Staunton, April 29 – Ever more people in Moscow, the former Soviet republics, and the broader world are asking whether the Soviet space still exists, Sergey Markedonov says, a question that naturally arises because the demise of the Soviet Union was not a one-time action and because the space itself suffers from five as yet unresolved paradoxes.
Many analysts fail to remember that the Beloveshchaya accords which ended the Soviet Union’s existence also guaranteed the borders of the former Soviet republics, a condition that has not been observed, the Caucasus specialist at the Russian State Humanities University says (russiancouncil.ru/analytics-and-comments/interview/rossiya-i-zapad-na-postsovetskom-prostranstve-chto-budet/).
And they continue to argue that the region is “unified” by its past, although no one now speaks of “a post-British space” in India, Parkistan, Bangladesh or Nigeria because the situation with regard to those former British colonies is not fraught with the paradoxes that the situation of the post-Soviet space still has not resolved.
“The process of the disintegration of the Soviet Union understood as a lengthy historical and not simply legal process has not been ended because there is no USSR,” Markedonov says. Indeed, “this process has not been completed,” otherwise we wouldn’t be talking about “the problems of Abkhazia, Transdniestria, Nagorno-Karabakh, Crimea, the Donbass and so on.”
This process displays five paradoxes, the analyst says in the course of a lengthy discussion of the situation in the area that once was the USSR:
First, “the former union republics may be ever further from one another but nevertheless, no final settlement has been reached, [and] this paradox,” he suggests will be one of the underlying conditions in the immediate future.”
Second, although it is not always fully appreciated, there is the paradoxical situation that “the configuration of the new independent states which we know today was formed in the Soviet past,” whether it is a question of borders, status or almost anything else.
Third, according to Markedonov, “the new independent states suffer from a serious illness, an attempt to cure internal problems with medicines from abroad,” a development that reflects “the internationalization” of this space and the entrance into all or part of it of players from outside.
Fourth, no country talks more about the former Soviet space as a common whole than does Russia, but no government treats it in a more diversified fashion than does Moscow, Markedonov says, sometimes recognizing breakaway republics and sometimes now, depending on its national interests. In short, Moscow’s policies are “to a significant degree reactive and not proactive” as far as this region is concerned.
And fifth, there is the paradox that the post-Soviet states are changing but that many, especially in Russia, don’t want to recognize that development or the fact that Moscow must engage in a real struggle even in places like Armenia. Instead, Russia often acts like “a sentimental boxer” who goes into the ring and is shocked that anyone hits back.
Markedonov concludes his argument by saying that at some point the post-Soviet period in the lives of all its constituent countries wil end, but only when “the settling of accounts with the Soviet Union” has occurred. That process is still going on and will likely do so for some time to come.
“As soon as these accounts are settled and we see a new and absolutely pragmatic agenda which will be concerned not with the question of who owns Crimea or Abkhazia but the issues of tariffs, trade [and the like], then we will be able to say: ‘Finally, the post-Soviet space has ended, and Soviet history has been completed as well.”