vrijdag, juni 30, 2006

"Intelligence Brief: Russia's Moves in Syria" door PINR, 30 juni 2006.

In early June, the Russian newspaper Kommersant reported Moscow's decision to establish naval bases in the Syrian ports of Tartus and Latakia. The Russian Defense Ministry officially denied the report, even though more than one source confirmed it.

As part of the plan, the port of Tartus would be transformed into a naval base for Russia's Black Sea Fleet when it is away from the Ukrainian port of Sevastopol. The Russian plan involves the installation of an air defense system with S-300PMU-2 Favorit ballistic missiles. The missiles have a range of 200 kilometers (124 miles), allow a larger warhead and are equipped with a better guidance system than the previous version. The air defense system would be operated by Russia for the defense of the Tartus base and would provide potential protection for a large part of Syria. Through these initiatives, it is clear that Russia wants to strengthen its position in the Middle East.

Russia is searching for a new role in the diplomatic balance in the Middle East and a decision to move into Syria is a step on the path toward increasing its influence in the region. Syria seems to be the best target for this approach because of Damascus' heightened weakness as a result of its international isolation that was reinforced after the U.S. intervention in Iraq and Syria's withdrawal from Lebanon. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is searching for allies to move the country out of isolation. This increases its incentive to turn to Moscow, even if this relationship will not be as strong as it was during the Cold War era. For Russia, its increasing ties with Syria provide Moscow with added leverage in the region. [See: "Russia's Future Foreign Policy: Pragmatism in Motion"]

During the first five years of Putin's presidency, Moscow and Damascus did not share close relations; since the beginning of 2005, however, that situation changed. In the last two years, Russia has built a closer relationship with Syria. The country is an important cash-buyer of Russian arms and an interesting partner for Russia's energy industries. Moreover, Putin is searching for a stronger role in the Israeli-Arab peace process; Russia's February 2006 meeting with Hamas is a clear example of this policy. Through that meeting, Russia tried to seize the initiative from the United States and the European Union, with the latter two's decision-making about the future of the peace process paralyzed by Hamas' election victory. [See: "Intelligence Brief: Recognizing Hamas, Iran Welcomes Shi'a Control in Iraq"]

The increase of Syrian strategic dependence on Russia will strengthen Moscow's political role in the region, even if Russian arms sales to Syria risk damaging the good relations built with Israel in recent years. Of course, stronger Russian influence in Syria could be used by Putin in a dual way. For example, if Russia needs to improve relations with Israel and the United States, it could possibly compel Syria to take a softer approach toward these countries. On the flip side, if Russia needs to increase pressure on these countries, it can use Syria as its arm for this purpose.

When connecting these latest initiatives in Syria to Russia's good ties with Iran, it is clear that Moscow is planning on playing a stronger role in the political and diplomatic dynamics of the Middle East.

Another reason why Moscow wishes to preserve the Bashar government's stability is to guarantee Russian economic contracts in the country. For example, in December 2005 Russia and Syria signed an important agreement worth US$370 million in the gas sector. This agreement presupposes the construction of a section of pipeline that ends in the Syrian city of Ar Rayyan, and of a gas processing plan next to Palmyra, built by Stroitransgaz -- Russia's most important engineering company in the oil and gas industry. The gas industry is one of the economic sectors in which the relationship between the two countries is growing. Commercial ties are also increasingly strong in the military and oil sectors.

Moreover, from Russia's point of view, Bashar's good relationship with pro-Russian Chechen groups is an important guarantee for Russian homeland security. A Sunni fundamentalist regime in Damascus is seen as a threat for Moscow because it will probably give financial and logistical support to terrorist groups operating in the Chechen conflict. The need for a stable, Bashar-led regime is also shared by Israel and the United States because the Syrian regime could be replaced by one that is more radical and more of a threat to U.S. and Israeli interests.

Moscow is in search of a new role in the Middle East. Russia is trying to moderate U.S. dominance of the international system, and the Middle East is a focal point of this strategy. Putin knows that modern-day Russia does not have the same assets as the former Soviet Union to influence the diplomatic dynamics of the Middle East, but he wishes to use every window of opportunity to increase Russian power. Decisions such as helping Syria, having a more decisive role in the Israeli-Arab peace process and playing a primary role in the Iranian nuclear affair are steps on the path to strengthen Russia's position in the Middle East and to increase Moscow's power to better serve its national interests.

The Power and Interest News Report (PINR) is an independent organization that utilizes open source intelligence to provide conflict analysis services in the context of international relations. PINR approaches a subject based upon the powers and interests involved, leaving the moral judgments to the reader.

donderdag, juni 29, 2006

Defining the “Post-Soviet Space” door Peter LAVELLE op Russia Profile, september 2005.

Contributors: Peter Rutland, Janusz Bugajski, Gordon Hahn, Dale Herspring, Vladimir Frolov, Andrei Tsygankov, Eric Kraus, Patrick Armstrong, Ira Straus and Donald Jensen

Peter Lavelle: The term “Post-Soviet Space” is used a lot in Russia, although the meaning is not always immediately clear. Does the term apply only to the geographic area that was once part of the Soviet Union or regimes that have yet to completely free themselves from the Soviet mindset (i.e. style of rule)? Often among Russian political thinkers, the “post-Soviet space” is another term used under the rubric of “Eurasianism” – a non-Western imperial project that will allow small former Soviet republics to “retain their identity” under Russia's big umbrella.

First, is it time to retire the term “post-Soviet space” for something much more refined? After all, many of the new independent states that were part of the Soviet Union have taken very different developmental (political and economic) trajectories.

Second, and in brief, does “Eurasianism” as part of Russia’s foreign policy (as opposed to some kind of messianic “civilizing mission”) make any sense under conditions of globalization?

Third, wouldn’t it be better to use the appellation “post-Soviet economic development zone”? There is always a lot of media heat, but little light, when it comes to military bases and pipelines. Not nearly as much attention, however, is devoted to the economic development of the former Soviet states. During Vladimir Putin’s presidency, Russia has very aggressively pursued policies to integrate its neighbors – usually by use of energy exports and mineral resource extraction technologies. This makes perfect economic and business sense – a country’s national interests simply demands that it take advantage of competitive advantages.

Thus, shouldn’t we be more focused on economic development as opposed to over-dramatized and easy to over-play political developments? Would this approach basically undercut the terms “post-Soviet space” and “Eurasianism?”

Peter Rutland, professor of political science at Wesleyan University:

Yes, it is definitely time to retire the term “post-Soviet space.” Some countries in the “post-Soviet space” have completed their post-soviet purgatory, while other nations have hardly begun the process. Another problem is that in English (and for that matter in Russian), the word “space” connotes an empty void. Not a very constructive approach to studying a region.

“Eurasia” has so much political baggage that it too should be avoided. If it must be invoked, always use it along with another term (“Eurasian landmass,” “Eurasian heartland”) to make clear that it is a geographical and not a metaphysical term.

Now that the Poles, Czechs, Slovaks and Hungarians are members of the European Union, the “Eastern Europe” label is available and can be used to designate the eastern neighbors of the EU – Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova. From a geographical point of view, this is the logical way to go. The problem is that “Eastern Europe” sounds rather tired, and smacks of the Cold War. But if we start using it with this new designation, it could catch on. And neologisms (“outer Europe”?) seem phony. I don't see any real objections to calling Central Asia “Central Asia,” or the Caucasus “the Caucasus.”

Janusz Bugajski, director of the East Europe Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington:

Loaded political terms constantly repeated by politicians, journalists, and commentators become accepted wisdom and affect perceptions. In the case of terms referring to international arrangements and the status of individual countries, such perceptions infect political relations and policy decisions. Several terms have survived the Soviet Union or were created after its demise by leaders and opinion-makers, who support Russian interests ahead of the country's many neighbors. They have been manipulated by the government in Moscow to perpetuate the notion of an eternal Russian sphere of culture, society, politics, security, and economic interests that transcends the current frontiers of the Russian Federation. Such language helps to foster the Kremlin's imperialist designs along Russia's borders.

”Post-Soviet space” is intended to cement several lasting perceptions. First, that there is a coherent geographic and political territory that is distinct from Europe and NATO and that this “space” should be excluded from Western integration. Second, that such a territory has a natural center and a consistent leadership in Moscow regardless of any particular ideology or policy. Third, that it is incumbent on Russia to protect and secure this “space” and to pursue its “civilizing mission,” which can be cultural, political, or even economic. President Putin taps into such sentiments when adopting the role of a benevolent Great Russia leader.

”Post-Soviet space” may be interchangeable with “Eurasia,” but the terms are not synonymous. “Eurasianism” has additional connotations as it inflates Russia to an even larger dimension as a counterpart to both Europe and Asia or, even more grandly, as the only power capable of spanning and integrating both continents. “Eurasianism” as identity also implies Russia's defense of distinct countries that are allegedly threatened by Westernism, Americanism, and globalization, even if these countries lie outside the “post-Soviet space.”

”Eurasianism” also has an Orthodox and mystical component as the Kremlin seeks to benefit from the Church's traditional assertions about a unique Russian spirituality that supposedly transcends the “material West.” This non-materialism may even include non-Orthodox believers in the mythical “Eurasia,” especially if they view Russian national interests as paramount or display a healthy dose of anti-Americanism. Such distorted and simplified images of a “Russian soul” may seem comical in the West, but they have resonance among citizens who are reassured by state and Church propaganda that they are different, special, or even superior to foreigners, particularly Americans and Europeans.

It is time for Western governments to discard the “post-Soviet space" and “Eurasia” terminology. Both terms are inaccurate and insulting to the residents of diverse countries with divergent aspirations. Such terms also create a strong impression that Washington and Brussels will keep these states at a distance and accepts the premise that they should remain subservient to Russian national interests. Inventing new “post-Soviet” terms simply serves two purposes – it helps promote Moscow's interests above that of its many neighbors and it substitutes thoughtful analysis with lazy thinking.

Gordon Hahn, independent scholar on Russia and related affairs:

I see no particular reason to retire the term as yet. The commonalities between the post-Soviet states – what Stephen Kotkin termed “Trashcanistan” – with some possible rare exceptions (the Baltic states), still hold: deep, endemic corruption; poverty; and authoritarianism (with a few weak and unconsolidated democracies) rooted in the persistence of the Soviet communist nomenklatura and/or its children dominating positions of political and economic power.

It should be remembered that, except perhaps again for the Baltic states and parts of Russia, none of the areas in the region where there are now states had gone through the industrializing modernization process before the Soviet totalitarian experiment and were then subjected to the perversities of that experiment, which produced a forced artificial modernization process, which is unique to this “space,” except for perhaps other areas (China, North Korea, Vietnam) which could also be considered as part of the Eurasian space, depending on one’s definition (though probably not according to a truly Gumilyovian one).

It seems to me that many, though not all, of those who found the term objectionable, did so because there was an ideological rather than scientific reason. I mean a certain group of analysts who are, for perhaps lack of a better term, “Russophobic.” They consider Russia to have no business seeking, no less having influence in the region. It should be pushed out by NATO expansion and even EU expansion and left alone, hopefully to break up into a group of small bickering Russian states.

