by Ivan Timofeev

Program director of the Valdai Club

April 15, 2024

from ValdaiClub Website

translation by RT Team

April 16, 2024

from RT Website

Original version in russian





Russian President Vladimir Putin (L)

shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

© Greg Baker-Pool/Getty Images


The Euro-Atlantic region

has not experienced a crisis like today's

since the end of the Cold War;

that has created

an opportunity for real change...



In his annual address to the Russian Federal Assembly on February 29, 2024, President Vladimir Putin emphasized,

the need for a new framework of equal and integral security in Eurasia...

He also expressed the country's readiness to engage in a substantive discussion on this matter with the relevant parties and organizations.

The initiative was pursued during Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's visit to China this month.


Moscow's top diplomat informed the press about an agreement with China to begin a discussion on the structure of security in Eurasia; a topic addressed during his visit.


The fact that Putin's proposal was on the agenda between the two major countries suggests that it may take concrete form, both in terms of political theory and practice.

The idea of Eurasian security naturally raises questions about other relevant initiatives.


During his visit to Beijing, Lavrov directly linked the need for a new framework with challenges to Euro-Atlantic security, which is centered on NATO and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).


References to the Euro-Atlantic experience are significant for two reasons.

Firstly, the Euro-Atlantic project is characterized by a high degree of institutional integration.


It is based on a military bloc (NATO) which maintains strict obligations for its members. Despite the end of the Cold War, the North Atlantic Alliance has not only survived but expanded to include former members of the Warsaw Pact.


NATO is the largest and historically the most stable military bloc.

Secondly, the post-Cold War Euro-Atlantic project has failed to address the issue of common and shared security for all nations in the region.


In theory, the OSCE could have brought together, in a single community, both NATO and non-NATO countries, including Russia.


But since the early 2000s, the OSCE has experienced a process of politicalization which has favored the interests of Western countries.

Russia, as a result, has increasingly seen NATO expansion as a threat to its own security.


Instruments such as the Russia-NATO Council have been unable to address the growing tensions. The lack of effective and equitable institutions that could effectively address the concerns of Russia and fully integrate it into a common security framework has led to increasing estrangement and, ultimately, a crisis in relations with the West.

This development has been accompanied by a deterioration of the arms control regime and the erosion of security norms, against the backdrop of US-led military operations and interference in post-Soviet states.


The culmination of these events has been the Ukrainian crisis, which has reached its military phase and will ultimately determine the final state of emerging security divisions in Europe.

The Euro-Atlantic region no longer exists as a single security community.


It is instead characterized by asymmetric bipolarity, with the North Atlantic Alliance on one side and Russia on the other.

Against the backdrop of the ongoing military conflict between Russia and Ukraine, an intensifying and growing confrontation between Russia and NATO has emerged.


This conflict has not yet escalated into a fully-fledged military phase, but it manifests itself in various other dimensions, including information warfare and the provision of direct and comprehensive military assistance from Western countries to Ukraine.


The Euro-Atlantic region has not faced such challenges since the end of the Cold War.

This suggests that the Euro-Atlantic security framework, based on the principles of equal and indivisible security, no longer exists...


At best, one can hope for a reduction in the intensity of the current crisis through a new balance of power and a mutual deterrent, while acknowledging the emerging security divides.


At worst, there could be a direct military confrontation between Russia and NATO, with the possibility of nuclear escalation.

The experience of the failure of the Euro-Atlantic project highlights the need for the creation of a new framework with different principles and foundations.


Firstly, this new framework should be based on cooperation between several actors and should not rely solely on the dominance of any one party, such as that of the United States in NATO.


In this regard, it is significant that consultations on Eurasian security matters have begun between Russia and China - two major powers and permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.

This indicates that the very first steps towards establishing a new framework are being taken based on dialogue and shared responsibility, rather than on the principle of dominance by any one power.


These steps, however, are not confined to Russian-Chinese bilateral relations, but also leave room for the participation of other countries interested in contributing.

The principles of shared responsibility and non-hegemony may form the basis for a new security architecture.

Another principle worthy of consideration is that of multidimensional security.

It is not limited to military matters (although these remain fundamental), but encompasses a broader range of issues, including "hybrid threats" such as,

  • information campaigns

  • cyber security

  • interference in domestic affairs

  • the politicization of the economy and finance

The unresolved nature of these issues in Russia-West relations was one of the preconditions for the current crisis.

The discussion on a new security structure could include such issues at an early stage.

The principle of the indivisibility of security, which has not been realized in the Euro-Atlantic project, could and should be a core principle for the Eurasia region.

The commencement of consultations between Moscow and Beijing regarding a new security framework, of course, does not necessarily indicate the formation of a military-political alliance akin to NATO.


Rather, it is likely that we will witness a prolonged process of development and refinement of the contours and specifications of the new framework.

Initially, this may take the form of a platform for dialogue or consultation among interested parties, without the burden of excessive organizational or institutional obligations.


Subsequent interactions may be conducted on a case-by-case basis, addressing specific security concerns, including, potentially, digital security.

Existing institutions and organizations such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) may be utilized to this end. The experience gained could then be transformed into permanent institutions focusing on a wider range of security issues.

An important issue will be the functional orientation of the new structure.


NATO originally emerged as an instrument of deterrence against the Soviet Union, but today it has been given a new lease of life as a deterrent against Russia.

It is possible that the new security structure in Eurasia could also be tailored to deterrence.

Both Russia and China are in a state of rivalry and competition with the US, although in the case of Russia this has entered an overt phase, while for China it has not yet fully manifested itself.


At least the idea of jointly countering the US has support in both Moscow and Beijing.

At the same time,

building a security structure solely to fend off Washington limits the potential inclusiveness of the project.


A number of Eurasian states rely on a multi-vector policy and are unlikely to be willing to participate in a structure aimed at competing with the Americans.


Conversely, a high degree of inclusiveness could dilute the security agenda, and reduce it to a general issue that does not require specific, coordinated action.

At present, there are many unanswered questions regarding the parameters of the Eurasian security framework.


These issues will need to be addressed both through diplomatic channels and through dialogue between international experts from the relevant countries.