Washington appears to believe that if one wishes something strongly, it will come true. That’s what makes it harp on the same string, telling the world stories about Russia’s “isolation”. US Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, did her best to portray Russia as an ostracized state after the UN Security Council did not support the Moscow-submitted draft resolution on Syria on April 15. 8 countries out of 15 voted no, four abstained and three supported the document. “They don't have very good friends,” she said happy about the fact that Kazakhstan abstained. “The friends that they do have are causing them harm," she added. Was there any reason to say so?
The resolution was backed by Russia, Bolivia and China, the economic giant with huge global influence.
Kazakhstan is Russia’s CSTO ally and EAEU partner. It’s not a member of NATO or the EU. The country hosts the Astana peace process and traditionally plays the role of mediator. It did so again to go between the West and Russia. Its vote was not decisive anyway. But in his speech, the Kazakhstan UN ambassador stressed that his country is frustrated by the use of force in Syria. According to him, there was no approval of the April 13 air strikes by the UN Security Council to make the action unjustified.
The SCO is a large international group America is not a member of but Russia is. It brings together 8 members, 4 observers and 6 dialogue partners. They are all Moscow friendly countries united by common interests in many spheres.
Russia has many friends in Latin America, including Bolivia, Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba, among others. It enjoys good working relationship with the continent’s leaders, such as Brazil, a BRICS partner, Chile and Argentina. The list can go on.
Turkey voted against the Russia-submitted draft resolution and Western media rushed to the conclusion it is swaying from Russia back to the West. French President Macron jumped the gun saying, "With those strikes, we have separated Russia from Turkey on this. Turkey condemned the chemical weapons." Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu wasted no time to reply that the relations with Moscow were too strong for the French president to break them. Turkey showed it enjoys more independence than France.
The US ambassador to the UN forgot too soon the events of 2003 when Germany and France, the closest NATO allies, sided with Russia, refusing to support the invasion of Iraq. Today, NATO is far from being united as it seems at first glance. Cracks appear throughout the EU. Not all member states click their heels upon getting orders from the US. Some elements of “America First” policy alienate old friends.
Looks like the relationship with Italy, an old ally, will be a big headache for the US after the country forms a new coalition government, which appears to be more friendly to Russia than America. This is the time when Europe’s once-positive worldview of America is slipping. With rifts and discords tearing it apart, the West is losing out to Russia and China, with the US leadership questioned and on the wane.
The US faces big challenges to its influence in Latin America. Fewer people in the region view America favorably. It loses ground in the Middle East and Asia. US influence has plummeted in many regions of the world recently. It has problems in the relations with Canada, its ally and neighbor.
America’s brand is tarnished. Its foreign policy is widely disapproved. According to Gallup, only 30% of people in 134 countries held a favorable view of the US in 2018, a drop of almost 20 points compared to the presidency of Barack Obama. Globally, the number of people who see America as a major threat is on the rise. Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has outranked US President Donald Trump in worldwide favorability. Last year, the world trusted Putin more than Trump on foreign affairs.
“You are misguided if you think you have friends,” Russia’s UN Ambassador, Vassily Nebenzia, told the US counterpart at April 9 Security Council meeting on Syria. One may agree or disagree. It’s hard to define what is exactly meant by the term ‘friendship” in international affairs. There are allies, partners and fellow travelers. The US still enjoys significant clout but it is being diminished as new poles of power appear. Russia’s global standing is obviously on the rise. Like it or not, one can’t change the reality. It’s sad that the US Ambassador to the UN lives in her fantasy world.