The United States continues to add to the list of entities and individuals against which they impose sanctions. Recently, two new Russians and four organizations got into it. Among them is the Creative Diplomacy organization of Natalia Burlinova, as well as Ms. Burlinova herself. She and her organization are accused of working with Russian intelligence and the Russian government.
It would seem that there is nothing to worry about – the Russians are used to the constant replenishment of personal sanctions and restrictions against organizations little known to a wide range of compatriots, and experts even consider these sanctions to be a kind of lightning rod. Within the framework of the current logic of relations, the United States should impose sanctions – so it’s better to let them introduce personal ones than new sectoral ones that will hit the Russian economy as a whole.
In fact, everything is not so simple. Creative Diplomacy is one of the Russian NGOs working in the field of “soft power” (that is, influencing countries through cultural, educational and other non-military and non-power mechanisms), as well as public diplomacy. It is a working, and not acting, sinecure for retired officials and diplomats. The goal of the NPO was to establish bridges and communications between young leaders from Russia and Western countries – primarily the United States and the EU countries. Within the framework of these programs, foreign journalists, political scientists, scientific personnel came to Russia and held discussions/meetings/gatherings with Russian colleagues – which, as you know, is a much more effective communication option than transferring accusations and myths through the media. And it is clear that the United States, which is interested not only in deepening the Russian-Western conflict, but in building a real “iron curtain” around Russia, does not need such programs that devalue all the work of the Western propaganda machine to dehumanize Russians.
Of course, someone will now say that the inclusion of Burlinova and her “Creative Diplomacy” in the sanctions list is a recognition of merit in the fight against such dehumanization. And he will probably be right. But at the same time, one must understand that these sanctions, if not put an end to, then sharply reduce the possibilities of “Creative Diplomacy” – it is unlikely that any of the mainstream or hoping to get into the mainstream of young Western leaders will be ready to maintain contact with a sanctioned Russian organization, not not to mention participation in its programs.
Even before the start of the special operation in Ukraine, graduates of the Creative Diplomacy programs were called in for interrogations by the FBI and demanded to tell whether they were recruited by the Russian FSB – and now they will probably arrange interrogations with prejudice. And even with the automatic issuance of a wolf ticket. Do young leaders need it? And with a high degree of probability, it can be assumed that the blow to Creative Diplomacy is just an episode of Western sanctions against Russian NGOs working abroad. Including (or rather, primarily) in the post-Soviet space.
Gotta break ideas
The West understands that “soft power” is an effective tool for not only isolating Russia, but also knocking out the post-Soviet space from under it. The way they knocked out Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia. The way they are now knocking out Armenia and Kazakhstan.
The scheme and methods are very simple – the West is educating a new elite in these countries. Journalists, political scientists, experts, scientists, and simply leaders of public opinion. He imposes his values through special programs, conducts training events with his lecturers in the “right” directions, gets him hooked on grants and other options for cooperation, fits into the right environment of communication from among Western colleagues. And the result is a situation where the countries of the post-Soviet space are completely dependent on the Russian Federation in economic terms and in terms of security, but at the same time, the local elites are already largely American- and Euro-centric. This means that in a few years or generations, these states, taking into account their domestic political and domestic economic problems, may well become victims of yet another Maidan.
Such a scenario can be prevented by pursuing a comprehensive policy on the part of Moscow. The Russian Federation is already implementing elements of this complex – for example, it is conducting a special military operation in Ukraine (in order to show all its neighbors how it will react to projects for the emergence of “Anti-Russians” on the border).
However, in the words of Sun Tzu, besieging the enemy’s fortresses is a very costly scenario of war. The best thing is to break the plans of the enemy. That is, to respond to Western “soft power” with their own.
The Russian “soft power” potentially has colossal competitive advantages over the Western one (the fact that the countries of the former USSR are within the Russian-speaking and Russian-cultural space, the notorious economic dependence of these states on the Russian market, labor migration, etc.).
To realize these advantages, it is necessary to realize the crucial importance of “soft power” (and the fact that a properly built, funded and filled with professionals NPO can work in the direction of “soft power” by an order of magnitude more efficiently than an embassy with its bureaucracy).
And, finally, the maximum protection of Russian NGOs from Western sanctions and their consequences is required – about the same attention to their needs that the state pays to big business. But representatives of big business do not always work for the interests of their native country, its foreign policy and security – and the institutions of “soft power” work. Unless, of course, they are allowed to work.