Russia’s Deputy Chair of the Security Council of the Russian Federation and former president Dmitry Medvedev unleashed a barrage of tweets predicting the decline of the West.
His predictions were ostensibly part of a series of “New Year” predictions and could be seen as kind of mocking or jest, but they also reveal the overall mentality the guides Moscow’s current foreign policy.
The predictions should be taken seriously because Russian state media also reported them. “Deputy Chairman of the Russian Security Council Dmitry Medvedev wished the West ‘a happy new year’ with his ‘futuristic’ prognosis, which predicted a lot of problems,” Tass media noted. The Russian state media report highlighted claims that oil would become much more expensive and that the UK would return to the EU. It also highlighted a bizarre claim that there would be a new form of Nazi Germany, called the “Fourth Reich” and civil war in the US.
The predictions by Russia’s former leader are important also because this isn’t just some nobody, or some TV personality – this is a Russian leader who continues to play a role and was once taken seriously in the West.
It wasn’t long ago that Western foreign policy experts would discuss Russia’s “interests” and see it as a “rational” actor. It has become increasingly clear that Moscow’s leadership is not interested in anything rational, but rather that it is bent on destroying the West. Its attempts to meddle in Western elections and spread conspiracies is clearly part of a larger agenda to sow chaos in the West.
Russia knows that it has many problems at home, including demographics and a military that so far has failed in Ukraine. So it knows that to defeat the West one has to divide the West because it can’t be defeated in a fair fight.
Medvedev’s predictions combine some points that clearly represent Moscow’s views, with those that might be better described as “trolling” or posting just to cause controversy.
He claims that the price of oil will skyrocket is interesting and it jives with Russia’s desire to increase energy costs in the West.
He also claims that the world’s largest stock markets will migrate to Asia. This is also a claim that is rooted in Russia’s decision to invade Ukraine and gamble that Asia is what matters today. Critics of Russia’s invasion are mostly in the West, not in places like India or China. Russia believes the economic future is in Asia and also via some groups Russia is a member of such as the SCO and CICA. Russia believes the IMF and World Bank are not as important as they once were. This is a classic challenge to the neo-liberal world order, the one where the US was a leader of a “rules-based” international order.
The former Russian leader also challenged the Bretton Woods system of monetary management, claiming it would decline. Bretton Woods was an agreement for financial relations among countries after the Second World War and was rooted in the economies of the US, Europe, Canada, Australia and Japan. It helped guide monetary relations among countries and was rooted in conversion of currencies to the US dollar and vice-versa. The Soviet Union was not part of this system, and Russia would like to support an alternate system today. Articles in the past have spoken about an “Asian Bretton Woods.”
Medvedev’s other predictions are more outlandish.
These claims seem to be contradictory. Why would Northern Ireland rejoin Ireland if the UK rejoins the EU? Why would Poland and Hungary occupy Ukraine, when Hungary generally sides with Russia? How would a new German “Reich” emerge and takeover Kyiv if Ukraine doesn’t exist. None of this makes sense and it’s not meant to make sense.
The Russian predictor also claims the US will fall into civil war and California and Texas will become new countries. Texas will ally with Mexico he thinks. This makes no sense. So obviously this is just another Russian attempt to sow chaos and also feed rumors about US civil strife.
The overall point he is making is rooted in Moscow’s view of the world order. Russia thinks that the international system and state borders don’t matter. Russia wants the EU to collapse and it is hopefully to see more controversies. Russia also has fantasies that it is fighting “Nazis” in Ukraine and thus wants to believe that western countries will form a new “Reich.”
More serious is his prediction that Ukraine will cease to exist. This has been Moscow’s policy. Russia wanted to occupy Kyiv and then leave a rump state of western Ukraine to be occupied by the West. Russia now is openly talking about “partitioning” Poland. These are dangerous comments from an official.
The comments come as Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said Moscow can no longer maintain normal ties with the US. Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has been reaching out to India regarding discussions of a peace deal with Moscow. But Lavrov has said Monday that Ukraine must fulfill Moscow's proposals regarding their "new territories" — or the Russian military would take action, according to Russian state news agency TASS.
This means Russia is not serious about peace. It means Russia is predicting a new offensive and a new potentially brutal phase of the war.
Of course, Russia and the West could climb down from this. However, considering the comments by people like Medvedev, and also Putin’s previous comments about the decline of the West, it’s difficult to see how the West can ever really negotiate with or deal with Russia again in a normal way.
Russia has said what it thinks and shown its overall policy. Unlike China, which is more cautious and measured in its rhetoric, even though it too wants to upend the US-led world order, Russia is becoming more extreme. The new year’s “predictions” are an example of this extremism and an example of how Moscow thinks everything is up for grabs.
Countries should be very wary and concerned because a Moscow that believes it is not tethered by rules could do something more dangerous. On the other hand, it is well known that some politicians like to appear more threatening then they are in order to get concessions. During the Nixon era, the US president also tried to convince others the he was a bit of a “madman” in order to create fear in his adversaries.
Russia also has a case of this “madman” doctrine, combined with a policy rooted in dividing the West and empowering Asia.
President Emmanuel Macron saw his decision to push through a change in the retirement age as necessary, but the price may be high.