Staunton, September 3 – Many in Moscow and the West are suggesting that Vladimir Putin has made a fundamental mistake in turning away from the West toward the East given the economic problems China is currently suffering from. But that is short-term thinking, Aleksandr Razuvayev says, and fails to recognize how much more is involved.
In a commentary in yesterday’s “Vglyad,” the Moscow financial analyst says that Putin’s turn to Asia is “a geopolitical choice comparable with the one made by St. Prince Aleksandr Nevsky. Having concluded a union with Batu Khan, he preferred the Horde to the Catholic West and an Asian market from the Volga to China to trade with Europe.”
And because these two leaders made this choice, Razuvayev argues, Nevsky eight centuries ago and Putin at the present time have preserved “Russian national identity and Orthodoxy” against what he suggests are the West’s nefarious plans for weakening and ultimately deracinating Russia (vz.ru/columns/2015/9/2/764659.html
“The 21st century is the century of Asia,” he insists, and Russia will be part of it. It will benefit from Asia’s demographic and economic growth, and it will escape from what have been its longstanding difficulties with the West which has never been friendly to Russia and its aspirations.
Given that Nevsky is Russia’s patron saint and that his choice to ally with the Mongol Horde against Catholic Europe gave Muscovy not only its authoritarian state system but also its hostility to Western values including democracy and the rule of law, Putin and his supporters are likely to be pleased by this comparison to Nevsky.
But many other Russians will not be. Not only do they want a different and freer future than a regime celebrating Asiatic despotism will ever be able to offer, but they have good reason to fear the growing population and power of China -- especially given their own decline demographically and economically.