From, July 7, 2021, Condensed text:

The National Security Strategy recently signed by Putin says a lot of interesting and funny things. . . .

The documents published by the Russian authorities are truly less and less distinguishable from parodies of themselves and more and more resemble the output of a low-quality neural network fed with ’90s nationalist newspaper editorials. . . The National Security Strategy is a perfect example of such work. After all, the document was created by a living neural network – some of [Russian Security Council Secretary] Nikolai Patrushev’s clerks who stuffed into one text everything that the authorities agree with and that they themselves once read somewhere.

Room 101.

The 101st heading of the document, which the authors placed in the section “Strategic stability and mutually beneficial international cooperation,” still includes a full 32 subheadings. That’s the part that deals with Russia’s geopolitical allies. All in all, it is a rather odd section. Which is probably why they put it at the end, so that it will be reached only the most curious or those who need it for work. It also contains a detailed description of the world order as the Kremlin sees it.

Under the fifth subheading, it designates “deepening cooperation with***the Republic of Abkhazia and the Republic of South Ossetia,” which appear there, separated by commas, with the states of the half-dead CIS, as a means of achieving tasks of Russian foreign policy. Few, of course, can help Russia as much as these two powerful states, but these are just the icing on the cake. Next, China and India appear on the scene as partners and almost allies of Russia. A casual reader or, on the contrary, one well groomed by television propaganda, should have the feeling that Russia is in good and influential company opposing the treacherous West and its cursed values [laid out] in the previous sections, and therefore there is no reason to doubt that victory is ours: Who could overcome such a force as Russia, India and China?

In fact, Russia has no serious allies, and this was noticed by more or less all interested observers. China is not any ally of Russia, but a senior partner to whom we are hardly equals. At least as far as the Chinese are concerned. It is easy to see that Russia provides more services to China, both big and small, than the other way around. While our propaganda diligently replays Beijing’s tales about the happy life of the Uighurs under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party, no one in Beijing is in a hurry to recognize the Crimea as Russian or broadcast the Kremlin’s great-power propaganda to their audiences.

Noticing all this is both unpleasant and dangerous, so the authors of the document begin to juggle the names of international associations to which Russia and its imaginary allies have at least some relation. And while the SCO can still be taken seriously in some ways, BRICS, which is mentioned alongside it, looks completely ridiculous. To begin with, this is an abbreviation for the English names of five countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. It appeared in a research paper by Goldman Sachs in 2001, where the countries were grouped according to certain indicators.The idea was that these countries were very promising in terms of economics, and if they would also interact politically, ho-ho, that would be a new planetary force.

Many people in these countries liked this idea, and in 2009 the heads of the countries met at a global summit and decided to be friends. Since then, 12 summits have taken place, the last of which was in 2020 (virtually). We can’t say, and probably won’t be able to say, that the BRICS has become some kind of unified political force, or that it ever will. Unlike Russia, all the other countries have changed their leadership since the early 2000s, and in some places even more than once. Brazil has swung very strongly to the right, and it is very different under its current President [Jair] Bolsonaro than it was under [Luiz Ignacio] Lula da Silva and Dilma Roussef (both ex-presidents, by the way, went down for corruption: Lula da Silva even ended up in prison, and his successor was removed from power using the impeachment procedure). In 2021, we can quite confidently state that the countries that came together on one line of an antiquated analytical report have not increased their common interests over the past years, and may have even [lost some common interests]. If anything happened, it’s obvious that neither the Brazilians nor the South Africans would lift a finger for Russia.

The Indian fairy tale.

. . . India is not only the world’s largest democracy and federal state (with a huge number of problems, which no one denies), but it also has its own view of world politics which bears little resemblance to the view from Moscow or Beijing.

Things stand worst of all with China. India’s relations with China are not just bad, but very bad: There are territorial disputes, border conflicts, and the Indians’ ostentatious welcome of the Dalai Lama and his government in exile meant to spite the Chinese Communists. In addition, India has a bad relationship with Pakistan, which – surprise, surprise – is China’s close ally in the region.

If India ever considered Russia a partner and ally, it was in those ancient times when instead of Russia there was the USSR, which was just as actively opposing China and likewise Pakistan. If Russia still continued its policy of containing China and Pakistan now, India would most likely remain a reliable ally and buyer of military equipment. But, as already noted, Russia is now actually China’s junior partner, and, in view of the aforementioned, it would be very strange for India to enter into an alliance with a perennial adversary and its junior partner. Moreover, this alliance, as it were, is supposed to be anti-American, which is all the more strange: It is the Russian armchair strategists who consider the US an absolute evil that must be resisted as a matter of principle. Yes, the US has many problematic aspects, including for India – in the past, the US openly supported Pakistan, too, and at one point China. But now everything has changed, and the US looks like almost the only alternative to Chinese dominance in this part of the world and on Earth in general. So why, one wonders, should India be an ally of Putin’s Russia, which is itself an ally of China? So that Patrushev and Putin have something to tell their audience? Like, we are not alone, China and India are with us? Surely you’d agree, there isn’t much of an incentive – and not only for India, I must say. . . .

The geopolitical section of the National Security Strategy is frightening with its childish naïveté mixed with paranoid seriousness. . . .

You read all this and think: What if at some point the Kremlin elders really become convinced that we are not alone, and that China and India are with us? Will they become convinced and reach for the cherished red button, thinking “enough already with the gay propaganda and the cult of permissiveness?” . . .

There are other headings in the [National Security Strategy]. For example, the Strategy declares [Russia’s] readiness for the combat use of the Armed Forces and “preparedness***of the Russian Federation***to protect the state against armed attack and to meet the needs of the state and the population in wartime.” How’s that for a strategy? Or this heading: “Planning and carrying out measures to prepare for the protection, and to protect (sic! – Ed.) the population and [its] material and cultural values on Russian territory from the dangers arising during military conflicts.”

This is perhaps the gloomiest bit in the entire document. The Kremlin elders are discussing the prospects of war more willingly and more thoroughly, reassuring themselves and their flock with nonsense about imaginary Russian allies and the growing influence of our country in the world. We have neither growing influence nor allies, but we have a strategy discussing preparations for war.