience that they have to be "active in trying to influence the situation in circumstances when Russian interests are directly concerned," not "follow events," he addressed the following topics.
After noting that "international relations today cannot be said to be balanced and stable," he noted that they are "becoming tenser and more uncertain."
He then turned to the economic crisis, saying, "We are forced to admit that no reliable solution for overcoming the global economic crisis has been found yet. Indeed, the prospects are looking more and more worrying. The debt problems in the Eurozone and its slide towards recession are just the tip of the iceberg as far as the global economy's unresolved structural problems go."
He emphasized that the crisis is "weakening" the "traditional Western economic powers," but this is "no cause for joy."
He next turned to the crises in international relations caused by those who "resort to unilateral action that runs counter to the principles of international law," citing the fraud of "humanitarian operations," the export of bomb and missile diplomacy, and intervention in internal conflicts." It was in this context that he reiterated Russia's policy on Syria — no more Libyas. He also blasted attempts to act outside the UN Security Council, reiterating Russia's firm adherence to the UN Charter.
He then turned to the need for "economic diplomacy" which he said must be more effective. He mentioned the "integration process in the CIS" as the "core of our foreign policy and our strategic objective," and the goal of moving "towards establishing the Eurasian Economic Union." The overall strengthening of Russia's position in the Asia-Pacific region, the "strategic and practical cooperation with China" as a major priority, and the further development of ties with Europe, with which Russia has more than a quarter of its foreign trade, were outlined.
Putin next directed his attention to the U.S., stressing the vital need for U.S.-Russian cooperation and trust. The U.S., in the middle of an election campaign, is in a situation where "it is very tempting ... to notch up some points by making hardline statements and playing on old ideological stereotypes and phobias that it is high time we abandoned."
"We see what is going on," he continued. "We do not dramatize the situation, but we are aware of it." But "we cannot but feel concerned" about the particular measures.
He concluded with two additional topics. First, the need to use "soft power" (a term associated with Hillary Clinton) in the interests of one's country, faulting Russian diplomacy for not adequately explaining its position. And last, the need for the diplomatic corps to "be ready round the clock to protect the rights and interests of our citizens and compatriots abroad."