On the usefulness or logic of Eurasianism as a strand or even the foundation of Russian foreign policy in the “space” in conditions of globalization, it all depends on what one means by Eurasianism. If it means simply using some understanding or concept of historical, ethno-cultural, even civilizational commonalities among the peoples and/or states find themselves in the post-Soviet or Eurasian space without a political or economic agenda, then it seems it could be useful, assuming those commonalities exist (some of which no doubt do). However, the common historical experience as well as ethnic, cultural, and civilizational factors create divisions within, as well as unite the “space.” If this means a political project aimed at a union state, confederation, or even customs union, these have clearly proven unrealistic at present. There is certainly no need for a “Eurasianist” or “non-Western imperial project that will allow small former Soviet republics to ‘retain their identity’ under Russia's big umbrella,” except perhaps if, in the early 1990s, it was based on a short-term democratization project led by the West and Russia in partnership. Otherwise, any such project is likely to be a new form of Russian imperialism, which none of Russia, its neighbors or the world needs.

On the other hand, as I have written elsewhere, if the “Eurasian idea” could be adopted to the economic imperative of globalization – using Russia’s geographical position and relative economic weight within the “space” to foster strong economic ties, growth, and development for all – and transformed into a largely economic Eurasianism, then perhaps international economic and then decades down the road political international organizations might evolve.

Dale Herspring, professor of political science at Kansas State University. Herspring is a military scholar and retired career diplomat, as well as a U.S. Navy Captain (ret.):

In Alice in Wonderland, Humpty Dumpty comments, “the words I use have the meaning I give to them.” To be honest, I don't care whether or not writers use the term Post-Soviet. On the other hand, Humpty Dumpty was right – they have an obligation to define the term because as Peter Lavelle’s question pointed out, the fact is that the term is being used differently by different people. To be honest, I don't really know what it means.

For example, look at the military sphere. Does “post-Soviet militaries” refer to the three Baltic Republics? After all, they are now part of NATO? What about the now independent militaries in Central Asia, or the Transcaucus? If so, what is the writer trying to indicate? That they came from the Soviet Army and, therefore, that they should be looked at differently from other militaries? If so, in what ways? They are not the only militaries that use Soviet equipment, nor are they the only ones who have followed Soviet-type organizational patterns? Or are we talking about a mind-set that is based on the Soviet military? My point is that if one decides to use the term, that is fine, but it needs to be defined so the reader understands what the writer is implying.

I am not sure what Eurasianism means. Here again, much depends on the definition. Frankly, while I recognize that Russia's relations with some countries in Asia are different from those elsewhere, I think a good argument could be made that Moscow's most important foreign relations are with Europe and the United States. I think far too much was made of the recent Chinese-Russian military maneuvers and the sale of Russian weapons to Beijing. Asia is important to Moscow, but Putin is aware that the West holds much more importance over the long run.

Finally, I agree with Peter Lavelle. I don't know what the “post-Soviet economic development zone” refers to. Why not call and ace and ace. Why not speak of Russian economic and political ties, and then evaluate them in accordance of importance, regardless of whether they are in Asia or Europe. Of course, Moscow is going to try to tie the countries of Central Asia (and elsewhere) to itself using oil and gas, for example.

In the end, we need to go back to Humpty Dumpty regardless of what term we use and define it.

Vladimir Frolov, Fund for Effective Politics, Moscow:

I have never seen much value in using the terms “Post-Soviet space,” “the Near Abroad,” “the Former Soviet States” or “the New Independent States.” Their sole advantage is in allowing for an effective sound bite in political commentary and diplomatic cable traffic. Although the political and socio-economic similarities between those states are clearly there, they are not the drivers that determine their evolution and post-Soviet transition. Local dynamics and players are much more important.

It is probably more apt to talk about some common regional patterns (Baltic states, Central Asian “Stans” – Kazakhstan standing alone with meaningful economic reform, Russia and Ukraine – Anders Aslund would disagree with this, Georgia-Armenia, Azerbaijan as somewhat distinct). But, even there, differences are no less and may be even more important that similarities. As for relationships with Russia and other big powers, no clearly identifiable common pattern emerges (the Baltic states being the exception).

It is clear that Moscow no longer sees much value in lumping those states together. Almost all “intergrationist projects” are either frozen or are proceeding on a bilateral or trilateral basis. The Kremlin’s latest proposal to the West to set transparent rules of the game in the region can only be implemented on a country-by-country basis.

However, the term will linger on for a while. It is convenient for explaining the complexities of the region by the media to the disengaged public.

Eurasianism is a more complex notion that dates back to early 20th century Russian political thinking. However, its value as a mobilizing political strategy in Russia’s foreign policy is limited – it inspires relatively few Russians – and it could hardly be adapted to the complex realities of the modern world. It has lackluster support even in the states that could be described as swayed by the notion – Russia and Kazakhstan. Ukraine does not consider itself a Eurasian country, and it is unfathomable for Russia to pursue a geopolitical project that would permanently exclude Ukraine – the ties between the two countries are much stronger than between the United States and Canada, for instance. So putting much stock in Eurasianism is a losing proposition for Russia.

It is high time for Russia and the West to view the region as a long-term development project. The expansion of Russian big business into the Former Soviet Union should be welcomed as the most realistic development proposition (remember that before Russian electricity monopoly UES’ takeover of Georgia’s electricity generation system in 2003 an American company had utterly failed to make it a viable business). Some FSU states are clearly failing (Moldova, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan), and will need serious development aid to survive. Putin’s call on the G-8 to make development aid to the region an important item on the Moscow G-8 summit agenda is a very important step in the right direction. Focusing on demographic trends and health issues, including the HIV/AIDS epidemic, in the region could be “the next big thing” on the Russia-West cooperation agenda for the future.

Andrei Tsygankov, professor of international relations, San Francisco State University:

Concepts of the post-Soviet space and Eurasianism are indeed outdated. In the late 1990s, both concepts obtained hegemonic meanings and now hinder Russia’s adaptation to the realities of greater economic openness and political and cultural pluralism in the world. That said, however, new global realities have not wiped out some historically built structural inter-dependencies of a cultural and economic nature in the region. Energy, transportation, linguistic, ethnic, and family ties will continue to unite the region despite the diverse political trajectories of the newly independent states. Nor has the brave new world of globalization abolished national interests and competition for power, resources and prestige in international politics. By virtue of its size, resource endowment, and position as the former imperial center, Russia has considerable advantages over many other competitors. After a decade of identity crisis, it has begun to strengthen its influence and now works harder than ever to mobilize its soft power in the region – a subject we addressed in one of our previous panels. Structural dependencies and inter-dependencies are not things that can be cut short overnight, and they will continue to be of assistance in the gathering of Russia’s new influence for many years to come.

Finding a suitable analytical replacement may, therefore, be quite a challenge. For quite some time Russians have tried to come to grips with realities of a globalizing, yet regionally inter-dependent and nationally sensitive world. Vladimir Lukin and Sergei Stankevich introduced the notion of liberal statism, arguing that market economy and political democracy should be viewed as compatible with distinct state interests. Aleksandr Panarin pioneered the idea of civilized Eurasianism, which, in his early writings, was respectful of democracy and human rights, but saw Eurasianism as the region’s cultural and geopolitical distinctiveness. Gleb Pavlovsky coined another term “Euro-East” – seeking to position the ex-Soviet world as open to European influences, yet poised to preserve a special influence. Along the same lines, the head of the Russia’s state electricity company, Anatoly Chubais, wrote that the main goal in the 21st century should be to build up a “liberal empire” through the strengthening of Russia’s position in the former Soviet Union. In their own way, “liberal statism,” “civilized Eurasianism,” “Euro-East,” and “liberal imperialism,” have each sought to address the global-regional-national nexus and propose a way to connect with global values, while preserving a historically special regional and national identity.

These of course are Russian notions, and they reflect Russian perspectives on developments in the region. Many in Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova view them with suspicion and feel threatened by prospects of Russia’s soft power patronage. Undoing the legacy of cultural fears and imperial misperceptions takes a long time. Until this happens, Russia is likely to be suspect, whatever its genuine intentions are and whatever concepts or ideas it produces regarding the spatial organization in the region. Therefore if the appellation “post-Soviet economic development zone” comes from Russia, it, too, is likely to be perceived by some outsiders as a new imperialist project similar to those of the old Eurasianism and the post-Soviet space.

Eric Kraus, chief strategist, Sovlink Securities, Moscow:

The term “post-Soviet space” seems fairly useless indeed, and should be abandoned. This “space” comprises a disparate group of countries, highly divergent in terms of history, economic development and cultural attraction. Some of them are indeed drawing closer to Russia, while others have pulled away. While some have legitimate historical grievances, it is probably time to out-grow these – Russia's own historical grievances (since the early 19th century, she has been totally devastated three times by Western armies) have been put aside. The Poles and Lithuanians could learn from her example.

What is perhaps unfortunate is that, in the understandable haste to atone for past errors, the first post-Soviet governments surrendered not just Soviet domination of countries with no obvious ties to Russia, but also, Russia's legitimate security concerns. It is totally unacceptable that speakers of Russian should be reduced to the status of non-persons in the Baltic, nor that Ukraine's historic and cultural links with Russia be denied. One can imagine how the United States would react to a hostile Russian-sponsored regime taking power in Mexico (certainly, a case could be made that massive human rights violations in some of the United States’s southern neighbors necessitate international intervention…). In the case of Cuba, the world came to the brink of nuclear war before they were forced to acknowledge its continued existence.

Despite a couple of major diplomatic failures, off the front pages, Russia is working to knit her immediate neighbours into a closer regional cooperation. Certainly, many of them are dependant upon Russian energy and access to Russian markets – it is natural that closer political ties develop on this basis. Countries which adopt an openly anti-Russian line certainly no longer need live in fear of Russian tanks – on the other hand, they should certainly not expect to receive heavily subsidized Russian gas. If the United States and the European Union wish to adopt them, then they should be ready to shower generous subsidies on them – thus far, they have proved singularly disinclined to do so. Having won their quick political victories, the Americans left Ukraine to be farmed by her new oligarchic owners – the promised economic aid was forgotten as a rather over-extended United States went back to trying to extinguish fires. The European Union is equally stretched, and certainly has no desire to inherit the tutelage of Eastern neighbours in economic collapse.

Russia faces a steep learning curve in terms of diplomacy and communications. While there is no reason to suspect imperialistic ambitions, for historic reasons she will be viewed with some measure of suspicion. It would behove her to work on building mutually beneficial relations with her near abroad with some measure of sensitivity and tact. Mr. Putin’s administration makes mistakes, but they also show a refreshing tendency to learn from those mistakes.

Patrick Armstrong, defense analyst for the Canadian government:

I can think of at least two meanings of “post-Soviet space.” The first simply refers to the 15 countries formerly locked up in the Soviet Union. People in the Kremlin, who yearn for a world in which Moscow had its group and Washington had its, dress this up as "Eurasianism" to make it look if such a grouping is natural and right. The anti-Russia lobby also likes to trot it out to beat Moscow. Other than that, the expression doesn't seem to have a lot of meaning.

