普京谈与中国的关系和美国单边主义

英国《金融时报》 莱昂内尔•巴伯 , 亨利•福伊 莫斯科报道
2019.07.01 12:00

快到午夜的时候,听到“风险”这个词,弗拉基米尔•普京(Vladimir Putin)的精神振作起来。这个词是他这个人及其20年掌权经历的缩影。

近年,俄罗斯在外交政策上进行了越来越多的豪赌,从军事干预叙利亚、吞并克里米亚,到企图干涉美国总统大选。他对风险的偏好是否在逐年上升?

“没有升高或降低。风险必须始终处于合情合理的水平,”他回答道,“但在人们可以使用俄罗斯流行语‘不冒险的人永远喝不上香槟’的时候就不是这样。”

他的回答带有典型的普京色彩:让人捉摸不透,还带有揶揄。但在一件事上,他确信自己做出了正确的选择,那就是叙利亚。“我相信它取得了良好正面的回报。我们取得的成就甚至超出了我的预期。”

除了杀死“数千名”伊斯兰主义武装分子和支撑巴沙尔•阿萨德(Bashar al-Assad)政权之外,他还提到,俄罗斯重新崛起为中东地区的一股力量,处于能够同以色列、沙特阿拉伯和伊朗等各方进行对话的独特地位。

“此外,我想公开谈一谈俄罗斯武装部队的动员,”他补充道,“我们的武装部队获得了从和平时期任何演练都无法获得的实战经验。”

持续8年的叙利亚内战已经导致50万人死亡,560万人成为难民,另有数百万人在国内流离失所。对这样一场浩劫给出这种就事论事的总结,突显了普京的自信。他相信俄罗斯已重新跻身于一流强国之列,而历史站在他这一边。

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自2014年吞并克里米亚以来,普京在国际上面临着多国一致孤立他的企图。但在20国集团(G20)大阪峰会举行前夕,在美国在世界上扮演的角色似乎从未像现在这样不确定之际,这位俄罗斯领导人仍在相当大程度上占据中心舞台。

在克里姆林宫内阁办公室(各个角落摆放着俄罗斯帝国(Imperial Russia) 4位最受尊敬的统治者的雕像)接受90分钟专访期间,这位曾经是克格勃(KGB)情报官的政治家愿意讨论任何主题。从基于规则的国际秩序的崩溃、中国崛起和自由派意识形态的终结,到俄英关系改善的前景,他侃侃而谈。

在G20峰会举行前夕,普京列举了全球稳定面临的多重风险。他特别指出了美国单边主义,首先是美国对华关税战和海湾地区爆发冲突的威胁。他表示:“坦率地说,形势肯定已变得更具戏剧性和爆炸性。”

这位俄罗斯领导人察觉到,政治力量平衡正在发生转变——从传统的西方自由主义转向民族民粹主义,其推动因素是公众对移民、多元文化主义和以牺牲宗教为代价的世俗价值观不满。

“难道我们忘记了,我们都生活在一个基于圣经价值观的世界吗?”普京问道,此言否定了卡尔•马克思(Karl Marx)有关宗教是人民的鸦片的名言。类似地,在俄罗斯总统看来,自由主义意识形态已经“过时了”。

碎片化是2019年的世界的特征。作为回应,普京与他的日益亲密的盟友、中国国家主席习近平一道,把自己标榜成全球化的啦啦队。对俄罗斯和中国来说,这是一个不太可能的角色,但这个角色也是把“美国优先”当作口头禅的唐纳德•特朗普(Donald Trump)总统的美国主动让出来的。

特朗普与中国的贸易冲突,以及美国牵头的针对俄罗斯的制裁,让北京方面和莫斯科方面更紧密地团结在一起。这两个欧亚国家曾经是相互抱有戒心的邻国,但如今它们已经在能源投资、贸易和防务合作的基础上结成了战略伙伴关系。

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自2012年习近平上台以来,普京与习近平的会晤多达28次。如今在西方几乎没有朋友的俄罗斯,是不是在中国这个篮子里放了太多鸡蛋?

