Russians Warn Arab Officials on the New Warfare: Is this the Beginning of a New Bipolar World Order?
On May 23, 42 Arab military and security officials attending the third annual Moscow International Security Conference were briefed by a team of top Russian government officials on the growing danger of “color revolutions.” The uniform message presented by the Russian speakers was that the United States and NATO have adopted a new mode of warfare, focused on the use of irregular warfare forces, religious fanatics, and mercenaries, combined with the heavy use of information warfare. In a series of English language power-point graphs and maps, presenters gave a detailed chronology of the past decade, highlighting Western regime change operations in Ukraine, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Libya and Yemen.
Russian officials and several Belarus counterparts argued that the U.S. and Western allies have devised a new form of warfare which is cheaper than all former modes of large-scale conventional warfare, produces fewer casualties, but seeks to achieve the same regime change objectives. They argued that this new form of irregular warfare violates the Geneva conventions, draws civilian populations directly into conflicts, and violates other traditional rules of war. They also asserted that the efforts have frequently failed, leading to widespread instability and the global spread of terrorism. The Russian speakers argued that, while the US and other Western powers profess to oppose terrorism, the consequences of their “color revolutions” have frequently bolstered the very terrorist organizations they are simultaneously combating.
Russian speakers on the May 23 panel were among the leading military and diplomatic aides to President Vladimir Putin: Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Chief of Staff of the Russian Armed Forces General Staff General Valery Gerasimov, Secretary General of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) Nikolay Bordirzha, Chief of the Main Operational Directorate of the Russian General Staff General Vladimir Zarudnitsky, and Deputy Foreign Minister Michael Bogdanov. Belarus Minister of Defense Yury Zhadobin was also a prominent speaker.
RIA Novosti quoted Foreign Minister Lavrov warning: “Regime change operations in sovereign states, various ‘color revolutions’ provoked by external forces, cause apparent damage to international stability. Attempts to impose homemade recipes for internal changes on other nations, without taking into account their own traditions and national characteristics, to engage in the ‘export of democracy,’ have a destructive impact on international relations and result in an increase of the number of hot spots on the world map.”
Dr. Anthony Cordesman, the American military analyst who holds the Burke Chair on Strategy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, attended the Moscow conference and issued a 52-page report, based on his own notes with copies of many of the Russian power-point charts. He titled his report “A Russian Military View of a World Destabilized by the US and the West.” He said that American security officials must take careful note of the views expressed at the Moscow international conference because they inform Russian strategic moves, including a serious effort to re-establish strong ties to Arab regimes in the Middle East, starting with Egypt. He warned American strategists that the Russian assessment marks a serious change on the part of Moscow:
“The end result is a radically different reading of modern history, of US and European strategy, their use of force, and US and European goals and actions from any issued in the West and in prior Russian literature. Western experts can argue the degree to which this represents Russian anger over the West’s reaction to events in Ukraine, Russian efforts at persuading developing nations and Asia to back Russia in a reassertion of its strategic role in the world, propaganda to cloak the character Russian actions in the Ukraine and near abroad, an effort to justify Russian action in Syria, very real Russian concern over US and European actions that have destabilized key MENA and Central Asian states, and a host of other possible motives and intentions.
“What is critical is that the US and Europe listen to what Russian military leaders and strategists are saying. These are not Russian views the US and Europe can afford to ignore.”
This harsh reassessment coincides with the development of Russia’s new strategic economic and security agreements with China. If the Russia-China partnership matures and expands to encompass India and other nations of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) at the upcoming summit in Brazil in July, this could mean the beginning of a new bipolar world order. Such a new bipolar system would be drastically different than the Cold War era, but would nonetheless mean a new period of strategic competition and simmering conflict.