Monday, June 9, 2014

Window on Eurasia: Putin Accelerating Russia’s Demise by Allying with China Rather than with the West, Former Advisor Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 9 – Aleksandr Kokh, a former Kremlin aide and advisor, says that by choosing to ally with China, Vladimir Putin is bringing closer the day of Russia’s funeral because the country lacks the resources to go its own way and will be forced to play by the rules however onerous of its more powerful partner.

            Kokh says that those who think Russia can preserve its complete independence in isolation from others because of its nuclear weapons and oil and gas reserves are wrong.  And consequently, Russians need to think seriously about what the different alliances offer will mean (

                Talking about taking on the world may play well among some domestic audiences, the analyst concedes, but such sloganeering is really an implicit announcement that the “game is over” because Russia is weak economically and has too small a population to be an independent center.

            Attempts at going one’s own way of the kind Putin is pursuing will only hasten the day when Russia will simply be a raw materials supplier for others and when it will be “impossible” for Moscow to act independently. This is “so evident,” Kokh suggests, that it hardly needs discussion.

            Russia must become part of “some global alliance,” whether it likes it or not. “And as a member of an alliance [it will have to] delegate part of its sovereignty to the super-national organs of the alliance and accept the rules of the game accepted in the alliance even if they seem to [Russians] irrational, hypocritical or initially even harmful.”

            At present, Moscow has only a small choice: “either the West or China.”  “If you take a decision not to integrate with the West ... then this means you have taken a decision to enter an alliance with China.” That is because “nature abhors a vacuum, and the absence of one global force in a particular place means the presence of the other.”

                Moscow’s attempts to suggest that there are “in general no other force except ourselves” is “a dangerous illusion and self-deception,” Kokh continues. Instead, “we must decide which alliance we want to be a member of: the West’s or the Chinese.” Kokh says he would very much prefer Russia to ally itself with the West, but Putin has chosen the alternative.

            According to the Moscow analyst, Russian culture and Russian identity have a chance to be preserved, after they have been “changed and modernized” only if Russia makes “the Western choice.  The Chinese choice will destroy it.”

            As a result of Putin’s choice, “we are present at the funeral of Russia. The territory remains, as does a certain number of semi-literate metises for the servicing of pipelines.  That is all our new friends and protectors need.” But is it what Russians themselves really want, he implicitly asks.

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