“我们的鸡蛋足够多,但是没有太多的篮子可以放鸡蛋,”他回答道,“我们总是评估风险……俄罗斯和中国的政策并不针对任何人。”

后来他称赞中国“对伙伴和对手都表现出忠实和灵活性”——他对美国没有此类认可。

一些人认为美中之间的冲突是不可避免的。他们指出了当年处于主导地位的斯巴达与不断崛起的雅典之间的类似矛盾,即所谓的修昔底德陷阱(Thucydides trap)。

这位俄罗斯领导人的表态很谨慎。“但很难说美国是否会有足够的耐心,即使在有分歧的情况下也能避免做出任何草率决定,而是尊重其伙伴。”

普京对美国有很多尖刻言辞,但他对特朗普刻意礼貌,在采访中多次称他为“唐纳德”。“特朗普先生不是一名职业政客……我不认同他的很多解决问题的方法。但是你知道我是怎么想的吗?我认为他是一个人才。他非常了解选民对他的期望。”

普京不耐烦地驳斥了有关他策划干涉2016年美国总统大选的指控。他坚称,特朗普利用人们的反建制情绪和对全球化的反弹,凭借自己的实力赢得了大选。

他称:“俄罗斯遭到了指控,而且——尽管这听起来很奇怪——它仍然面临指控……被指干涉美国大选。实际上发生了什么?特朗普先生看透了对手对他的态度,并且看到了美国社会的变化,然后利用了这一点。”

特朗普的报答是不直接批评普京。两位领导人计划在G20大阪峰会期间会晤。问题在于,他们能否找到任何共同点,尤其是在军备控制方面——在这方面,冷战年代达成的、迄今支撑了核稳定的双边条约正在被撕毁。

美国指责俄罗斯违反了《中程导弹条约》(Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty),并通知莫斯科,如果俄罗斯不遵守该条约,美国将在8月2日退出。俄罗斯否认违反了该条约,还指责美国在欧洲部署导弹的行为违反了该条约。与此同时,另一项限制核弹头数量的条约《新削减战略武器条约》(New START)将于2021年到期。

普京向英国《金融时报》表示,特朗普在最近一次谈话中透露,美国有意延长《新削减战略武器条约》,但迄今没有采取任何行动。“因此,如果这项条约不复存在,世界上就没有任何手段来遏制军备竞赛了。这很糟糕。”

在普京被指责进行的多项冒险中,2018年在英格兰索尔兹伯里(Salisbury)企图谋杀俄罗斯前双面间谍谢尔盖•斯克里帕尔(Sergei Skripal)事件名列前茅。尽管距离此次神经毒剂袭击事件(伦敦方面将其归咎于莫斯科方面)已经过去了15个月,但普京仍表现出愤怒,称是时候翻开新的一页、向前看了。

“听着,所有这些关于间谍和反间谍的大惊小怪,不值得影响严肃的国家间关系。这个间谍故事,用我们的话来说,连5分钱都不值。”

虽然神经毒剂袭击事件没有杀死斯克里帕尔和他的女儿,但一名英国平民在接触了一个装有神经毒剂“诺维乔克”(Novichok)的香水瓶后死亡。英国官员表示,这种神经毒剂是在俄罗斯制造的。

这位俄罗斯领导人称:“相互指控和声称的清单可能会越来越长……我们需要做的就是不要多管,让安全部门来处理。”

在俄罗斯为委内瑞拉总统尼古拉斯•马杜罗(Nicolás Maduro)撑腰的问题上,普京也流露出同样的对国际社会批评的蔑视;马杜罗实际上建立了一个独裁政权。普京否认俄罗斯直接参与了支撑马杜罗,辩称这是西方宣扬的又一个恐俄阴谋论。他表示,在委内瑞拉境内的俄罗斯人只是军工承包商,为国防资产提供保养,并补充称,可能会派遣更多的承包商。

普京随即提到了西方大国推翻利比亚领导人穆阿迈尔•卡扎菲(Muammer Gaddafi)的事件以及随之而来的利比亚内战:“那么,我们为什么要在委内瑞拉做同样的事情?我们想要重拾炮舰外交吗?我们要它做什么?有必要在现代社会如此羞辱拉美国家,从外部强加政体或领导人吗?”

