Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Where Medvedev is A-Traveling Too ...

Where the new Russian president travels--and when--is an interesting indicator of Russia's diplomatic agenda.

Medvedev has announced that his first international journey will be to Kazakhstan--which has emerged as one of Russia's closest partners in the Eurasian space--and from Kazakhstan, to then travel to Beijing. China will be the first "great power" destination.

"Medvedev is giving priority to China in Russia's foreign relations with major powers," Professor Xu Tao of the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations was quoted as saying in the China Daily.

Complementing this approach to the "south and east", in a few days, the foreign ministers of China, India, Brazil and Russia will meet in Yekaterinburg, Russia. Indian Prime Minister Singh has already extended an invitation for Medvedev to visit India and plans are apparently afoot for Medvedev to travel to New Delhi later this year.

However, he won't neglect Europe, and Russia's closest partner there. Plans are underway for Medvedev to travel to Berlin in June for meetings with Chancellor Angela Merkel. Merkel, of course, was the first foreign leader to meet with Medvedev following his election as president in March.

President Bush met Medvedev in Sochi last month and he will meet the new Russian president again in July at the G-8 summit in Tokyo. But it is quite interesting to see what capitals a new Russian president feels he needs to visit soon: Astana, Beijing, Berlin and New Delhi.

So, breaking down these capitals, two democracies, two authoritarians. BRIC meeting--two democracies, two not. Not exactly looking like democracy v. autocracy is the new dividing line in world politics.
Indians are good at playing all sides. I am so tired of Americans quoting Prime Minister Singh and saying how this represents a change. Look what he said about Russia:

“This partnership is based on deep mutual trust, warm people-to-people bonds and long-standing multi-faceted cooperation. Relations with Russia occupy a special priority in India’s foreign policy."
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