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Russia and CIS: time to change strategies
Material posted: Publication date: 14-01-2014

Obsolete post-Soviet structures hinder the protection of the real Russian interests. Since the end of last year in the center of international attention were mass protests in Kiev. With high probability we can assume that Ukraine, despite the recent agreements with Russia, if not under the current President, so the next time you make a choice in favor of integration with the European Union. This, in turn, calls into question the effectiveness of foreign policy strategy of the Kremlin.

It is no secret that Vladimir Putin considers the collapse of the USSR as the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the XX century, and the implementation of integration projects in the post — Soviet space as its priority objective. In this regard, the final withdrawal of Ukraine to Europe is extremely sensitive to the pride of the Russian establishment.

Painful reaction to a possible deepening of cooperation between Ukraine and the EU shows how difficult for Russia was the process of disintegration — perhaps even more severe than held two decades ago, the collapse of the USSR. This applies not only to the political elite, but also society as a whole.

In the early 1990-ies in the Russian society was dominated by the idea that the republics of the former USSR "won't go anywhere".

In many respects therefore, overcoming centrifugal tendencies in Russia itself, the Kremlin has launched several integration projects on the territory of the sunk into Oblivion Soviet Union. Thus, in 1994 an Agreement was signed on the establishment of a free trade zone between Russia, Belarus and four Central Asian States; however, this agreement was not ratified by the parliaments of most member States and as a result remained unrealized. In the second half of 1990-ies there was created the Union state of Russia and Belarus, the functioning of which has been limited to the provision of official Moscow financial support to the authoritarian regime of Alexander Lukashenko, which played an important role in regime longevity.

In the 2000s, the Kremlin began to pay more attention to the CIS countries. In 2009 was born the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, and in 2012, the common economic space of three countries. The Russian authorities consider these projects as the integrating organizations of the Eurasian Union, where the term may include States of Central Asia.

However, the feasibility of creating these structures is not obvious.

In 2012 the volume of Russian exports to Ukraine amounted to $27 billion Is more than the total value of goods shipped in the same year Russia, in Kazakhstan ($14.5 billion), Kyrgyz Republic ($1.6 billion), Uzbekistan ($2.3 billion), Turkmenistan ($1.2 billion) and Tajikistan ($0.6 billion). Moreover, Central Asia is a transit region for drug dealers from Afghanistan. According to the UN office on drugs and crime, in 2010 in Russia through the territory of five Central Asian States received 90 tons of heroin. Russia is much more important to have with Kazakhstan fortified border, rather than a free trade zone, through which can easily enter going through Central Asia Afghan drug trafficking. In addition, if the Russian authorities really want to improve the business climate, they are unlikely to choose as the closest partners of the country, where gosudarstvenno regulates the price (Belarus) or shoot striking workers of oil companies (Kazakhstan).

Unfortunately, the Russian elite does not seem to realize how disastrous for the country is a neo-Imperial project. A vivid example — the position of the President on the issue of introducing visas for Central Asia and the Caucasus. Due to tremendous difference in wealth between the cities of Russia, on the one hand, and urban and rural locality of the Central Asian States, on the other, millions of people in Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan tend to move on a constant residence in the metropolis of the former Soviet Empire. They only need to take the passport of their native country and take the train in the direction of Moscow. As a result of enormous influx of Central Asian migrants in major Russian cities – from St. Petersburg to Vladivostok. This, in turn, worries the citizens. According to a July poll by the Levada center, conducted in 130 settlements of 45 regions of the country, for the introduction of the visa regime towards the countries of the former Soviet South expressed 84% of Russians. At the same time Vladimir Putin last October stated that to implement this measure because thereby Russia will alienate a number of countries-members of CIS.

As can be seen, the current strategy of the Russian authorities in the post-Soviet space are far from effective. On the one hand, the Kremlin has a strong political pressure on countries seeking to build a close partnership with the United Europe, which is extremely negative impact on the perception of Russia by citizens of these States. On the other hand, official Moscow, at the expense of the Russian taxpayers, provides a large-scale credits, grants and benefits to those former Soviet republics, elite which the words Express loyalty to the Kremlin. This, in turn, is a powerful brake on institutional change that would partially solve socio-economic problems of those States. Finally, the authorities of the most troubled countries of the region — Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan — literally pushed its population to work in Russia, which causes resentment among the majority of its citizens.

To change this situation requires not only learn to respect the sovereignty of the republics of the former USSR, but also to rethink the very basis of existence of the Russian state: its goal should be not potestas control of Eurasia, and the preservation of the Russian nation, which includes everyone for whom Russian language and culture are native, regardless of ethnic origin. Based on this, the national interests of Russia do not correspond to the implementation of integration projects in the post-Soviet space and strengthen its southern borders along with the establishment of equal and equivalent relations with culturally close countries. The latter, in turn, important for the conservation of the habitat of the Russian language; as the example of India, the first after independence, the then refused the use of the English language, but then again who made it the second state, the achievement of this goal is possible only under rigid guarantees of non-interference in internal Affairs obtained the sovereignty of the colony from its former metropolis.

With regard to Central Asia, here it is critical to promote the renewal processes of modernization: the region, published in the Soviet period from the archaic, in the last two decades immersed in it again. Country located South of Kazakhstan, a critical need to conduct complex economic and political and legal reforms, and Russia, with its considerable experience of post-Communist transformation, can provide intellectual and financial assistance in their implementation.

But the implementation of these tasks is possible outside of existing structures, including the CIS, representing obsolete a century the Institute.

The dissolution of the CIS, Customs Union and Union state, a move that could help avoid the perception of relations of Russia and the republics of the former USSR as the interaction centre of the Empire and its periphery. This, in turn, will allow the country finally to lose the Imperial burden, to focus on internal modernization required for entry into the community of developed market democracies.


Source: Forbes.EN

Tags: assessment , CIS

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