The second application, which does correspond to any reality, refers to those countries that used to live under Marxism-Leninism and under Moscow's influence or control. This group would include the former Soviet Union and former Warsaw Pact and its territory runs, therefore, from the old inter-German border far to the east. In this case, the expression “post-Soviet space” can remind us that their common problems have common causes. They have the same problems: obsolete industries, a great deal of pollution, venal and idle – but ever-increasing - bureaucracies, endemic corruption, low birth rates, high death rates, unemployment, collapsed social services, decayed physical infrastructure, creepy new rich and criminal-business-political connections.

In many cases they have armed forces with mounds of obsolete and unnecessary equipment presided over by underpaid and nostalgic generals. In many cases there are presidents-for-life and show democracies.

Ethnic tension is frequently high thanks to the Leninist nationalities policy that created itches that could not be scratched. Social atomism created by totalitarianism remains in many places. In short, what this “post-Soviet space” shares is negative: Even the economic links between them exist because there is no alternative. Different countries, to be sure, have these problems in different degrees and are solving them – or not – at different rates. But a common family of problems, which can all be traced back to Marxism-Leninism and its rule, can be seen throughout this “post-Soviet space." So, in this sense, there is some use in keeping the expression around for a while.

Ira Straus, U.S. coordinator of the Committee on Eastern Europe and Russia on NATO:

All “spaces” have problematic aspects, but “post-Soviet space” is a term that reflects a deep reality. It is, to be sure, only one of several spaces traversing Eurasia that reflect overlapping or mutually embedded realities.

What really needs to be clarified is "Eurasianism." It has two very different forms, and a lot of hysteria has been created about Russia by confusing the two.

1. Ideological Eurasianism. This Eurasianism has been expounded as a geopolitical-spiritual ideology by writers like Alexander Dugin, building on Nazi geopolitical theorists, with Atlanticism as its designated enemy. It is intended as an alternative to the mainstream Westernizing line of Russian development for the last several decades.

2. Pragmatic Eurasianism. This Eurasianism is expounded by leading figures such as Chernomyrdin and Putin. It accepts the facts of geographical life for Russia, which is located with its head and population in Europe and its large barren rear end in Asia. It speaks of paying good attention to Russia's Asian, as well as its European relations and interests.

Pragmatic Eurasianism does not oppose Europeanism. It continues with Atlanticism – accommodation to and cooperation with Atlantic global leadership, and seeking Russia's integrated place as a part of this leadership – as the core of Russia's global strategic and socio-political orientation. It has headed off the Ideological Eurasianists by making a point of paying attention to the things they accuse the Atlanticists of neglecting. It has thereby provided a more relaxed and sustainable language for proceeding with the Atlantic orientation after the early 1990s enthusiasm for it had dissipated.

Pragmatic Eurasianism is not a global identity but a regional identity of Russia, on a par with Russia's European regional identity. Both of these identities are inevitable for Russia. They can be fully reconciled only by subsuming them within Atlanticism, which is located on a wider plane as an inter-regional civilizational identity and a base for operations on the global scale.

Russian society is more European than Asian, just as the United States is more European than Native American. But Russian foreign policy can be no more purely Europeanist at the expense of its Asian connections than American foreign policy could be purely Europeanist at the expense of its inter-American connections.

When some Westerners demand that Russia renounce all Eurasianism for the sake of Atlanticism, they make a bad mistake, obstructing Russia from proceeding with Atlanticism. Such a renunciation of local-regional interests is something no other country in the Atlantic Alliance has been asked to make, and for good reason: If they were, there could be no Atlantic Alliance.

Some Russian Atlanticists also oversimplify, trying to settle domestic political scores by anathematizing all Eurasianism. So do some Eastern European nationalists and their co-ethnics in America, using salami tactics: first anathematize as un-Atlantic the necessary element of Eurasianism in Russia, then anathematize as Eurasianist and un-Atlantic any Eastern Europeans or post-Soviets who see the need for cooperation with Russia.

Despite all these pressures for reduction to two-camp thinking, the remarkable fact is that responsible Russian leaders have for more than a decade refused to yield, holding to a primary Atlantic orientation on the global scale and a dual Euro-Eurasianist focus on the regional scale. And Western governments have resisted the pressures to anathematize Russia for this. It indicates that there is a possibility of moving further in this period with Russia-West cooperation in the post-Soviet space and with the reconciliation of Eurasianism and Atlanticism.

Donald Jensen, director of communications, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty:

The term post-Soviet space means many things to many people. It is a geographic area comprising the rough expanse of the former Soviet Union (I am never sure whether it is supposed to include East Central Europe). It can refer to the authoritarian states on Russia's periphery whose elites still maintain neo-Soviet regimes. As you implied, it is a euphemism justifying Moscow's retention of a sphere of influence in that part of the world. Above all, it is it is an unfortunate oversimplification that ignores an increasingly diverse group of countries. It is time to retire the phrase and, as importantly, to make sure we do not begin to substitute the word Eurasianism, which suffers to an even greater degree from the same problems.

Even within the rough geographical clusters of former-Soviet republics – the Baltic states, Ukraine/Belarus, the Caucasus, and Central Asia – the states appear to have very different trajectories. For example, while the five Central Asian countries have been been ruled by corrupt, clan and ethnic-based authoritarian elites, Kyrgystan and Uzbekistan are moving in opposite directions.

Second, Eurasianism is not an acceptable rationale for Russian foreign policy. It would justify the yearning by part of the Russian elite for political and economic hegemony over its neighbors. It incorrectly suggests that Russian has a special role to play in those areas, when, in fact, its very legitimate interests can be taken into account on the basis of "normal" state-to-state relations.

The appellation Economic Development Zone is better, but still inadequate. Relations between Russia and the other former Soviet republics are in large part economic, but they are more frequently exploitative rather than “developmental.” We probably give too much attention to the political dimension, as you say, but it is nonetheless important, as some key parts of the Russian establishment have yet to fully reconcile themselves to the existence of the former Soviet states as independent entities.

As time goes on, the parts of the former Soviet Union will less frequently be ruled by leaders schooled in Soviet-style governance. As these countries go their separate ways, concepts such as post-Soviet space and Eurasianism are likely to disappear as political, economic and social concepts. While Russia will remain the most influential nation in these regions, it will have to pay more attention to the uniqueness of each of its neighbors – and on the basis of genuine equality – if it hopes to carry out an effective foreign policy.

Bron: Russia Profile

The Rise of Integral Anti-Americanism in the Russian Mass Media and Intellectual Life door Andreas UMLAND op History News Network, 26 juni 2006.

Ultranationalism among Russian youth and, to a lesser degree, in party politics as well as nascent official activity against xenophobia are receiving increasing attention by Russian and Western observers.

Alarmed by the growing number of victims among foreign students, visitors from abroad and immigrants from Asia, Africa and the Americas, the Putin administration has started to take action against escalating skinhead violence. The Kremlin-directed Russian mass media reports now on a daily basis about attacks on foreigners and their—often, still hesitant—persecution by the procuracy. There is also frequent information on various central and local campaigns (concerts, demonstrations, meetings, etc.) to increase tolerance und mutual understanding among the young. The Russian government’s change of course from far-going disregard of the proliferating neo-Nazi subculture during Putin’s first term to robust reaction to it in his second term seems less determined by a change of mind in the Kremlin, than by utilitarian deliberations. The increasingly blatant behaviour of free-flowing neo-Nazi youth groups is seen to create an image problem for Russia, and to threaten foreign investment. Besides, the Kremlin appears to consider large-scale immigration as an instrument to counteract the dramatic demographic problems of Russia which is loosing about 700,000 people per year. Although pragmatic, rather than principled motivations may lay behind the current official campaign against primitive hate speech, violent attacks and other obvious forms of extreme xenophobia, the Russian state’s recent open acknowledgement of this problem is by itself to be welcomed.

On the other hand, less manifest, yet basically similar illiberal tendencies in public and elite discourse continue to develop with little inhibition and seem to be gaining influence on mainstream politics, civil society, mass media and higher education. Apart from the Putin administration’s own course of gradual curtailment of democratic procedures and its propagation of a relatively moderate form of nationalism, and in parallel to the more extreme expression of this trend in the ranting of the pro-Putin Zhirinovskii party, a n intellectually refined form of deep anti-Westernism and, especially, anti-Americanism is becoming prominent in Russian expert commentaries and publicism on international affairs and contemporary history.

The Russian book-market is flooded with anti-liberal pamphlets outlining fantastic conspiracy theories, bizarre visions of Russian rebirth, and apocalyptic world views. The authors of such pamphlets include Sergey Kurginyan, Igor Shafarevich, Oleg Platonov, Maksim Kalashnikov (alias Vladimir Kucherenko) and Sergey Kara-Murza. Moreover, many, if not most of central Russian TV’ s weekly or daily political programmes are converging on a Manichean world view in which the US is made responsible for most of Russia’s (and, sometimes, humanity’s) problems. In prime-time regular “analytical” TV shows like Mikhail Leont’ev’s “Odnako [Although],” Gleb Pavlovskii’s “Real’naya politika [Real Politics],” Aleksei Pushkov’s “Post Scriptum,” or Aleksei Pimanov’s “Chelovek i zakon [Man and Law],” the recurrent conclusion of many world and some domestic reports is that the United States’ political or/and intellectual elite is directly or indirectly involved in hidden malicious actions against the Russians and other nations. Such denouncing of American foreign behavior goes far beyond the critique of the current policies of the Bush administration to be found elsewhere, and is characterized by a paranoid interpretation of current history and plain hatred of, as well as considerable ignorance about, US American politics, values and culture.

The, perhaps, most prolific of this class of commentators is Dr Aleksandr Dugin (b. 1962) who is active in both book publishing and TV production. Dugin has transformed himself from a lunatic fringe figure openly admitting his sympathies for various permutations of inter-war fascism in the 1990s to a “radically centrist” Putin-supporter and well-regarded guest commentator in mainstream Russian mass media. Apart from his increasingly frequent participation in talk shows on Russia’s most important TV channels ORT, RTR and NTV, Dugin also hosts his own political programme “Vekhi [Signposts]” transmitted via Russia’s new Orthodox TV channel “Spas [Saviour]”—an odd phenomenon in view of Dugin’s praise for West European occultism and Satanism during the 1990s. He is also a frequent contributor to various radio programs as well as such newspapers as “Rossiiskaya gazeta,” “Literaturnaya gazeta,” “Krasnaya zvezda,” etc.

Whereas most nationalist authors and journalists remain within the limits of traditional Russian anti-Westernism, Dugin’s writings and speeches are informed by his intimate knowledge various non-Russian forms of anti-liberalism including West European integral “Traditionalism” (René Guénon, Julius Evola, Claudio Mutti, etc.), European and American geopolitics (Alfred Mahen, Halford Mackinder, Karl Haushofer et al.), the German so-called “Conservative Revolution” (Carl Schmitt, Ernst Jünger, Arthur Moeller van den Bruck, etc.) and the francophone, neo-Gramscian “New Right” (Alain de Benoist, Robert Steuckers). In most of his public statements, to be sure, Dugin plays down the influence of Western authors on his thinking, and instead uses the term “neo-Eurasianism” (an explicit reference to a reputed Russian émigré intellectual movement of the 1920s and 1930s)—an obvious attempt to hide his true sources.

