Putin’s foreign policy can essentially be analyzed into two phases. In the first phase from 2001 to 2007 he tried to get the EU states in a friendly way out of NATO and wanted to set up a free trade zone from Lisbon to Vladivostok, as well as to make Europe energy dependent through natural gas supplies and pipeline construction, whereby he found in Gerhard Schröder’s German government and the North Stream project eager promoters of a closer connection. Schröder also wanted to Eurasianize the G7 and build an Eurasian bloc against the USA, get Russia and China in the G7 as a new G9 and therefore get Russian and Chinese support for an UNO reform and a German seat in the UN Security Council. Similar to Trump who wants a G 11 with Rusia, India, Southkorea and Australia , but against China what the other members rejected. Putin formulated his strategic goal clearly in his speech to the German Bundestag in 2001:
“No one doubts the great value of Europe to the United States. But I believe that Europe will only consolidate its reputation as a powerful and independent center of world politics in the long term if it combines its own potential with Russia’s human, territorial and natural resources, as well as with Russia’s economic, cultural and defense potentials.”
In short: It was not just about change through trade and a purely civilian Eurasian economic area, but also about na Eurasian military alliance between Europe and Russia. Important is the point: unification of the Russian and European defense potentials, i.e. dissolution of NATO and replacement by a Eurasian military alliance under Russian leadership because Russia has the largest nuclear weapons arsenal that can compete with the USA, while the French and British nuclear weapons are rather marginal. When that didn’t happen and NATO and the EU wanted to expand further, it was over with being friendly and funny and if you’re not willing, use violence, especially as the two pillars of Russia’s security architecture, the Black Sea Fleet through the Maidan coup in Ukraine and the Mediterranean fleet were endangered by the Arab Spring in Syria, Putin intervened militarily.
And now Putin has launched a counter-offensive that wants NATO back to the pre-1997 borders. This could work quite quickly if Trump is re-elected in 2024, if he sees NATO as obsolete and also revokes the alliance guarantee and Article 5 and withdraws US nuclear protection from Europe and thus hands it over to Putin as a deal to win it as a junior partner against China or at least to keep it neutral, as not only Trump, but also parts of the Pentagon, the State Department or John Mearsheimer hoped until recently. And it is no longer about Ukraine. Putin and Xi want to fight for a new multipolar world order, be it with war and push the US out of Europe and the Indo-Pacific. In addition, Lavrov said at an earlier Munich Security Conference that regional conflicts, including Ukraine, cannot be resolved through regional agreements, but that a New International Security Order must first be established, in exactly that order. In perspective, it is not about Ukraine, but about a new world war and a New World Order.
From the Left Party to the AfD, there has been talk of a New Ostpolitik and a new European security architecture. Now Norbert Röttgen has called for a New Ostpolitik based on 3 pillars, like British historian Timothy Garton Ash at the MSC. The first pillar should be a strong European military, since diplomacy can only be carried out on the basis of robust military strength. The second pillar should be a strategy to strengthen the Eastern European states. The third pillar is a new Russia strategy that answers the question of how the West envisages its future relations with Russia and what long-term goals it has. Annalena Baerbock could only say in general terms on the question of a new Ostpolitik that it sould be a Helsinki 2.0.