Staunton, October 12 – While many analysts are suggesting the former Soviet republics are moving ever further away from Moscow (e.g., rusmonitor.com/roman-yuneman-postsovetskoe-prostranstvo-razvalivaetsya-na-glazah.html), Aleksandr Sobyanin says that Russia will have a new union treaty signed by some of them as early as the next six months.
In a commentary for the KPRF’s Pravda, the head of the Asian Military-Cultural Center of the Eurasian Integration Foundation, says that the Kremlin will take this step in order to position itself to defend along with China its power in what he sees as a coming third world war (pravda.ru/world/1538658-USSR/).
Much of what he says is Eurasianist and neo-Soviet bombast, but some of his argument appears to reflect what the powers that be around Putin actually believe and thus is worthy of attention as an indication of what they may actually try to so in the coming months. Whether they can succeed, of course, is another matter entirely.
He suggests that Putin and some of his entourage have been moving in this direction since 2005 but that fortunately few in the media have paid much attention. And Sobyanin lists eight steps that he believes the Kremlin will be taking toward these ends over the next half a year and beyond.
First, more than other countries, Russia recognizes that climate change is working to its benefit, making the Northern Sea Route far more important than any other links between
Europe and Asia.
Second, it understands that the center of gravity in the world is shifting from the Atlantic and northern Mediterranean to the Indian and Pacific oceans and wants to position itself in Africa and South America as well to take advance of the shift away from Europe.
Third, the Kremlin recognizes the need to restore long-term strategic planning, and fourth, it has prepared in support of that “a new ‘military-mobilizational’ civic government administration and cadres management system.”
Fifth, it is preparing to put in place strict new laws governing land management and use. Sixth, it has prepared “a legal basis for the restoration and recreation of the USSR with a new list of creators,” including first and foremost Kyrgyzstan, Belarus, and the so-called unrecognized states.
Seventh, the Kremlin is restoring the network of friends the USSR had in Asia, Africa, and Latin American. And eighth, it is “renewing the concept of Altay civilization” and thereby laying the foundations for “the establishment of a new Great Russian ethnos.”
Vladimir Putin views the Soviet past as a model, the analyst continues, and he recognizes that a new USSR is necessary but that it will be complected differently and over time. The first step in this direction, he argues, will be the signing sometime between December 2020 and March 2021 of a new Union treaty.
To begin with, that treaty will not be signed by the 15 former republics of the USSR or limited to them. Kyrgyzstan, Belarus and Kazakhstan will be among the first, then, Armenia and Tajikistan, and later the countries of Central Asia and even the Baltic. (Perhaps significantly, he doesn’t mention Ukraine or Georgia.)
One innovation, Sobyanin continues, will be that “Daghestan, Abkhazia, Bashkortostan, Tatarstan, Tyva “and a number of other ASSRs” will become “full-fledged signatories of the new treaty on the recreation of the USSR” as will a newly unified Ossetian ASSR. That will be supported by both elites and masses.
On the one hand, this is a neo-imperialist fantasy and may not go anywhere. But on the other hand, it highlights something that is often ignored: the desire of many of the non-Russian republics to increase their status relative to Moscow. That is something they sought without success in 1990-1991.
What Sobyanin’s suggestions indicate is that there may be some in the Kremlin now who are prepared to play on that in order to rebuild the USSR, exactly the kind of political jujitsu that Putin is famous or notorious for and one that would scramble the political arrangements inside Russia as well as across Eurasia.