In his many books and articles, Dugin draws the picture of an ancient conflict between

* free-market, capitalist, Atlanticist sea powers (“thallasocracies”) that go back to the sunken world of Atlantis, are in the tradition of the ancient states of Phoenicia and Carthago, and are now headed by the “mondialist” United States, on the one side, and
* autarkic, etatistic, Eurasian continental land powers (“tellurocracies”), originating with the mythic country of “Hyperborea,” continuing the tradition of the ancient Roman Empire, and now having as its most important component Russia, on the other.

The secret orders or “occult conspiracies” of these two antagonistic civilizations—Eternal Rome and Eternal Carthago—have been in an age-old struggle, an occult Punic war, that has, often, remained hidden to its participants and even its key figures, but has, nevertheless, determined the course of world history. The confrontation is now entering its final stage, the “Great War of the Continents.” This demands Russia national rebirth via a “conservative” and “permanent revolution.” The new order to be created would be informed by the ideology of “National Bolshevism” and an exclusively “geopolitical” approach to international relations. A victory in this “Endkampf” (final battle; Dugin uses the German original as introduced by the Third Reich) against Atlanticism would create a “New Socialism,” and imply territorial expansion as well as the formation of a Eurasian bloc of fundamentalist land powers (including, perhaps, a “traditionalist” Israel!) against intrusive, individualist Anglo-Saxon imperialism.

Ideas such as these have led many observers to dismiss Dugin as a non-serious thinker, if not simply a bizarre, temporary phenomenon on Russia’s fragile political scene. In spite of the many phantasmorgic elements in his writings, Dugin has by now established himself, however, as the leader of an influential intellectual movement, “neo-Eurasianism”, that reaches beyond the lunatic fringe. Among the current members of the Highest Council of Dugin’s International Eurasian Movement, for instance, are several relevant Russian political figures including Minister of Culture Vladimir Sokolov, Presidential Aide Alsambek Aslakhanov, Federation Council Vice-Speaker Aleksandr Torshin, or the Chairman of the International Affairs Committee of the Federation Council Mikhail Margelov. Apart from various other, somewhat less prominent Russian actors, Dugin’s organization also includes a number of representatives, mainly academics, from the member countries of the CIS, as well as some marginal Western intellectuals.

While anti-American views have been a recurring feature of 20 th century Russian interpretations of international affairs, their current proliferation is different in terms of the quantity and quality of these views. Anti-Americanism has become a, if not the major feature of Russian foreign affairs journalism, and incorporates extreme ideas provided by Dugin and other anti-Western theorists. Opposition to “American imperialism” seems to be designed to legitimize Putin’s illiberal politics, and to provide the glue that holds Russia’s elites together.

Dr. Andreas Umland is German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) Lecturer at the National Taras Shevchenko University of Kyiv

Bron: History News Network

woensdag, juni 28, 2006

Russia’s National Ideology Will Not Differ From European Traditions door Kremlin Official op MosNews.com, 28 juni 2006.

Russia’s emerging national ideology would not differ much from European traditions, an influential presidential aide said Wednesday, RIA Novosti news agency reports. “As far as the basics of a possible emerging national ideology are concerned, I think they are unlikely to drastically differ from the common European values and models,” Vladislav Surkov, deputy head of the Kremlin staff stressed.

He added that Russia’s version of European culture was no more specific than German, French or British versions, adding that Europeans would have to get used to Russian specifics. “We see ourselves in the world in this way, and I hope our neighbors and partners will understand us,” Surkov said.

According to Interfax, Presidential aid also stressed that national ideology plays an important role in the ongoing administrative reform in Russia. “The construction of a power vertical was necessary and it still is, but a bureaucratic structure will not survive long, if we do not enrich it with an ideology recognized by the whole nation,” he said.

At a briefing in Moscow Surkov also mentioned a possibility of changing the non-partisan nature of Russian presidency “in a short historical perspective.”

“This is the price of the fight with communism. We were involved in making society non-partisan and we got addicted to it. That is why this situation emerged,” he said. Surkov added that Western countries, where a president supports the party that nominated him, could serve as an example and said it is normal.

Kremlin official also rebuffed the critics of U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney and other officials in Washington — of Russia’s backsliding on democracy and reverting to authoritarian tendencies. He stressed that Russia had what he termed a sovereign democracy and freedom.

“While building an open society, we do not forget that we are a free nation, and we want to be a free nation among other free nations and cooperate with them according to just rules without being governed from outside,” he said.

Bron: MosNews.com

maandag, juni 26, 2006

Russia as a European Nation and Its Eurasian Mission door Valery TISHKOV in Politichesky Klass magazine, 2006.

The annual state-of-the-nation address to the Federal Assembly is a political document reflecting the views, concerns, and aspirations of Russian President Vladimir Putin and his administration. This article examines the president’s perception of the country and its people, the objectives of nation building, and Russia’s place in the modern world. It analyzes the doctrinal essence of some of Putin’s most important statements, their evolution in time, and the modern context. After all, statements by the head of state are not simply target-setting guidelines. They are also directives that not only reflect reality, but also create reality per se.

Russian and foreign experts underestimated the linguistic and symbolic aspects of socio-political life in the country, despite the recognition and usage of these in practice.


Vladimir Putin has made an important move toward asserting the concept of “Russian people” in political language and in public awareness. The term is used in the text of his state-of-the-nation address as a historical category (“the Russian people has for centuries remained silent”), as an analog of the Soviet people (“the breakup of the Soviet Union became a real drama for the Russian people”), and as the contemporary “people of Russia.” Prior to this address, one of the president’s most definitive statements occurred during his address on Russia Day, June 12, 2003: “Wherever we might have been born or wherever we might have grown up, this is our Motherland. All together, we are the single, undivided, and powerful Russian people.”

Strange enough, this basic concept has yet to catch on. Those who understand the concept exclusively in the plural (‘the peoples of Russia’) reject it, as do those who believe there are only one people in the country, constituted by ethnic Russians (russkie). The concept of the ‘Russian people’ (that is, the citizens of Russia, or rossiyane) is a malicious invention, they believe, designed to abolish nations or, on the contrary, to downgrade the status and role of the Russian nation. Such views are popular not only among ethno-nationalists of various descriptions, but also among a substantial part of the academic and political community. These individuals developed the belief that ‘peoples’ and ‘nations’ are ethnicities of different degrees of maturity, while persons living in the same state, working at the same enterprise, and residing in the same town – even members of a single family – with different ethnic backgrounds cannot be a single people or members of the same nation.

In the Soviet era, political advocates and apologists of ‘mature socialism,’ stretching the bounds of credibility, classified the Soviet people (a phenomenon that existed in reality), as a ‘new historical community of people’ since the terms ‘peoples’ and ‘nations’ applied to ethnic communities. This classification produced a clumsy theoretical innovation regarding a purportedly new type of community of people.

In fact, there was no new historical typology in that community. The representatives of large states always have a multiethnic makeup, but this does not prevent them from acquiring the label of, for example, Brazilian, Indian, Chinese, or Spanish.

Soviet social engineers were somewhat perplexed by the need to come up with a descriptive name of the people from this new state – the Soviet Union. This new name was critical because ‘Russia,’ as an administrative/state designation, ceased to exist, while the concept of the ‘Russian people’ dropped out of the language. At some point, the officials decided in favor of ‘Soviet.’ In the 1970s and 1980s, this title struck such deep roots that the outside world, especially amongst the more educated segment, came up with the description ‘Soviets’ (along with ‘Russians’) with reference to people hailing from the Soviet Union, and occasionally used disparagingly – ‘Sovs.’

Later, during the Gorbachev-era liberalization, ‘Sovietness,’ especially its ideological component, became a subject of criticism and denunciation. That gave the opponents of the Soviet Union, and therefore of the Soviet people, cause to say that it was an ideologically unviable construct.

Today, we conveniently forget that the population of the Russian Empire was called the Russian people; it was one of the basic concepts and on par with the concept of the ‘czar’s subjects.’ Furthermore, the concept of ‘government by the people,’ which had gained ground since the 18th-century French Revolution, was not much in favor with contemporary monarchical rulers, while the Jacobin understanding of the nation as ‘co-citizenship’ was rejected so as not to undermine the divine origin of ruling authority.

It should be added here that before the Soviet era, rossiyane and russkie were interchangeable since “Russian” applied not only to the Great Russians (Velikorossy), the Minor Russians (Malorossy) and the Belorussians, but also to all those who had adopted the Orthodoxy or, according to liberal Russian economist and political scientist Pyotr Struve, were “culturally involved.” This is borne out by, among other things, the lately re-issued edition of Mikhail Zabylin’s pre-revolution (pre-1917) book about the customs and traditions of the Russian people. It includes a wealth of information on Cheremiss, Tatar, and other cultural traditions within the population of Russia.

The concept of ‘Russians’ acquired a narrow ethnic meaning during the period of ‘socialist nation-building’ when, beginning with the 1926 census, the term

‘Russian’ applied only to the Great Russians. Eventually, the designation ‘Great Russians’ fell out of use as a societal description and subsequently as a form of ethnic identity. Yet, following the introduction of internal passports in 1932, many Soviet citizens insisted that their ethnicity indicate ‘Great Russian.’ Today, young Russians are puzzled to see such an ethnicity description in their grandparents’ passports that is no longer on the official list of ethnic groups. Thus, a purely formal re-designation of ethnicity caused a change in reality, while there were no particular ‘ethnic transformations’ or ‘nation-building’ to support it.

The change of ethnic identity from Great Russian to Russian affected the former Minor Russians and Belorussians. In the 1920s and 1930s, many of the Russified Minor Russians converted into Russians as opposed to Ukrainians on the basis that Russian was a more prestigious and even secure ethnic group (especially during the period of political reprisals). This is why, according to the 1937 and the 1939 censuses, the number of Ukrainians declined, while the number of Russians grew by several million, even in Ukraine. Incidentally, this fact is ignored in estimating the number of famine victims in the early 1930s.

The increase in the number of Ukrainians, together with the decline in the number of Russians by almost 3 million between the 1989 and the 2001 census in independent Ukraine, shows that re-registration was commonplace. “The birth rates have not dropped; there has been neither an exodus of Russians nor a massive influx of Ukrainians. Who has ‘eliminated’ the three million Russians then?” opponents to the campaign for famine reparations to Ukraine may ask.

Since the once broad and non-ethnic category of Russians was divided into three ethnicities – Russians (the former Great Russians), Ukrainians (the former Minor Russians), and Belorussians, the strictly ethnic interpretation of ‘Russian’ and things Russian is still valid. It will hardly be possible to reintroduce the former interpretations – that is to say, restore the category of ‘Great Russians,’ let alone ‘Russians’ in the broad sense of the word. For this to happen, Ukrainians would have to agree to become Minor Russians and, together with Belorussians, recognize the double (vertical and not mutually exclusive) form of ethnic identity – Minor Russian and Russian at the same time, as Ukrainian-born Russian writer Nikolai Gogol once identified himself.

This form of identity is no longer possible for political, cultural, emotional, and purely psychological reasons.

