Russian Elite Not Only Believes Its Own Propaganda But is Basing Its Actions on It, New Russian Document Shows

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, June 7, 2016)

The Moscow Council on Foreign and Defense Policy released at the end of May a document describing Russian foreign policy for the remainder of this decade. It is filled with propagandistic shibboleths heard every day on Russian TV, and the policies that it recommends flow from them rather than from analyses of the situation, Kseniya Kirillova says.

The Kremlin and its entourage thus is increasingly living in its own world, one that is detached from reality, but apparently is inclined to act on propaganda lines that recall the darkest days of the cold war and make dangerous outcomes far more likely, the US-based Russian analyst says (nr2.com.ua/blogs/Ksenija_Kirillova/Strategiya-rossiyskoy-vneshney-politiki-novaya-Holodnoy-voyny-120437.html).

An initial reading of the Moscow Council report, she continues, does not suggest there is any reason to focus on it, given that it overflows with “classical propagandistic myths of the kind which elite laughter not only among serious analysts or international journalists but even among more or less well-read ordinary people.”

But a second reading both shows why this report is dangerous and why the acceptance of propagandistic memes is so dangerous: they are being used, Kirillova suggests, to elaborate policy rather than treated as messages for the masses that the elite can safely ignore as it comes up with real policies. She gives five examples of this:

First, “the document calls on Moscow to rely in the first instance on military force,” something propagandists like to say but that precludes the kind of diplomatic activity that can be useful for any country.

Second, it urges the country to rely on and make use of its nuclear arsenal as a means of blackmailing the West and advancing Russian interests. And the report specifically opposes any return to negotiations about the further limitation of nuclear weapons.

Third, the Moscow Council report calls for a complete violation of the Minsk accords, arguing that “it is better to have a semi-independent but formally Ukrainian territory which will help Russia” and thus will in essence become “‘a frozen’ conflict.”

Fourth, despite the failure of ethnic Russians in Ukraine to rally around Moscow, the report calls for intensifying the use of Russian-speaking diasporas abroad as a form of “‘soft power.'”

And fifth, it argues that the US has decided on a new containment doctrine and that Moscow must do everything it can to reject what it calls “revolutionary democratic messianism” which presumably means suppressing any efforts to replace authoritarian rulers with democratic ones.

All the propagandistic language about better relations with the West being possible at some future time, however, remains just that – propaganda – and it is perhaps only there that the Russian elite does not believe what its own agitators are saying, Kirillova implies in conclusion.

Article also appeared at windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2016/06/russian-elite-not-only-believes-its-own.html