On February 10, Russia celebrates Diplomats’ Day, the professional holiday of the Foreign Ministry’s current and retired staff members. It was established by the Presidential Decree in 2002.The date is closely associated with the history of Russia’s first foreign affairs agency – the Ambassadorial Department, created on February 10, 1549, and headed by Ivan Viskovatyi, actually, the first professional organizer of the diplomatic service of the Russian State. Even though, the history of diplomatic ad-hoc relations traces its roots to the olden time of the Rus’, with its first capital in Kiev.
A modern professional diplomatic service appeared during the reign of Peter the Great, the first Russian Emperor. His reforms made the country part of the emergent European diplomatic system.In 1718, the Foreign Affairs Collegium, subordinated to the Senate, the country’s supreme institution of state authority, replaced the Ambassadorial Department. Compared to the modern Foreign Ministry, the new agency had a broad remit. Not only did the Collegium monitor diplomatic mission exchanges, but it also oversaw the affairs of Russia’s ethnic groups living in borderline regions.
Following the reforms of Emperor Alexander I, in 1802 the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was created. One-man management became an important innovation, with the Minister of Foreign Affairs replacing the Collegium’s members.Today Ministry’s structure has expanded considerably and now has over 40 departments, and more than 200 embassies, consulates, and representative offices abroad.
In 1856, Alexander Gorchakov was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Empire, and brilliant victories of Russian diplomacy are linked with his name. He managed to achieve the lifting of restrictions on Russia’s sovereignty over the Black Sea, resolutely upheld the rights of Christian nations in Turkey and prevented the threat of an all-out European war.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the Russian Empire’s diplomacy made an invaluable contribution to expanding the norms of humanitarian law. In 1898, Emperor Nicholas II initiated the first international disarmament conference in history. Its delegates met in The Hague and agreed to renounce the use of poison gases and explosive bullets. In 1907, delegates to the 2nd Hague Conference banned the use of the most barbaric means of warfare and established an international arbitration court, the oldest organization for resolving disputes between states by peaceful means.
In 1918, the People’s Commissariat for Foreign Affairs (NKID) began to implement the foreign policy of Soviet Russia. The Russian Empire’s diplomatic ranks were replaced with the single rank of Plenipotentiary Representative. A special institute, now the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Diplomatic Academy, was established to train NKID specialists.
In the 1920s, the Soviet Union won wide-ranging international recognition and established diplomatic relations with 25 countries. In the 1930s, the Soviet Union prioritized the establishment of a collective security system for Europe. Unfortunately, Great Britain and Germany prevented the implementation of this Soviet-French initiative.
During World War II, over 360 NKID employees volunteered to fight at the front, and many of them were killed in action. Diplomatic ranks and special uniforms were reinstated, and the NKID was again renamed the Foreign Ministry.
At that time, Soviet diplomacy did its best to strengthen the Anti-Hitler Coalition and to facilitate the opening of the Second Front in Europe. Following the defeat of Nazism, the Soviet Union became a great power and a pillar of the bipolar international order. The postwar European system was determined with the active involvement of high-ranking Soviet foreign policy officials, and it was also decided to establish the UN to safeguard future generations from the horrors of another world war.
Post-war Soviet diplomacy made a weighty contribution to supporting national-liberation movements in Asia, Africa and Latin America, to curbing the arms race and formalizing the principles of security and cooperation in Europe. Andrey Gromyko who headed the Foreign Ministry almost throughout the entire Cold War played a special role in the nuclear disarmament process.
Today, the Foreign Ministry of Russia is guided by the Concept of Foreign Policy of the Russian Federation as endorsed by the President of Russia on November 30, 2016. In accordance with this document Russian foreign policy is aimed at ensuring the country’s national security, sovereignty and territorial integrity, creating favorable conditions for sustainable economic growth, strengthening international peace and stability, enhancing the role of the UN, and developing bilateral and multilateral relations of mutually advantageous and equitable partnership with foreign states. The key principles of Russian foreign policy have remained unchanged: independence, openness, predictability, pragmatism, a multi-directional approach, and the upholding of national interests. Recently, the Foreign Ministry has prepared an updated draft of the Foreign Policy Concept of the Russian Federation which takes into account therecent global changes took occurred in international politics over the past five years, and now it is under consideration of the President.
Russian Diplomats’ Day gives us anopportunity to remember the past, think about the present and future of Russia’s diplomatic service, as well as look back at the Russia’s diplomatic performance in 2022.
On February 24, 2022 the Special Military Operation started. The aims of that Operation are to protect the civilian population of Donbass from the cruelties conducted by the Western-controlled puppet Nazi regime in Kiev, denazification and demilitarization of Ukraine as well as prevention from creation of any threat to the Russian borders, including Ukraine’s joining aggressive anti-Russian NATO. The US-sponsored forces that seized power in Ukraine by coup d’état in 2014 unleashed the civil war in that country to eliminate Russian minority and those who supported them and opposed impudent rewriting of history, abusive for every normal citizen, when criminals become heroes, and monuments for heroes are being broken by hooligans-in-power. So the Western powers’ interference once again has launched a proxy war, as they used to do in numerous cases, incited one part of people to another.
Russian diplomacy at the moment is facing challenges sprouting from the current process of the international order transformation. The Western powers after the collapse of the Soviet Union have imagined that it is their sole right to govern the whole world on their will. Checks and balances, that made then-system viable, were broken, leaving only several institutions alive not to make the entire life on Earth be the hell. The West launched a hypocritical policy of neocolonialism, using the tools of economic enslaving, manipulation over human rights, democracy and law. Now we are on the frontline of fighting for the new just world order, that will include prosperity for all nations, equal rights for every country all over the World, firm guarantees of security for all, as well as the basic role of the international law without any bite for those who claim themselves as “exclusives”.
Totally illegal unilateral sanctions imposed against the Russian Federation and aggression against our Motherland in economic, financial, information and cyber spaces prove that our demands are fully right and correct, and in 2023 we will continue to defend the right of all nations to live in a peaceful and just world. The enemy and its foreign sponsors will be defeated, and the truth will triumph over the hypocrisy and lie of our adversaries!