Members of the Russian Cabinet – Alexei Kudrin, Victor Khristenko, German Gref, Mikhail Fradkov, Sergei Shoigu, and others – are representatives of one people regardless of the unfortunate formality that the question of ethnicity has taken in Russia. These are people with the same culture, yet different ethnic backgrounds. A Russian Jew or a Russian Armenian, for example, are quite respectable samples of multiple ethnic identity among Russians, that is to say from among the Russian people (incidentally, quite common in the pre-Soviet era). It is along these lines that the notion of the ‘Russian people’ and a Russian national identity asserted itself. In the view of some pundits, “it is time that Russia be entrusted to Russians” (Alexander Tsipko); such writings and appeals by ethno-nationalists represent the path of regress and ruinous for the country.


Political and public figures in contemporary Russia already make a distinction between rossiiskiy (related to Russia) and russkiy (Russian), even though the former replaced sovietskiy (Soviet) – or rather, it returned from the pre-Soviet era – as a form of national identity a little more than 10 years ago. Nevertheless, it is still difficult, for example, to describe Alexander Pushkin – long heralded as a “great russkiy poet” – as a rossiiskiy poet. The Brockhaus and Efron Encyclopedia (Vol. 50, 1898 edition) describes Pushkin as “the greatest Russian poet,” while Gogol is mentioned as “the greatest writer in Russian literature” (Vol. 17, 1893 edition).

Russian literature still has every reason to be called not only rossiiskiy, but also russkiy. A wealthy Russian Jew established a prestigious prize for literature, for example, the winners of which are referred to as “Russian cultural figures” even though by their ethnicity they are not only Russian, but also Jewish, Uzbek, German, Ukrainian, and so forth. There is nothing contradictory about this linguistic heterogeneity. The Russian language, which is not the exclusive property of Russians per se, allows to describe the authors who write in the Russian language and their works as russkiy. Nonetheless, it is acceptable if the attribute rossiiskiy characterizes all of these modern meanings, carrying the Soviet-era connotation of exclusive ethnicity, including, e.g., articles on Pushkin and Gogol in the upcoming edition of a new Russian encyclopedia.

What is clearly unacceptable, however, is another instance of linguistic ambivalence with regard to the terms russkiy and rossiiskiy that exists beyond Russia’s borders. To date, there is only one word and its derivatives there: ‘Russia’ and ‘Russians.’

The overwhelming majority of the outside world believes that exclusively Russians populate Russia, while these people are waging a war against a tiny nation, the Chechens, who are fighting for their freedom. Meanwhile, the speaker of the Russian parliament who declared the Dzhokhar Dudayev regime unlawful was a Chechen (Ruslan Khazbulatov); a Jew (Lev Rokhlin) commanded the federal army that destroyed Chechnya’s capital Grozny, while there were people of different ethnic backgrounds among the Russian servicemen. The world at large ignores these crucial facts in order to portray Russians as ruthless colonizers. To the outside world, Russians rule their country and oppress ethnic groups. Thus, the concept of the ‘Russian people’ does not really exist for the outside world: otherwise, the legitimacy and integrity of the state formed by this people would have to be recognized.

What is the solution to this situation? Russia must introduce into foreign languages, through a more accurate transliteration, two words that represent the two different notions that actually exist in the Russian language. This requires that the letter ‘o’ replace the letter ‘u’ in the word Russia. Then, foreigners will not immediately connect Rossia – its citizens, economy, army, culture, and so forth – to just one ethnic group, a community that will preserve its current designation as ‘Russians.’ Thus, the outside world will not perceive the Russian army, its generals and servicemen who fought the Chechen separatists as “Russians fighting against Chechens.” The present author in the mid-1990s made the proposal to amend Foreign Ministry records accordingly (see: Tishkov V. What Is Rossia? Prospects for Nation-Building. Security Dialogue, Vol. 26, No. 1, March 1995). Only a handful of our foreign colleagues, however, started using the country’s name in the more accurate transcription (for example, Anthropology and Archeology of Eurasia, a journal published by Russia specialist Prof. Marjorie Balzer, adopted the term). Presumably, the change of even one letter in a word that has worldwide significance requires considerable efforts at the official level. In fact, a precedent was set when, following the breakup of the Soviet Union, the names of some newly independent states were changed: e.g., Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, and Belarus.

Why is it so important to assert the notion ‘Russian people’ as synonymous with ‘Russians’ and not as the refusal to recognize the existence of other ethnic groups amongst the people of Russia? Because the plural form (‘peoples’) weakens the legitimacy of the state, necessarily formed by a territorial community, or demos, which, in accordance with the rules of international law, is a self-determined people.

The Soviet Union’s People’s Deputy and poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko once proposed an amendment to the draft text of the oath of allegiance to be taken by the first president of the Soviet Union, namely that in the phrase “I hereby swear to the people of the Soviet Union” the single noun be replaced with the plural form. The poet may not believe it, but this symptomatic amendment played a destructive, even if not immediately obvious, role in the disintegration of a once single country.

Many people strongly believe that it is not politically correct to designate the population of a country as a single people. Here is just one example. As a member of the editorial board of the New Russian Encyclopedia and one of its authors, I failed to get an entry titled Rossiiskiy Narod (the People of Russia) included in its volume devoted to Russia. Just as in previous editions, I had to write an article entitled Peoples of Russia, not the Ethnic Composition of the People of Russia, as I should have.

Due to outdated perceptions as to what actually constitutes a community known as ‘people’ or ‘nation,’ there is a misrepresentation of the country’s image: it has a territory, it has an economy, it has a capital, and it has bureaucracy, but there is no people or nation as such. Article 1 of the Constitution (adopted in 1993) recognizes the existence of a “multi-ethnic people,” but a “multi-people nation” would have been preferable. I reminded Sergei Shakhrai about that proposal when the work on the draft Constitution was still in progress, but stubborn stereotypes prevailed.

In the new Russia, just as in the Soviet Union, the fundamental categories ‘people’ and ‘nation,’ which are key to the legitimacy of the State, are relegated with increasing frequency and imprudence to the disposal of ethnic groups. Furthermore, these groups are rather hypothetical, constituting not actual groups per se but, rather, forms of collective identity that exist within the people of Russia. They are constantly changing, have a complex, multi-tier nature, and are of but secondary importance for each specific individual, compared to other forms of identity. These are the axioms of modern science, but not of the domestic social sciences poisoned by the quasi-scientific theories of ethnic “passionarity” and thinly veiled nationalistic views.

This is why even loyal and patriotic politicians and scholars still perceive the notion of ‘people of Russia,’ which is of fundamental importance to the country, as an agenda for the future. “We are now building a Russian civil nation,” Yevgeny Trofimov, chairman of the State Duma Nationalities Committee, and other high-profile politicians usually say. Meanwhile, the opponents of President Putin and the Russian political establishment, not to mention the diehard nationalists, maliciously write about the failure of the Russian nation-building project. Actually, this is the same pattern of thinking – positing that it is necessary to form a new body comprised of diverse ethnicities – for a new nation to be born.

However, this is a serious mistake. No one will ever “reform” ethnic Ossetians, Tatars, or Yakuts, for example, into Russians or vice versa. These people are already rossiyane, the Russian nation, while at the same time they are ethnically what they consider themselves to be. Nation-building should be interpreted as a kind of social engineering designed to unify the cultural identities of the people of Russia. Most importantly, it is the practical work of forwarding ideas that reflect and stimulate common features and values, including civic nationalism or Russian patriotism, that are vital for the State.

This program does not require centuries, or even decades, as some people believe. Thus, for example, the concept ‘British nation’ did not replace ‘English nation’ until quite recently. This change did not occur, however, for the Irish, Scots, or the descendants of the new migrants to become English, but for all of the country’s residents to feel themselves members of one nation. Englishness, which has not disappeared into thin air, has taken a subordinate position to Britishness, and everyone has benefited from this.

Likewise, following the collapse of the Franco regime, the concept of ‘Spanish nation’ struck root not as a designation of the dominant Castile component, but as an inclusive category comprising Catalonians, Basques, and other regional/cultural communities. Overall, the word ‘nation’ is generally used today not in its ethnic but civic, multicultural meaning. Even the most avid proponents of the concept of ethno-nation, the Hungarians, have surrendered their positions in favor of its dual usage – as citizens of Hungary (a political or civic nation) and as ethnic Hungarians (an ethno-nation or a cultural nation).

Some linguistically-nationalized minorities or majorities may worry by the prospect that the formal introduction of the concept of civic nation could cause them to lose their national status. These concerns, however, are groundless since incorporation into a civic nation is even more beneficial for minorities than for majorities. Majorities do not stand to lose anything, nor do they gain anything. The Castilians, for example, as the ethnic core of the Spanish nation, realized that establishing their own ethno-nation meant the destruction of Spain. The English tolerated the formula ‘British nation’ to weaken separatist nationalism on the part of the Scots, Welsh and Irish. Han Chinese, in the name of the country’s unity and stability, accept innovations, including a new hieroglyph designating the nation (mingdu) as the entire Chinese population where non-Han minorities number more than 100 million people. To ethnic Russians, this form of nation-building or national identity appears to be the only viable proposition. The essence of nation-building, however, consists in its formal recognition, which begins with a verbal act.

In this context, it would be appropriate to recall President Vladimir Putin’s statement at a conference in Cheboksary on February 5, 2004: “I suppose that today we have every reason to speak about the people of Russia as a single nation: representatives of various ethnic and religious groups in Russia perceive themselves as a single people. They use all of their assets, their cultural diversity in the interest of the entire society and the State. We are obliged to preserve and strengthen our national historical unity.”

Therefore, the Russian (rossiisky) nation is undoubtedly a project that has taken shape, formalized by the Russian Federation’s statehood, and consummated in the historical-cultural and socio-political commonality of the country’s population. Russia’s unity is ensured not only by the task of preserving the State within the existing territorial borders. As Vladimir Putin noted in his state-of-the-nation address, the recognition of a common identity and its acceptance into Russia’s socio-political consciousness – based on Russia as a heterogeneous whole – is no less important than the protection of State borders. States exist principally because each new generation of citizens reproduces and shares a common perception of their country, recognizing themselves as a single people.


Vladimir Putin has on many occasions referred to the historical community known as the ‘Russian people’ or the ‘Russian nation,’ and every time the expert and political community was either confused or oblivious to the comment. The 2005 state-of-the-nation address not just mentioned these two concepts, but even forwarded an apparently provocative and non-PC proposition: “There is no doubt that the civilizing mission of the Russian nation on the Eurasian continent should be continued.”

I am not in a position to judge about the whole continent, but with regard to the former Soviet Union’s area, the proposition about a civilizing mission (understood not as Messianism but as a general cultural and Kulturtraeger role) appears correct although the words ‘civilization’ and ‘mission’ are not purely academic. This interesting statement, at least in some way, stands up to the stereotype about the fallen “Soviet Empire” that purportedly oppressed and obstructed the historical development of the ethnic periphery with the Russians playing the role of assimilators. The imperial paradigm as an explanation of the nature and causes of the breakup of the Soviet Union is inconsistent, and rejected by the more astute historians, political analysts, and politicians. For example, studies on the history of ‘nation-building’ and ‘national policy’ – that is to say, the history of the country as a multiethnic State and its policy toward Soviet minorities – have been published in the United States (Suny R.G. The Revenge of the Past. Nationalism, Revolution, and the Collapse of the Soviet Union. Stanford, 1993; T. Martin. The Affirmative Action Empire. Nations and Nationalism in the Soviet Union, 1923-1939. Ithaca, 2001).

