For all the talk about Obama’s failed or belated pivot to Asia along with Putin’s pivot to China, the Moscow Times has observed (“Russia Pivoted East Centuries Ago”) that Russia has been looking to the less threatening East longer than the United States and many other western countries have existed:
Russia’s first turn from the West to the East happened almost 800 years ago. At the end of the 13th century, one of the most powerful Russian states, the Novgorod Republic, successfully resisted attacks from the West by Livonian and Teutonic knights seeking to convert Orthodox Russians to Catholicism. Prince Alexander Nevsky, at the time the elected ruler of the Novgorod republic and later canonized by the Orthodox Church, considered the Teutonic knights more dangerous than even the Mongols. After the Mongol army was stopped at the borders of Novgorod lands, he agreed to pay regular tribute to the Mongols to reduce the threat from the West.
And then the Moscow Times observed:
Putin, a devoted Orthodox Christian, perceives the West not just as a legalistic society whose rules threaten his personal power, but as a decadent, anti-religious and ignorant society.
The article goes on to say that China, like the Mongols, is not seen by Putin as threatening to the “unique” Russian identity because Beijing does not insist on democratization and it is not promoting human rights or the adoption of “universal” aka western values. Instead, Putin sees the expansion of the European Union and NATO eastward as the same kind of threat that Prince Alexander had seen in the Teutonic knights.
To read the whole article, Russia Pivoted East Centuries Ago, go to the website of the Moscow Times.
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