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Strategic Development Comments From Andrey Belousov, Russia’s New Defense Minister

Andrey Belousov, a former Deputy Prime Minister, has been appointed as Russia’s new Minister of Defense. Belousov is a longstanding member of the Russian political elite who has held important government positions for the past 20 years. He is the first civilian to hold the post, and has spent most of his career working as an academic economist. Because of his economic background, policies he introduces can be expected to impact not just on Russia’s defense and the situation in Ukraine, but extend much further into implications for Russia’s manufacturing industry and foreign trade, and especially with China. Belousov is a former Russian counterpart to China’s Ding Xuexiang,   a close ally of Chinese President Xi Jinping, who Putin meets on Thursday and Friday this week (May 16 & 17). Ding is a member of China’s Politburo standing committee, and a Chinese First Vice Premier.

Belousov has previously commented on matters related to Russia’s development, and we quote them as follows:

Relations with the West 

“Russia should follow the path of modernized conservatism… Russia can preserve traditional Western values. The West has abandoned these traditional values and moved on to something else – to an anti-traditional mindset within the framework of postmodernism.”

“It is important to preserve traditional Western values, which in a certain sense are the values of Western Christian civilization, European civilization. Russia can become the guardian of these values. This may sound like a paradox, but it’s true. In this respect, it would be wrong to call the West our enemy. But in the West, there are certain elites, and considerable parts of society that are associated with traditional values. And in this respect, they may grasp at this straw, this chance which Russia offers them to preserve some of their values.”

Russia’s Pivot to Asia

“It would be more correct to talk about turning towards the South, not just the East. But in itself, the word ‘turn’ is rather ambiguous, as it implies the ideology of the global world. The global world – at least in the minds of its ideologists – was monocentric. It was composed of the Anglo-Saxon core and ‘old’ Europe which joined it, and together they ruled the world. And Russia somehow fits into this world. In fact, we really tried to fit into it. But now, we have been thrown out. Though we left on our own as well.”

National Sovereignty

“The ideology of a multipolar world is about developing a certain self-dependence, similar to Carl Jung’s concept of The Self. It is different from the ‘persona’, or ‘mask’ that one wears. All sovereign countries should possess this concept. Countries that are not sovereign, by definition, cannot possess it. I deeply respect countries like the Netherlands, but they do not possess sovereignty.”

“There is no other option for Russia but to acquire or rediscover this Self. Some say that we have huge resources, we have talented people. That is true. But the most important prerequisite for forming a Russian Self is great culture. We have our own cultural code, our own cultural identity, which most countries and peoples do not have. Dostoevsky felt it very well, and especially in works such as ‘A Writer’s Diary’, expressed it 100% precisely. And many other writers of the 19th and 20th century spoke about this too. That is our most important resource, which we must use. We need people to understand that they carry within themselves this cultural code. This should be done through various mechanisms – through patriotism, through education, through the experience of their fathers and grandfathers. If we solve this problem, economic tasks will be secondary. They are complex, but I am sure that we will solve them, because essentially, we have everything that we need to achieve this.”  

“Sovereignty does not imply complete independence. Sovereignty means that the country and society are able to achieve their national goals. If you can set goals and achieve them, then you are a sovereign country. China, India, Indonesia can do this, but Europe can’t. Europe has lost its sovereignty. And I’m not even talking about other countries that we all know about. This is not due to the fact that there is a political dictatorship there, or something like that. Simply, something is missing, you know what I mean? The concept of sovereignty implies both the state of a society, its cultural identity, and the availability of resources for further development. In the early 2000s, Russia also had trouble finding balance, but it moved on. But I want to say that when the country is in a difficult situation or at a crossroads, the mobilization model of the economy is not the only choice, that’s the point.”

Russia’s Elites

“Everyone cannot look in the same direction. This has never happened in the past and will never happen. Especially in our country. Our country has always been marked by divided values and this situation always becomes worse during periods of reform. Whether it’s Peter the Great’s reforms or others. We call him “Peter the Great”, but even in those times, some called him the antichrist and anathematized him. And I’m not even talking about the Russian revolution, when our officer corps split in two: 50% supported the Reds and 50% supported the Whites. Who were these people? They formed the elite. But a particular kind of elite. The same thing happened in the 1990s, when a major split occurred in our society. It is quite difficult, even impossible and counterproductive to force everyone to move in a certain direction. But there must be a certain core of society that will go and create this environment. This core has nothing to do with economics, it is about the fundamental meaning of what it means to be Russian.”

Russia’s Productivity  

“Considering the current situation, I would put food production in the first place, because Russia possesses a significant part of the world’s fertile lands. Of course, there is also energy, including energy services and energy security. Russia can also offer military security. In some fields, Russia can offer technology and in others, logistics, because a number of transcontinental transport corridors pass through Russia. So, we have much to offer the world.”  

Russia’s Development Strategy

“What strategy should a large national economy, such as Russia’s, adopt in the nearest five to ten years? The answer is quite simple: It needs to ensure strategic sustainability, and this is possible only through the formation of sustainable country alliances. Therefore, the essence of Russia’s strategy should be to build alliances with friendly countries. A new bipolar structure is emerging, and a new confrontation between blocs. In my opinion, this is not right. We should rather consider a system of alliances – such as when different major players enter into different alliances, including multilateral and bilateral ones. And the result is what we call a multipolar world.”

Defense Ministry Objectives

“We are currently conducting a special military operation. Naturally, the most pressing and immediate issues are related to this. Primarily, this involves the provision of the most advanced military and specialized equipment, artillery ammunition, missiles, personal protection gear for soldiers, communication devices, drones, electronic warfare tools, and so forth. The scope of these issues is vast. Each direction has monthly plans, but their execution demands daily, and often hourly, attention. This is the first thing.

Secondly, our opponents adapt quickly. The landscape of new technology usage is changing on a weekly basis. In this context, we must not only learn and keep up but also anticipate the enemy’s moves. This effort, coordinated with the General Staff, is ongoing but also requires daily involvement – we must analyze the application of new technologies and develop new combat methods.

It is essential to ensure the full integration of the Armed Forces’ economy into the broader national economy. Given the objective increase in defense spending, which has now exceeded 6.7% of the country’s GDP, this task is complex and multifaceted, primarily involving the optimization of military expenditures. I want to emphasize that optimization does not mean indiscriminate cuts; it means increasing efficiency.

Everything effective and advanced in our country must contribute to achieving victory and fulfilling the Armed Forces’ objectives. I am fully aware of my responsibility to the country, the Russian people, and the president of the Russian Federation. In line with my anticipated appointment, I pledge to dedicate all my efforts, health, and if necessary, my life to achieving the assigned tasks.”

Principles

“I will be guided by an unwavering principle: Making mistakes is acceptable; lying is not.”

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