普京坚持认为这是委内瑞拉人民的事情,应该让他们自己去解决。至于被美国和其它西方国家政府承认为合法总统的反对派领袖胡安•瓜伊多(Juan Guaidó),普京表示:“他可能很棒,他的规划很好。但他走进一个广场宣告自己成为总统,这就足够了吗?”

在西方鼓动下爆发的俄罗斯人民起义对普京来说将是一场噩梦。他曾亲眼目睹东欧共产党政权的崩溃和苏联的解体,这使他长期对西方疑心重重,认为西方阴谋削弱他的政权。格鲁吉亚和乌克兰爆发的颜色革命、以及由美国领导的对伊拉克和利比亚的干预,使他进一步确信西方的恶毒意图。

就目前而言,普京在政治上看起来很强大,但其政权的弱点在于经济,在于难以摆脱的经济增长低迷和实际收入连续多年下降。

他表示:“但我们需要完成的最重要的任务是改变经济结构,并借助现代科技实现劳动生产率大幅提高。”

这一目标对于严重依赖石油和天然气的俄罗斯经济长期可望而不可即。增税以及不得人心的提高退休年龄(此举导致普京的支持率在今春跌至13年低点),正使俄罗斯民众感受到压力。但普京没有增加支出,而是在建立一只战争基金。

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俄罗斯央行的数据显示,该国外汇储备约为5000亿美元。他表示:“我们需要建立一个安全网,让我们感到自信……不要以为这笔钱只是闲置在架子上的。不,它为俄罗斯中期的经济稳定创建了一定的保障。”

这是一项昂贵的保险,而且适逢美国威胁要进一步对俄罗斯实施制裁。自2014年以来,俄罗斯日益被西方资本市场挡在门外。

就在上周,美国众议院外交事务委员会(Foreign Affairs Committee)通过了一项法律草案,拟对参与承建在俄罗斯和德国之间铺设的“北溪2号”(Nord Stream 2)天然气管道的实体实施制裁。此举将对俄罗斯关键的能源出口造成打击。

相信自己被真实和潜在敌人包围的普京,往往选择强势和咄咄逼人,而不是妥协和克制。他承认,自己最自豪的成就是在苏联混乱解体后恢复了俄罗斯国家的实力。他把苏联解体形容为“20世纪最大悲剧之一”。

普京并不怀念过去的共产党统治时期,他说当时“生活艰难”。普京表示,悲剧在于俄罗斯族人分散于苏联解体产生的多个新独立的国家。

“2500万俄罗斯族人生活在俄罗斯联邦境外。听着,这难道不是悲剧吗?一场巨大的悲剧!家庭关系呢?工作呢?旅行呢?这纯粹是一场灾难。”

在普京20年的领导生涯中,他付出了人力和财力代价,以纠正他眼中的历史错误。普京宣告,他最喜欢的领导人是彼得大帝(Peter the Great)。在内阁会议室,这位高瞻远瞩的沙皇的一尊青铜雕像俯视着普京的桌子。

彼得大帝在18世纪初建立了俄罗斯帝国,通过一系列的对外战争,征服了北至芬兰和波罗的海国家,南至黑海的土地。这是普京认为莫斯科必须不惜一切代价保护的势力范围;因此,他发自内心地反对北约(NATO)东扩至俄罗斯边境。

在谈到彼得大帝时,普京说:“只要他的影响还在,他就一直活着。”