This refers not to the mission of ethnic Russians but of the Russian nation, which has always comprised people of various ethnic and religious backgrounds. Thus, for instance, Russian (above all Kazan) Tatars played an important role in pre-Revolution colonization and the Soviet cultural modernization of the Central Asian region and its population. Russian Ukrainians accounted for a substantial share of the original inhabitants and settlers in East Siberia and especially the Russian Far East. They influenced the development of these regions, including the sparse population of native peoples. Descendants from the Baltic region, Transcaucasia, and Ukraine constituted the core of the Soviet political and party leadership, especially during the period of the so-called nation-state building and industrialization.

What is the essence of this mission? The civilizing mission of the Russian nation, including its State as represented by the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union, comprises two basic aspects – an internal mission and an external mission. The internal mission concerned itself with economic, ethno-cultural, and political intercourse with Eurasia within the Russian nation (its geographic borders and ethno-religious composition constantly changed). The external mission involved the economic and industrial development of large tracts of Eurasian territory and the spread of European norms of law and cultural values.

The civilizing mission of the Russian nation consisted in spreading across a large part of Eurasian territory (the European North, the Volga region, Siberia, and the Russian Far East) the norms of the world’s two principal cultural systems, together with their inculcation among the local population. One of them was Christianity in the form of Russian Orthodoxy. This civilizing mission targeted not so much the followers of other world religions (Buddhism or Islam), which had long been practiced by a part of the Russian people, as it did that part of the population that had not been converted into any of the world religions (following the so-called traditional faiths and practices). Christianity played a similar role in other parts of the world, especially in America, with regard to the native population.

The second cultural reproduction and dissemination system is the linguistic system, based on the Russian language and the Russian-language culture. The Russian language and Russian-Soviet culture (from Alexander Pushkin to Nikolai Gogol, to Mikhail Sholokhov to Chinghiz Aitmatov) played a prominent civilizing role on the Eurasian continent, not confined to the territory of the historical Russian state. Russian has been and will remain the language of cultural interaction and mutual enrichment by representatives of various ethnic cultures within the bounds of one national culture. It has been and will remain the language for spreading the achievements of world civilization throughout the former Soviet Union. Russian is a vehicle through which the majority of the population in most of the newly independent states comes into contact with the world’s cultural heritage and modern mass culture (in recent years this function in the Baltic countries has also been performed by the English language), thereby also broadcasting their own cultural achievements to the world.

The Russian nation has made an invaluable contribution to the cultural legacy of the peoples of Eastern and Western Europe. The European culture of the past is inconceivable without the Russian cultural component, and this contribution will continue in the future, albeit on a more limited scale (without the new national cultures of the former Soviet republics that were once part of Russian and Soviet culture).

Following the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the internal component of the civilizing mission of the Russian people has gone into retreat, while its external component has grown. In this respect, President Putin is right when he refers to the Eurasian continent as the territory of the former Soviet Union beyond Russia’s borders. This mission existed in the past and it still exists today, no matter how much Russia’s detractors denigrate the value of the modern cultural process. It is only necessary to consider the kind of books and magazines that are read, the music that people listen to, and the language spoken by the citizens and political leaders of the newly independent states.

Of course, the content and value of the civilizing mission evolves historically, and it is not always an exclusively positive, one-way process. Nor is it always viewed in the same way by representatives of different generations and different regions within the zone of cultural influence and cultural intercourse. It is not only the exponents of Russian culture, or even the Russian-language culture, that have contributed important civilizing contacts as part of the internal mission. As the Russian people incorporated elements of different cultures and developed contacts with the outside world, it took in and assimilated much of that foreign experience. Some components of Russia’s culture were the result of extensive evolution, including the experience of many peoples and regions (Transcaucasia, Central Asia, the Baltic region, Moldavia, Buryatia) in state-building, literature, and religion.

These mature and highly respectable cultural traditions formed complex interactions with the dominant Russian cultural component and the central ruling authority. Much was lost or destroyed, but not more so than in the evolution of the German nation on the basis of the Prussian component, the evolution of the British nation on the basis of the English component, or the evolution of the Chinese nation on the basis of the Han component. The civilizing mission of the Russian nation in Eurasia bore especially little resemblance to the missions of external colonial empires that also contained a civilizing component, yet the nature of relationships therein was based not on interaction (even if not always equivalent), but on a rigid domination-subordination pattern along the mother country-colony lines. The inclusion of the human resource and religious-cultural components of the former subjects into the dominant nations of the colonial civilizing mission is occurring today, albeit via mass migration of people from former colonies to their mother countries.

How is it possible for this mission, in Putin’s expression, to carry on? The future civilizing role of Russia and the people of Russia is in some respect preordained and unmistakable. However, this role sometimes also seems barely distinguishable, and on other occasions, unfathomable. So why should the mission continue? Can it be just bravado of a “failed country,” a term many domestic and foreign experts apply to Russia? Russia’s predestination to carry on this mission remains inviolable if it continues to control a substantial part of the world’s mineral resources, and, furthermore, that without these resources, civilization, at least on the Eurasian continent, will not be able to exist or develop. The Russian nation remains the only custodian of the cultural value system based on the Russian language, the Cyrillic alphabet and Orthodox Christianity, which is still highly relevant for Eurasia, even though other cultural systems remain and new ones will grow within the Russian nation, including other world systems (Judeo-Christian, Euro-Islamic, Buddhist-Mongolian, and others). Judging by the state of Russia’s resources, intellectual potential and cultural production, the mission in these two spheres has a viable future.

There is yet another new purpose in the continuation of Russia’s Eurasian mission within the next several decades. This purpose is to preserve the memory and identity of former Soviet citizens, concerned with their affiliation with the Soviet people, as well as to perform the function as a host country for all those who continue to feel an attachment to Russia and would even prefer to work and live in Russia.

The president’s state-of-the-nation address highlights the need to eliminate anti-migration attitudes and xenophobia toward our former compatriots – attitudes deeply ingrained in the minds of both politicians and ordinary citizens. The rapidly developing economy and labor market in Russia, together with its shrinking and aging population, confront the country with the formidable problem of population reproduction. Other countries in Western Europe face exactly the same problem. Nevertheless, in 2003, the 25 EU countries managed to increase their population by 1.9 million, with immigrants accounting for 90 percent of this growth. By contrast, Russia has been pursuing a policy of reducing migration from the former Soviet republics, thus undermining its own national security.

The president’s state-of-the-nation address does not say that migration from the newly independent states should be an objective or a yardstick in evaluating the performance of the country’s migration services. Rather, it states that Russia is interested in an inflow of qualified, legal labor resources and that “ultimately, every legal immigrant must be given an opportunity to become a citizen of the Russian Federation.” Furthermore, the current law and citizenship acquisition procedure, as well as the inherent corruption, do not allow a newcomer to become a “legal immigrant.” Over the past decade, the Russian people and its State have been performing the unseemly role of alienating and exploiting their former compatriots, at the same time deriving huge profits from their labor. There is a glaring gap in the civilizing mission here, caused not only by the narrow-minded considerations of political expediency and security, but also by selfish motives. There is even some partial revenge for breaking away from Russia.

The most attractive territory for internal migration within the former Soviet Union was the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic – that is to say, modern Russia. RSFSR residents also moved to other Soviet republics. As a rule, this movement was due to labor migration, oftentimes tinged with propaganda and youthful romance. In fact, migration exchange was one of the components of the civilizing mission since qualified cadres from the central part of the country and “ethnic Russian regions” created an economic and cultural capability that constituted the foundation of independent statehood of the newly independent states following the breakup of the Soviet Union. Local cadres, trained at universities in central Russia, and specialists who went to the Soviet republics under a program whereby graduates were required to perform some service to the state after graduation performed an extremely important Kulturtraeger mission by wedding rich local tradition with Soviet cultural achievements. In the past several decades of the existence of the Soviet Union, more Soviet citizens came to the RSFSR than left it. Those were for the most part young specialists and workers at priority construction projects, as well as military servicemen who wished to stay in Russia upon demobilization. Furthermore, military service in the RSFSR or in other regions played a significant role in the cultural and educational development of residents of the Union Republics.

The fact that migration to Russia continued after the Soviet Union disintegrated was not a new phenomenon. Furthermore, during the period between the 1979 and 1989 censuses, the number of people who had moved to the RSFSR from other republics was higher than in between the 1989 and 2002 censuses. It is another matter that in the past decade, migration from Russia to the newly independent states practically ceased. Russia will remain attractive to our former compatriots for a long time yet – at least as long as the living standards, employment and career opportunities here are better than in other countries. However, this situation cannot last forever. The discrimination, deception, humiliation, harassment and even violence that immigrants have been experiencing in Russia of late have already discouraged many people from taking such risks, turning the tide of migration toward Eastern and Western Europe, Turkey, and even China.

Despite the ongoing population decline and the growing labor market, as well as the recognition by a small part of the state bureaucracy that immigration is necessary and useful for the country’s development, Russia’s migration and other services continue to put the main thrust in their work on “migration control” and the deportation of illegal migrants. While in 2004, Russia’s population declined by 700,000, the authorities deported 90,000 potential employees and citizens, spending more than 100 million rubles of the budget in the process. At least as many people had to leave under the threat of deportation and violence.

In this respect, the results of Russia’s civilizing mission are rather controversial. On the one hand, for more than a decade the country has served as an employment market and a source of sustenance for millions of citizens of the newly independent states. On the other hand, Russia has placed these people in a humiliating position, limiting the number of those who would like to live in Russia while giving them a raw deal. As a result, the country lost a historic chance to attract a segment of the people from the former Soviet Republics. Russia took its guidance from utopian notions that say “ethnic Russians” should return to their “historical Motherland” while others should remain “in their states.” This ignored the fact that Russia’s civilizing role with regard to its former compatriots had made them in many respects not simply Soviet people but people of Russia, regardless of their ethnic backgrounds (Russian, Tatar, Kyrgyz, Uzbek or Georgian). Russia imprudently decided to abandon this mission. Today, we must resume this mission and take it to a new level.

Valery Tishkov, professor, Director of the Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology of the Russian Academy of Sciences. This article was originally published in Russian in the Politichesky Klass magazine.

The Chechen Path to Russian Statehood door Alexander DUGIN in Vremya Novostei, juni 2004.

Over the past few years, Chechnya has been going through a painstaking process of military and political settlement. This process was by no means a particular case. President Putin contemplated Chechnya as a model which was to demonstrate to the world the desired type of Russian statehood and the principles and values it would be built upon. Otherwise, there would be no justification for the severe fighting against separatism.

The Soviet Union disintegrated relatively peacefully, but what grounds does the Russian Federation have for defending its territorial integrity? What ideology, what mission, what justification? Putin had to use Chechnya as an example by which to demonstrate the new essence of Russia’s statehood. This means that Chechnya was a problem pertaining to content rather than to technique, to the destiny of Russia as a state and a nation.

