Sunday, April 22, 2018

Existence of British Commonwealth a Continuing Indictment of Russia’s Failure, Melnikov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, April 23 – A few days ago, the Russian foreign ministry accused Great Britain not only of holding “the world record for genocide” but of being behind the murders of Tsar Paul I and the mad monk Grigory Rasputin. Few observers accept either charge, Moscow commentator Aleksey Melnikov suggests, or should they.

            But there is one aspect of Britain that Russian officials don’t like even to mention, he says, because it highlights an indictment of Moscow for an amazing and continuing failure: the inability of Russia to form anything like the British Commonwealth, with its 53 member sttes and 2.4 billion people (

                Why have Vladimir Putin and other Russia leaders “who emerged from the Soviet past and the Soviet special services not been able to establish since the disintegration of the USSR anything like the British Commonwealth” which unites London and its former colonies? Melnikov asks rhetorically.

            “Why on ‘the post-Soviet space’ have Putin and Lavrov instead carried out annexations and wars? Why have they made Ukraine and Georgia opponents of Russia? Why of the countries of the former USSR does Russia not have a single ally? Even Belarus having built its national state with Russian resources will leave for Europe at the first chance it gets?”

            “Why,” Melnikov asks, “do all the countries of the former USSR look at Russia with fear?  -- a view none of the members of the British Commonwealth have of the United Kingdom.

            Instead, “Britain is an attractive model for the countries of the Commonwealth. Its political system, press, courts and free economy are an example and values which the member states want to share … Thus, they feel drawn to Britain despite the colonial past,” the Russian commentator continues.

            The “new Russia” has none of these attractive qualities, and no one wants to adopt its system for itself. Russia is not only a bandit country but a backward one “in all senses.” And “therefore, the surrounding countries are running from it.” And tragically, “all the causes of this flight are from within Russia itself.”

            “Britain was able to draw conclusions from its colonial history,” Melnikov says.” It was able to create “a vital organism on the ruins of its former empire, one which corresponded to the spirit of the new times.”  The new Russia, however, “hasn’t learned anything from its history” and is simply angry and seeking revenge for what occurred in 1991.

            “This hasn’t ended well. Russia has suffered a historic defeat, a strategic defeat. It remains isolated and domestically weak … [And] it is incapable of offering itself or the world anything which corresponds to the spirit of the times or gives positive prospects for itself and for others.”

                It is unclear how long this “convulsion” is going to last. “But the end is clear and has been so for a long time,” he says.  A country can’t live in the present-day world the way Russia is trying to. “And Russia will not live in the future as it lives now. It must change its assessment of itself, its history, and its place in the world … It must learn from Western countries.”

            At some point, “Russia will become part of the contemporary world, just as Germany and Japan did so after World War II.” Whatever its leaders in Moscow think, it has no choice but to do so if it is to survive.

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