普京还不能自称是他心目中的英雄那样伟大的国内改革家。他也没有表现出制定明确继任战略的迹象。宪法要求他在2024年卸任总统。

现年66岁的普京表示,他“从2000年起”就一直在考虑继任的问题,但如果他真这么做了,那么这必定是俄罗斯保守最严的秘密,也是对俄罗斯总统本人有些敏感的问题。

快到凌晨1点时,普京忍不住打出最后一拳,这一次的目标是英国执政的保守党选出新领导人接替特里萨•梅(Theresa May)的努力。鲍里斯•约翰逊(Boris Johnson)或杰里米•亨特(Jeremy Hunt)将在不举行大选的情况下成为英国首相。

“俄罗斯与英国的情况不同。我们是一个民主的国家。”普京说,“这种选择总是由俄罗斯人民做出的。”

事实上,普京是在1999年12月31日午夜钟声敲响时继承总统职位的,当时鲍里斯•叶利钦(Boris Yeltsin)提早卸任,并指定他为继任者。

在被提醒到这一点时,这位俄罗斯总统耸了耸肩说:“那又怎样?”

译者/何黎

原文:Putin: friendship with China, ‘Donald’ and the rise of national populism

By Lionel Barber,Henry Foy in Moscow

Just before midnight, Vladimir Putin perks up at the mention of the word “risk”. It encapsulates the man and his 20 years in power.

Latterly, Russia has embarked on a growing number of foreign policy gambles, from the military intervention in Syria, the annexation of Crimea and the attempted meddling in the US presidential election. Is his appetite for risk increasing with each passing year?

“It did not increase or decrease. Risk must always be well-justified,” he replies. “But this is not the case when one can use the popular Russian phrase: ‘He who doesn’t take risks, never drinks champagne’.”

His response is classic Putin: elusive and teasing. But on one issue, he is certain he made the right choice: Syria. “I believe that it has been a good and positive return. We have accomplished even more than I had expected.”

Aside from the killing of “several thousands” of Islamist militants and the shoring up of Bashar al-Assad’s regime, he cites the re-emergence of Russia as a power in the Middle East uniquely able to talk to all parties from Israel to Saudi Arabia and Iran.

“Besides, I would like to openly speak of the mobilisation of the Russian Armed Forces,” he adds. “Our Armed Forces have received such practical experience that they could not have obtained during any peacetime exercises.”

This matter of fact — some would say cynical — summation of an eight-year civil war that has led to the deaths of half a million people and caused 5.6m to become refugees and millions more to be internally displaced highlights the self-assurance of Mr Putin. Here is a man who believes Russia is back at the top table and that history is on his side.

Ever since the 2014 Crimea annexation, Mr Putin has faced a concerted attempt to isolate him internationally. But on the eve of the G20 meeting in Osaka, Japan and at a time when the US role in the world has never seemed more uncertain, the Russian leader is still very much at centre stage.

During a 90-minute interview in the Kremlin’s cabinet office, with statues of four of Imperial Russia’s most revered rulers looking on from each corner, the former KGB officer turned statesman took on all subjects. He ranged from the breakdown of the international rules-based order, the rise of China and the end of liberal ideology to the prospect of improved relations with the UK.

Ahead of the G20, Mr Putin highlights multiple risks to global stability. He singles out American unilateralism, starting with the tariff war against China and the threat of conflict in the Gulf. “To put it bluntly, the situation has definitely become more dramatic and explosive,” he says.

The Russian leader detects a shift in the political balance of power from traditional western liberalism to national populism, fuelled by public resentment about immigration, multiculturalism and secular values at the expense of religion.

“Have we forgotten that all of us live in a world based on biblical values?” asks Mr Putin, dismissing Karl Marx’s dictum that religion is the opium of the masses. Similarly, in the Russian president’s view, liberal ideology has “outlived its purpose”.

Fragmentation characterises the world of 2019. In response, Mr Putin casts himself as a cheerleader of globalisation alongside his increasingly close ally, President Xi Jinping of China. It is an improbable role for Russia and China, but one vacated by the US under President Donald Trump, who has made “America First” his mantra.