Putin responded to the challenge in the following manner: Chechnya, controlled by the federal troops, would be forced to assimilate the Russian legal and administrative norms. It would also receive the same type of democratic civil society that other parts of Russia have accepted. The country was forced to pay a large and bloody price: the fight for democratic norms and civil law, which are now viewed as sacred goals, resulted in mass deaths and enormous torment. Actually, the second Chechen campaign, as well as the political process of 2002-2004, might prompt a conclusion that the administrative system of each Russian region, given all of its pros and cons, is so invaluable that it is worth the deaths of thousands of men and pools of blood.

Putin was expected to substantiate the essence of Russia’s new statehood system, however, he chose to delay it. Instead, he insisted on the “No” part of the program: “Say ‘No’ to separatism!” “Keep up territorial integrity or die!” He offered a tough stance, but it was only half the answer. The “No” part of the program was made perfectly clear, while the “Yes” part remained obscure.

Akhmad Kadyrov was the backbone in this whole structure. The success of the operation, code-named “Kadyrov,” was to underscore the legitimacy of modern Russia as a whole. It was simply not permitted to fall apart, and no special explanations were provided. The Kadyrov model signified the essence of Russian statehood.

With Kadyrov as a leader of the region, Chechnya was made to fit pan-federal Russian standards. The federal government made an inordinate effort to align the bleeding region with other parts of the country. It fully mobilized to focus its military and administrative resources on the task. The effort was reinforced by the unbending will and strong power instinct of Akhmad-hajji Kadyrov, who by force and persuasion impelled the members of different teips (clans), virds (religious communities), and even separatist groups, to recognize his personal power. This he presented to the Kremlin as the Chechen element of the vertically-integrated Russian Federation.

Kadyrov was the main element of Russian statehood. He bolstered the grounds for severe fighting against separatism, the legitimacy of tough anti-separatist measures before the eyes of the West. He maintained a balance of compromise between the Russian federal legislative norms and the uniqueness of Chechen society that does not tally with those norms. The essence of the Kadyrov regime boiled down to demonstrating to everyone that Russia’s statehood has the ability to tame any forms of internal resistance and is therefore valuable and efficient.

But there were forces that lurked in the shadows, forces that waited until that moment when the system of Kadyrov’s rule had taken hold and acquired a faзade of stability and steadiness. They waited until Kadyrov had become indispensable for the Kremlin not only in Chechnya but nationwide, as well as on a global scale – when it would seem to the world that Russia had handled the rebellious region.

The explosion that ripped through the Grozny stadium on May 9, 2004 was aimed at the most vulnerable element of Russia’s system – the legitimacy of its values and techniques. Alas, it reached its target. If we had regarded Kadyrov and his system as point one on the political scale, we would have to admit that we are now thrown back to zero or even minus one. It was in our hands, but we lost it. This means that Putin will again have to substantiate the essence and value of Russia’s statehood, as well as provide proofs of its efficiency and ability to contain the problems. It literally comes down to this: tell us what the essence of that statehood is, and we will decide if defending its integrity makes sense. Furthermore, we will set an appropriate price for it.
Any solution to the current Chechen crisis will depend on the efficiency of the technology used, promotion campaigns and media strategy. The solution will also have to include political agreements between the federal government and Chechen teips and groupings. But most importantly, it will need a new substantiation of values and efficiency of the Russian state as a whole.

The previous system proved to be technologically advantageous and efficient, but devoid of content and rather fragile. Efficiency is always short-lived, and once it breaks away from content, its results become adverse to the projected ones. This is comparable with modern-day political PR campaigns – they contain quick mobilization, swift and impressive actions, hammering-out of the desired results, and then – a pause until a new campaign starts, all of which is equally senseless and efficacious. However, there was no time for a pause this time, and the problem revealed its bare essence. In a way, Putin’s resolute motto “Say ‘No’ to separatism!” has proven to be insufficient: the Kadyrov formula uncovered a shaky foundation.

President Putin is facing a fundamental choice. Kadyrov’s elimination compels him to provide a definite “Yes” or “No” answer. It might have seemed to Putin at the time that the issue was closed and could only be addressed on the technological level. However, it is now understandable that such an approach was not correct. We are witnessing a rather painful failure of the strategy of substituting effectual technologies and PR simulations for a real meaningful policy – something that has become a trademark of part of the President’s team. They have succeeded in this strategy on other occasions, although their success proves to be transitory and dubious. Today, Russia is hinged on Putin in much the same manner that Chechnya was hinged on Kadyrov. Putin is really the only political actor, and he attained this status by sophisticated PR technologies. But how fragile the state of affairs is! Real stability is different from its virtual representation.

Putin is now choosing between essence and technology. Both options involve risks, dangers, and unpredictable consequences. Such is the Chechen path to Russian statehood – strewed with mines, ambushes, corpses, crimes, blood, and tears. But time goes by swiftly and the date of the presidential election in Chechnya is approaching. Something has to be done, because one must not sit idling.

People who care about the destiny of new Russia are in suspense. Too many things depend on the Chechen situation. Who will Chechnya be entrusted to? What option will be chosen? What is on the cards? Every nuance in the Chechen issue abounds in huge historic import. It is one thing if the problem is delegated to the Kremlin’s political pundits, and quite another thing if it is devoted to the patriots of the Motherland and proponents of Eurasian unity. All subsequent steps and consequences will follow the logic of the chosen course; and as a chain of developments unfolds, its inertia and pressure will preclude radical changes in the situation.

Alexander Dugin is the Chairman of the Eurasia political party, leader of the international Eurasia movement, geopolitician. This article was originally published in Russian in the Vremya Novostei newspaper, June 22, 2004.

Toward a Strategic Alliance door Timofei BORDACHEV in Russia in Global Affairs, April-June Nr. 2, 2006.

The Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) between Russia and the European Union is due to expire in the autumn of 2007. This deadline presents the parties with a challenge to negotiate a legislative and institutional basis for their future relations.

However, Russia and the EU are approaching this discussion with a noticeable lack of interest toward each other, if not outright irritation. By February 2004, when it became obvious that the socio-political and economic models of the parties had greatly diverged, Moscow and Brussels almost assumed the logic of “peaceful coexistence.” The rapprochement issue is now used only as a pretext for achieving economic concessions that are not related to long-term objectives, while the “strategic partnership” slogan often conceals bitter competition on specific economic issues. Meanwhile, bilateral summits, together with any meaningful documents that these events may produce, have been decreasing. Both Russia and the European Union have displayed their inability to formulate joint strategic objectives and tasks, and to define their common values and even their real interests.

This drop in enthusiasm to engage in debate causes the parties to make “pragmatic and earthly” decisions in the spirit of “obligation-fulfillment” (or, rather, non-fulfillment). The public and political atmosphere, every bit as dull as the texts of the Russian-EU joint Road Maps approved in May 2005, does nothing to help find answers to longstanding problems. Adherence to a policy of pragmatism can bring about a situation where breakthrough ideas for the future may become unclaimed.

However, given that Russia and the European Union are already so close, and the real content of their mutual relations is so considerable, the parties require a fundamentally new level of confidence. This will be impossible to accomplish, however, by relying on practices and institutions that were formed in the early 1990s when the situation was quite different. The Russian-EU agenda now includes issues that were impossible to imagine 10 to 15 years ago.

Russia and the European Union – two inseparable parts of the Old World that is presently losing its global influence – must free themselves from the fetters of their bilateral legal and institutional base. Although this base keeps their mutual relations from further degradation, it serves to hinder further progress at the same time. Russia and the EU will be able to formulate a long-term model for their relations only if they overcome stereotypes and recognize the possibility of various variants, including unorthodox ones. Genuine integration wherever possible and necessary is more likely to bring about open markets and the free movement of people, goods, services and capital than the hasty inclusion into grand bureaucratic plans of ever new directions of the “harmonization.” It is also more advantageous than to simply proclaim an association of such diverse actors as a common goal.

The historical division of Europe will not be overcome unless Russia and the EU form an alliance genuinely oriented to the future. The geostrategically ailing European Union has entered a long period of internal transformation; from an objective view, it needs Russia economically and politically to advance its interests on the international stage, although it is not ready yet to admit this officially. Russia, presently involved in a complex geostrategic encirclement and losing its positions in many objective parameters, needs the European Union, at least in the medium term, as well.

The relative stability of the Russian system of government, which rests on the population’s support and the favorable situation on the world energy market, allows Moscow to more actively advance its own vision of strategic objectives and forms of cooperation, while ensuring equal rights for its partners. Therefore, Russia must not be viewed de facto as a “younger partner” of the EU. The EU should gradually depart from its present position that its outside partners must adopt “light” versions of EU laws and standards (acquis communautaire) in order to bring about progress in their relations with Brussels.


From the legal point of view, there is no “2007 problem” in Russia-EU relations. Article 106 of the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement stipulates that the Agreement shall be automatically renewed year by year provided that neither Party gives the other Party written notice of denunciation of the Agreement at least six months before it expires. Yet the need for a new document is already on the Russia-EU agenda. There are now three ways for the parties to formalize their relations after 2007.

The first way is to provide for the automatic renewal of the PCA on an annual basis, as provided for by Article 106. At this point, the main emphasis of the agreement will be to fill the joint Road Maps on Four Common Spaces with specific content. Some of the PCA provisions may lose their force after a lapse of time. One thing is certain: the PCA will gradually die out without an adequate replacement.

The second way is to add new provisions to the PCA in order to revise the basis for institutional cooperation for the next 10 to 15 years. For example, it may acquire the format of the EU’s relations (an association, a free trade zone, etc.) with states located along its periphery and with former colonies of European nations in Africa.

The third way is to draft a new political and legal document (a package of documents) that will completely replace the PCA and that will be ratified, if need be, by Russia, the European Union and its member countries. Ratification may not be required for the general political document (Declaration), but only for individual agreements on specific issues (sectoral agreements).

However, it seems that the less painful method would be to simply extend the PCA, providing it with new articles that would reflect the achievements scored over the last few years, including the Energy Dialogue and the Road Maps on Four Common Spaces. Brussels prefers exactly such a scenario, as it will allow the European Commission to retain the role of leader in relations with Russia, while reducing the influence of individual EU member countries that are more interested in the development of contacts with Moscow. This type of relationship model would suit a significant part of the EU political elite, as it would save the Union the need to work out a clear-cut strategy for developing relations with Russia. Moreover, it would enable Brussels to focus on efforts to overcome its own system crisis.

At the same time, Moscow may find this variant attractive because it would spare it the need to form a strong negotiating team for drafting, together with the European Union, a new document. The catastrophic shortage of qualified experts, in addition to the marked disunity among government agencies, makes it very difficult to form an efficient task force.

However, by agreeing to extend/renew the PCA, or replace it with another document taken from the foreign-policy nomenclature of the European Commission that reflects its terminology, Russia would be voluntary admitting to its status as a “younger partner,” thus becoming an object for inspection and instruction. The arm-twisting technique frequently used by the European Union in economic issues (witnessed by its position on the Siberian overflight payments charged to European airlines) would become a regular practice.

