For the past few years, Russia has been several steps ahead of the West, particularly as far as diplomacy and public relations are concerned. These are areas of human endeavour that interest me greatly, one reason being that most people or institutions do not seem to have the faintest idea of how to behave so as to gain the maximum benefit from their actions, while a very few follow what I believe is the most obvious and natural course in conducting their affairs, rightly acquiring all the credit and soft power that results from such deeds.
President Obama recently expelled 35 Russian diplomats from the USA, so a waiting world naturally expected Russia to respond in exactly the same way, following a dreary precedent set decades ago in these matters. Such a response would have been a predictable end for what most of us in the West regard as an awful twelve months and had this happened, we would surely have entered the New Year shrouded in deep gloom on account of the fact that the world’s two superpowers were openly at each other’s throats.
Instead, President Putin’s response was simple and astonishing. He said that Russia would not stoop to the level of irresponsible diplomacy, but would work to restore ties with the US under President Elect Trump. Furthermore, he refused to expel any diplomats from Russia, instead extending an invitation to the children of all American diplomats in Russia to attend a New Year’s Eve party in the Kremlin, then he ended his statement by wishing Barack Obama and his family a happy New Year, as well as Mr Trump and “the whole American people”.
I am aware of the details of the machinations of power at the highest levels, so I am under no illusions about the nature of these things. However, after a year as awful and as exhausting as the cursed 2016 has been, I am truly delighted at that least one world leader has chosen to conduct himself in such a way as to bring a notable level of relief and good cheer to those of us not fortunate enough to be in a position to shape world events and the planet’s mood.
So, on this uplifting note, I wish everyone a peaceful, prosperous and happy New Year.