04.07.2024 Author: Veniamin Popov

Today’s world is developing à la Primakov

then-Prime Minister of Russia E. M. Primakov

In December 1998, during an official visit to New Delhi, then-Prime Minister of Russia E. M. Primakov proposed the creation of a strategic triangle between Russia, India and China, which would be a counterweight to the hegemonic policies of the US and the West, that force their position unto other states. Primakov’s proposal was the first signal vis-à-vis the transformation of the unipolar world that had formed following the fall of the Soviet Union.

Admittedly, the initial reaction to the idea of a Russia-India-China (RIC) triangle was rather sceptical. Even in Moscow, many believed that such a trilateral format was not viable, primarily due to significant differences between India and China. Moscow’s relations with Delhi and Beijing in the post-Soviet period remain quite strong and fit the description of a real strategic partnership, however two of the world’s oldest civilizations, neighbours separated by the Himalayas for a long time, have shown elements of rivalry in becoming the regional leader. Since the middle of the last century, India and China have been unable to reach an agreement on the division of the border territories of Arunachal Pradesh and Ladakh.

Nevertheless, subsequent events have shown that Primakov’s idea is not just an interesting concept, but must also be implemented as soon as possible. RIC not only became an independent format, but also served as the basis for the creation of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) – the largest association of developing economies in the world.

Cooperation within the scope of the RIC format began in 2002, when the first meeting of foreign ministers took place during the UN General Assembly. Since 2006, regular meetings have been held between Brazil, India, Russia and China, and since 2010 South Africa has joined this quartet.

In 2023 BRICS expanded to consist of 10 members with Egypt, Iran, Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia and the UAE joining.

Being a major statesman, Evgeny Maksimovich Primakov, has always been an outstanding scientist, whose ideas and works have always paved the way for the future. At the beginning of the 21st century, he repeatedly warned that the survival of mankind rests upon uniting all states and peoples without exception, as we face a large number of global problems and challenges from the threat of terrorism and the possibility of using weapons of mass destruction to rapid climate change and the growth of appalling material inequality. In this regard, he placed special emphasis on the inadmissibility of a new division of the world, this time along religious and civilizational lines.

E. M. Primakov authored the maxim that the world will certainly become multipolar

The fact is that in the early 90s, the famous US political scientist S. Huntington put forth the idea of a clash of civilizations, which, according to him, would replace the Cold War. He theorised that, for the given time period, the source of future conflicts in the world would not be ideological and economic contradictions between countries, rather socio-cultural differences between civilizations due to the peculiarities of religion, shared values etc. Civilization is explained both by common objective elements, such as language, history, religion, customs and social institutions, as well as by the subjective self-identification of people. The most significant conflicts of the future (in terms of their consequences) will occur due to the schisms separating civilizations. At the same time, Huntington noted that, in the 90s, the conflict between the West and the Islamic world was the most pronounced, yet in the future it will be the Western civilization that confronts everyone else.

Differences in the volume of power and the struggle for military, economic and political power are thus a source of conflict between the West and other civilizations. Another source of conflict is differences in culture, basic values and beliefs.

Some scientists of that time assumed that the West would dominate for a long time. The famous Trinidadian writer and Nobel Prize winner V. S. Naipaul argued that Western civilization is universal and suitable for all peoples.

Singaporean scientist and politician K. Mahbubani said that the central axis of world politics would be the conflict between the West and the rest of the world in the form of a reaction of non-Western civilizations to Western power and values. He expressed the hope that the world would follow the path of convergence.

BRICS – a union of all non-Western civilizations

E.M. Primakov emphasised that ­– even in the conditions of a noticeable aggravation of contradictions in the modern world – one cannot talk about the inevitability of a conflict of civilizations. Moreover, politicians around the world must express their will and focus on solving the most acute problems facing all mankind. He is the author of the expression “partnership of civilizations”.

Also, while analysing the challenges of American identity, Huntington noted back in 2005 that disintegration processes were gaining momentum in the United States, calling into question the very fact of the future existence of the phenomenon of American identity. The US, the scientist convincingly showed, is at a turning point, and the future of not only the US, but also the entire world system, depends on which way the pendulum will eventually swing.

Currently, BRICS is a union of all non-Western civilizations: Chinese, Hindu, Islamic, Russian (Eurasian), African and Latin American.

Despite numerous failures and problems, the West – primarily the United States – is still trying to dictate its way unto all other states. This can be observed in the incitement of conflict in all parts of the world, the imposition of various kinds of sanctions and restrictive measures against those who want to live as they please, in accordance with their own vision. Examples of such include Russia, China, Iran, North Korea and other countries.

Because of their attempts to maintain their elusive dominance, Western powers are facing an increasing number of domestic political difficulties; in the US, polarisation has reached an astounding new level (some observers write about ‘two Americas’). In the UK, the bankruptcy of the conservatives’ 14-year rule has become so obvious that, according to many observers, it will clearly manifest itself in the parliamentary elections on July 4.

However, the crisis of Western civilization is most clearly witnessed in France, where most political forces talk about the ‘death of Macronism’, which will be seen during the election campaign in early July. The French example will be contagious for many other countries, as France has always been the birthplace of revolution; both Russian and US politicians have always been impressed by radical French transformations.

The majority of political observers also predict that the German government will soon change.

In June 2024, the UN General Assembly unanimously decided to celebrate June 10 each year as the ‘International Day for Dialogue among Civilizations’, the main purpose of which is to introduce people to the diversity of civilizations.

E. M. Primakov liked to repeat that humanity was able to cope with the division of the world according to an ideological principle, and will eventually be able to cope with the clash of civilizations.

In the current conditions, the further development of E. M. Primakov’s legacy is becoming particularly relevant. It is no coincidence that dozens of countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America have announced their desire to join BRICS. In October, Kazan will host the next summit of this grouping, which is becoming the most attractive international organization. Our successes in the Special Military Operation in Ukraine give us ample opportunity to propose new global initiatives that will pave the way to resolving existing conflicts and solve pressing global problems.


Veniamin Popov, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, PhD in History, especially for online magazine “New Eastern Outlook

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