Friday, April 6, 2018

Moscow Moves toward Having a New Iron Curtain around Russia

Paul Goble

            Staunton, April 6 – The Russian National Security Council under the chairmanship of Vladimir Putin today discussed and moved to approve a new law on state border policy, one that replaces the policy Boris Yeltsin promulgated in 1996 and that will significantly tighten controls along the border of the Russian Federation.

            The new document was prepared by the FSB “in connection with the changing geopolitical situation” and the increase in the number and size of threats to Russian national security from abroad, that is, to defend the country from people crossing the border into the Russian Federation (

            The new policy specifies that expanded border security will help secure Russia’s sovereignty, the exclusive right of Russians to water areas, “political and social stability, the personal security of citizens, and ‘also the establishment of conditions’ for their socio-economic, spiritual-moral and cultural development.”

            The new border will ensure the defense of Russia’s natural resources, ecological and epidemiological security, and the maintenance of good-neighborly relations with adjoining countries. 

            But the document, Kommersant reports, devotes particular attention to blocking efforts at “destabilizing the socio-political situation on territories bordering the Russian Federation on the basis of unresolved socio-economic problems, religious-ethnic conflicts, and manifestations of separatism and also among the population living in the border regions.”

            And it notes that “a number of foreign states” have territorial claims against Russia and attempts at penetrating the country by terrorists and extremists.  In addition, it says that there are particular risks in Russian regions which have low population density and are isolated in terms of transportation networks.

            Soviet officials justified the tight border controls they imposed in the same way, in order to prevent outsiders from coming in. But in reality, Soviet borders were intended as a control mechanism to keep people in. And at a time when Putin is talking about Russia as a besieged fortress, it appears that the new document will lead to border controls with the same impact.

            Curiously, as Putin and his security officials were meeting, two articles appeared that suggest at least some Russians are thinking about the possibility of living with “a new iron curtain.”  In the first, Vzglyad reported that young Russians are not disturbed by that prospect (

            And in the second, the Znak portal published a long article on the iron curtain in Soviet times entitled “How Our Country Separated Itself from the World and was Converted into a Big Concentration Camp” (

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