Mr Trump’s trade conflict with China, alongside US-led sanctions against Russia, have brought Beijing and Moscow closer together. Once wary neighbours, the two Eurasian powers have formed a strategic partnership based on energy investment, trade and defence co-operation.

Mr Putin has met Mr Xi 28 times since the latter took office in 2012. Is Russia — which has few friends left in the west — putting too many eggs in the Chinese basket?

“We have sufficient eggs but there are not too many baskets to put those eggs in,” he replies. “We always assess the risks . . . Russia and China are not directing their policy against anyone.”

Later he praises China for “showing loyalty and flexibility to both its partners and opponents” — an endorsement not extended to the US.

Some believe conflict is inevitable between the US and China. They point to the parallel between a dominant Sparta and a rising Athens, the so-called Thucydides trap.

The Russian leader is circumspect. “But it is hard to say whether the United States would have enough patience not to make any rash decisions, but to respect its partners even if there are disagreements.”

Mr Putin has plenty of harsh words about America but he is studiously polite about Mr Trump, referring to him as “Donald” several times in the interview. “Mr Trump is not a career politician . . . I do not accept many of his methods when it comes to addressing problems. But do you know what I think? I think that he is a talented person. He knows very well what his voters expect from him.”

Mr Putin wearily dismisses charges of orchestrated interference in the 2016 US presidential election campaign. He insists Mr Trump won in his own right by tapping the anti-establishment mood and the backlash against globalisation.

“Russia has been accused, and, strange as it may seem, it is still being accused  . . . of alleged interference in the US election. What happened in reality? Mr Trump looked into his opponents’ attitude to him and saw changes in American society, and he took advantage of this,” he says.

Mr Trump has reciprocated by not directly criticising Mr Putin. The two leaders are scheduled to meet at the G20 in Osaka. The question is whether they can find any common ground, notably on arms control, where bilateral cold war treaties that have underpinned nuclear stability are being torn up.

The US, accusing Russia of breaching the Intermediate Nuclear Forces treaty, has notified Moscow it will withdraw by August 2 in the absence of compliance. Russia denies it is in breach and accuses the US of counter-breaches though missile deployment in Europe. At the same time, a second treaty (New Start) limiting the number of warheads is nearing expiry in 2021.

Mr Putin tells the Financial Times that Mr Trump intimated in a recent conversation that the US was interested in extending New Start, but no initiative has been forthcoming. “So if this treaty ceases to exist, then there would be no instrument in the world to curtail the arms race. And this is bad.”

Of the many gambles Mr Putin is accused of taking, the attempted assassination of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal in Salisbury, England in 2018 ranks high. Even 15 months on from the nerve agent attack which London blames on Moscow, Mr Putin bristles and says it is time to move on.

“Listen, all this fuss about spies and counterspies, it is not worth serious interstate relations. This spy story, as we say, it is not worth five kopecks.”

While the nerve agent attack did not kill Mr Skripal nor his daughter, a member of the public died after coming into contact with a perfume bottle containing the nerve agent novichok, which British officials say was manufactured in Russia.

“The list of accusations and allegations against one another could go on and on . . .  We need to just leave it alone and let security agencies deal with it,” says the Russian leader.

The same disdain in the face of international criticism surfaces in relation to Russia’s backing for President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela who has installed an effective dictatorship. Mr Putin denies that Russia is directly involved in propping up Mr Maduro, arguing this is one more Russophobic conspiracy theory propagated by the west. The only presence of Russians are military contractors servicing defence assets, he says, adding that more could be sent.

Mr Putin immediately raises the toppling of Libyan leader Muammer Gaddafi by western powers and the ensuing civil war: “So why should we do the same in Venezuela? Do we want to revert to gunboat diplomacy? What do we need it for? Is it necessary to humiliate Latin American nations so much in the modern world and impose forms of government or leaders from the outside?”