On the whole, the format of political and legal relations between Russia and the EU does not essentially influence the development of real integration wherever there is mutual interest. Many countries that have much closer and effective ties with the EU than Russia do not seek to formalize their commitments by ratifying them in parliament and making them part of national law. One of these countries is the United States, which has a visa-free regime and a huge trade turnover with the European Union; yet, it makes do with general political declarations accompanied by a package of bilateral agreements and binding working plans on specific issues.


The development of a new format for developing political and legal relations between Russia and the European Union requires revising some of the present approaches.

First, the future model of Russia-EU relations must reflect Russia’s special role in Europe and the world. This means that the new document (package of documents) cannot fall within the same “system of coordinates” as the EU’s present practice of formalizing relations with neighboring states. Thus, any new model should not stem from other generally known formats and titles of EU agreements with other countries, such as Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, Association Agreement, European Agreements, and so on.

Second, the new agreement cannot be an “instruction” for drawing Russia closer to the constantly changing regulatory policies concerning political and economic life in the European Union. In practice, bilateral documents are usually substituted by agreed versions of the EU’s internal documents reflecting its vision of what Russia should do. Broadly speaking, it is necessary to avoid excessive emphasis on “harmonization of legislation” as a universal instrument for developing trade, economic and humanitarian ties. Russia’s adoption of EU legislation, without raising the issue of obtaining EU membership, would make no sense.

Both parties must be guided by international law, World Trade Organization regulations and other legislative norms. This does not rule out, however, Russia’s adoption of individual norms in cases when it does not involve yielding its state sovereignty. Moreover, in the future, if the parties are prepared to form supranational forms of cooperation in one or another field, new regulations may be hammered out at that time.

And third, any new document between the parties must avoid evaluative judgments about the state of the Russian economy and its society as a whole. Statements to the effect that the European Union recognizes Russia as a “developed democratic country, possessing the fundamentals of a market economy” look as an attempt to place the EU a step above Russia, thus undermining the principle of equality.

Instead, the parties should consider a document that acknowledges the establishment of a strategic union (community) between Russia and the European Union as a new means for ensuring regional and international security. To this end, Moscow and Brussels must voice their common vision of major issues concerning international life. Despite their tactical disagreement on a majority of pressing issues (such as the role of the United Nations and other international institutions, the supremacy of international law, non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, counterterrorism measures, cross-border crime and drug-trafficking, measures to stabilize the Greater Middle East, environmental problems, etc.), the positions of Russia and the European Union are quite close. Therefore, the parties should see to it that their common strategic interests take precedence over individual disagreements or phobias inherited from the past.

A new joint document could cite universally agreed principles, by which Russia and the EU abide in their international affairs and bilateral relations. These principles include the observance of human rights, freedom and equality in international trade, and the organization of the due political process in keeping with the existing norms. The parties should clearly state that they will continue to build their bilateral economic relations on the basis of, and taking into account, the adaptation of Russian legislation to the rules and standards of the WTO, which Russia seeks to join in the near future. If economic interests demand closer integration in one or another field, the corresponding harmonization of legislation in the given area will be adopted in a separate agreement.
Russia and the European Union should focus on selective integration in economic areas where it can bring them real added value, as well as a long-term instrument for building their economic and geopolitical community. For example, the parties may consider the possibility of setting up supranational associations, like a Russian-European Oil and Gas Association, a Russian-European Transport and Space Association, or a Russian-European Environmental Community. In those areas where the parties are not yet ready for integration, they will retain their full sovereignty and relations in the form of cooperation.


The above principles can be translated into life on the basis of a three-level system of political and legal relations between Russia and the European Union. This system will allow the parties to take into account their unique characteristics, interests and international circumstances.

Level one. A strategic framework for Russia-EU relations would be established by a general political document – a Declaration for a Strategic Union Treaty – that would work as a detailed preamble. Its stated goal would be the establishment of a Strategic Union between Russia and the EU, aimed at overcoming the syndrome of enmity, rivalry and psychological consequences of wars and conflicts of the past, and at consolidating truly allied relations that would provide for deeper integration in individual areas. These relations will not be directed against third countries. The relationship will be based on a common vision of challenges and security threats, the interdependence and interoperability between Russia and the European Union in key economic sectors, and their common cultural and scientific heritage. A final key is that both parties recognize the importance of their rapprochement for ensuring their mutual development and security.

The Declaration should state that the common strategic interests of Russia and the European Union have a priority, and specify areas within the realm of international politics where the interests of the two parties objectively coincide. The Declaration should also cover other issues essential to both parties, among them devotion to basic democratic values, such as supremacy of the law, human rights and the rights of minorities, independence of the judicial system, the division of powers, a competitive political environment, independence of the mass media, and the freedom of citizens’ movement. Also, it should stress that Russia and the EU will build their mutual relations on the basis of equality, mutual benefit and transparency, and that, while operating within the framework of international and regional organizations, they will seek to take into account each other’s positions, coordinate their efforts, and align their approaches as close as possible.

A strategic union between Russia and the European Union would serve as a crucial link between regional security systems in Europe, Asia and North America. To add a systemic nature to the parties’ relations in the military and political spheres, the Declaration must name instances when it would be appropriate for mutual cooperation in their foreign policy and military cooperation, as well as in peace-making efforts.

Level two. Russia and the European Union would adopt a strategic agenda that would name specific areas for their cooperation. One would be cooperation in ensuring international and regional security, as well as eliminating 21st century threats and risks, including terrorism, environmental problems, poverty, and others. This section may include a list and description of joint initiatives for resolving specific issues pertaining to international security, military cooperation and peace-making activities, as well as references to specific provisions of international law underlying such joint activities.

Another important area is cooperation in the realm of international trade and the global economy. It would be expedient to specify the parties’ plans with regard to issues of mutual interest in individual sectors of the economy and international trade, provided in detail in the general section of the Declaration.
The third section of this agenda could focus on cooperation in ensuring freedom of people’s movement and unimpeded transit. This cooperation must be based on the declared intention of introducing visa-free movement of citizens through a gradual simplification of the visa regime. Also, the agenda should mention the need to simplify, as much as possible, a mechanism of transit through the Kaliningrad Region.

Another section, devoted to cultural and humanitarian cooperation, which is a major area of concern in the debates on rapprochement between Russia and EU, may contain a list of the existing and planned initiatives for the development and strengthening of joint activities. This section should state the plans of the parties to intensify and encourage the exchange of students, teachers and scientists.

Of fundamental importance is a special section that calls for cooperation between businesses and civil societies. The lack of mechanisms and instruments for protecting business interests is now a key problem in Russia-EU relations. This section must contain a list of plans and ideas for advancing dialog inside the business community, as well as between nongovernmental organizations. First, Russian businesspeople, with rare exception, are not ready to invest seriously in the creation of a lobbyist infrastructure. Second, the nature of the relationship between business and government in Russia is not always conducive to protecting the interests of Russian entrepreneurs abroad. The Russia-EU negotiating process remains at a dead end and lacks real transparency for the Russian business community; this is why its interests are not duly taken into consideration.

Considering the unique role the EU plays in Russia’s foreign trade (about 50 percent), it would be expedient to raise the issue of expanding the representation of Russian business interests at European supranational institutions, and creating a legal foundation for the integration of Russian businesses into the business community of the United Europe. Russia and the EU may even work out a separate agreement to support the representation of nongovernmental interests. The main objective of this (sectoral) agreement would be granting Russian and EU businesspeople the right to represent and protect their interests on the territory of their partners.

At the same time, business circles must be obliged to coordinate their approaches to issues of economic relations within the framework of special consultative mechanisms. Associations, companies and their representatives should be guaranteed access to governmental information (this would require, of course, a strictly defined type of documents and could occur only at a certain stage of development between the parties). Also, the parties should submit drafts of the interstate agreements and other documents to Russian and EU councils of entrepreneurs for consideration prior to the decision-making stage.
The last section of the agenda should be devoted to the documents’ implementation, including a provision on the creation of a special mechanism for supervising the implementation of the agreed plans between Russia and the European Union.

And finally, level three. This includes sectoral agreements of various scales and binding to different degrees. These agreements will serve as a true “motor” and practical instrument for developing Russia-EU relations. They must provide for the functional integration in individual areas between the parties, up to and including the unification of market segments. Years ago, this was the functional approach – the achievement of political integration through in-depth cooperation in purely technical areas – that launched the entire process of European integration. So it would be expedient to apply to Russia-EU relations those practices that formed the European Coal and Steel Community of the early 1950s – the only successful experience of overcoming conflict and contradictions between formerly unfriendly countries, when the participation of France and Germany in the ECSC met their economic interests and also became a decisive factor in their historical reconciliation.

Cooperation on a functional basis makes it possible to reduce discrimination toward one of the partners in the project to the minimum. At least three of the ECSC founders (France, Germany and Italy) strengthened their shaken positions with the help of the new organization and became leaders of the new historical process. The functional approach enables countries to be more flexible in the adoption of certain norms and values as a mandatory condition for integration. In the Treaty of Rome on the establishment the European Economic Community (EEC), signed in 1957, it occurred to no one to make the participation of France conditional upon the cessation of its military operations in Algeria.

Additionally, the functional rapprochement and direct interaction of the supranational governance bodies, businesses and societal structures of the parties involved will help create what the present relations between Russia and the European Union and, perhaps, between the EU countries themselves, lack most of all, and that is an atmosphere of confidence. However, functional integration can be successful only if the rules of the game are equally advantageous to all the participants. If, on the other hand, integration presupposes or results in the ousting of any of the participants from the market, it will never work.
Obvious potential areas for Russia-EU cooperation include transport, education, space exploration and, possibly, power engineering. Transport – especially air transport – is one of the best areas to launch a Russian-European integration project. Profits in this sphere are minimal, while large airlines, both in Russia and the EU, experience similar difficulties. The scale of state support in this industry, which is necessary even in the United States, is approximately the same in all countries. But most importantly, the potential contribution of Russia and the EU to the “joint stock” can be equal. This factor will let the parties avoid seller-buyer relations, which inevitably transform any dialog into a banal form of bargaining.

Of all the aforementioned documents meeting the new political and legal format of Russia-EU relations, only sectoral agreements require parliamentary ratification. Therefore, the parties will avoid negative consequences that would stem from the need to push the issue of a Russia-EU strategic union through the legislatures of EU member states, with which Moscow has strained relations due to historical and psychological factors.

This article sets forth major provisions of the Concept of a New Political and Legal Format of Russia-EU Relations, a working document drafted by the Institute of Europe of the Russian Academy of Sciences (the Center for Applied Russia-EU Studies), the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy (SVOP), and Russia in Global Affairs. The authors of the project express their gratitude to Sergei Karaganov, Deputy Director of the Institute of Europe, for his constructive criticism and proposals, many of which were taken into account, and to all the participants of the public discussion organized by SVOP and held at the Institute of Europe on November 22, 2005. The authors are grateful to the initiators of the Concept for Modernizing the Russia-EU Partnership and Cooperation Agreement and Concluding an Advanced Partnership Agreement Establishing an Association. Their arguments and conclusions provided a strong stimulus for the attempt, made in this article, to go beyond the frameworks of the official agenda in Russia-EU relations.

Timofei Bordachev is the Research Programs Director of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy, and Deputy Editor-in-Chief of Russia in Global Affairs.

Bron: Russia in Global Affairs