The Russian leader insists this is a matter for Venezuelans to resolve for themselves. As for Juan Guaidó, the opposition leader recognised by the US and other western governments as the legitimate president, Mr Putin says: “He may be just wonderful, and his plans are good. But is it enough that he entered a square and proclaimed himself president?”

A popular uprising in Russia — encouraged by the west — is the stuff of nightmares for Mr Putin. Having witnessed first hand the collapse of communism in eastern Europe and the fall of the Soviet Union, he has long harboured suspicions of western conspiracies to undermine his regime. The colour revolutions in Georgia and Ukraine, as well as the US-led interventions in Iraq and Libya, have further convinced him of malign intentions.

For now, Mr Putin looks politically formidable. But his regime’s weakness lies in the economy, with stubbornly low growth and years of falling real incomes.

“But the most important task we need to achieve is to change the structure of the economy and secure a substantial growth of labour productivity through modern technologies.”

Such a goal has long eluded an economy heavily dependent on oil and gas. Russian citizens are feeling the pinch through higher taxes and an unpopular increase in the pension age which triggered a fall in Mr Putin’s trust rating to a 13-year low this spring. But rather than increasing spending, Mr Putin is building a war chest.

International reserves stand at about $500bn, according to the Russian central bank. “We need to create a safety net that would let us feel confident  . . . Do not think that this money is just sitting on the shelf. No, it creates certain guarantees for Russia’s economic stability in the midterm.”

This is an expensive insurance policy, but it comes amid the threat of further US sanctions against Russia, which since 2014 has found itself increasingly cut off from western capital markets.

Just this week the Foreign Affairs Committee in the US House of Representatives approved a draft law that would sanction entities involved in the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline being built between Russia and Germany — a move that would be a blow against critical energy exports.

Believing himself surrounded by real and potential enemies, Mr Putin has routinely chosen strength and aggression over compromise and restraint. His proudest accomplishment, he admits, is the restoration of the power of the Russian state after the chaotic collapse of the Soviet Union, an event he describes as “one of the greatest tragedies of the 20th century”.

Mr Putin has no yearning for the communism of the past, where, he says: “life was difficult”. The tragedy, he says, was the dispersal of ethnic Russians across the newly-independent successor states of the USSR.

“25m ethnic Russians found themselves living outside the Russian Federation. Listen, is this not a tragedy? A huge one! And family relations? Jobs? Travel? It was nothing but a disaster,”

Throughout the two decades of his leadership, Mr Putin has expended blood and treasure in efforts to rectify what he sees a historical wrong. His favourite leader, he declares, is Peter the Great. A towering bronze statue of the visionary tsar looms over his ceremonial desk in the cabinet room.

Peter the Great created the Russian empire around the turn of the 18th century with a series of foreign wars that conquered land from Finland and the Baltic states in the north, to the Black Sea in the south. This is the sphere of influence that Mr Putin believes Moscow must protect at all costs; hence his visceral opposition to Nato’s expansion eastward up to Russia’s borders.

Of Peter the Great, Mr Putin says: “He will live as long as his cause is alive.”

Mr Putin cannot yet claim to be a grand domestic reformer on the scale of his hero. Nor has he shown any sign of developing a clear succession strategy. The constitution requires him to stand down as president in 2024.

The 66-year-old says he has contemplated his succession “since 2000”, but if indeed he has, it is the most closely guarded secret in Russia and a matter of some sensitivity for the president himself.

As the clock ticks towards 1am, Mr Putin cannot resist one final jab, this time at the efforts of Britain’s ruling Conservative party to choose a new leader to succeed Theresa May. Either Boris Johnson or Jeremy Hunt will then become prime minister without a general election.

“It is different from what you have in Great Britain. We are a democratic country” he says. “The choice is always made by the Russian people.”

In fact, Mr Putin inherited the presidency on the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve 1999, when Boris Yeltsin stepped down from office prematurely and endorsed him as his successor.

When reminded of this, the president shrugs: “So what?”

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