Staunton, October 15 – If Russia is to be a great power – and it must be that or cease to exist – it must transform the Commonwealth of Independent States into “a Union of Russian Republics” by making the reunification of the former Soviet space the highest priority of its foreign policy, Vyacheslav Tetekin says in the current issue of Voyenno-Promyslenny Kuryer.
The KPRF Duma deputy suggests that “the leadership of Russia is beginning to recognize the depth of the failure of policies concerning our closest neighbors, the countries of the Commonwealth,” including the slipping away of some like Armenia and Belarus that no one imagined was possible (vpk.name/news/335702_sng_poteryannyii_mir.html).
This development, Tetekin says, reflects the confluence of three factors: the failure of Moscow to make the restoration of a single state in the region a priority, the ambitions of the leaders of the new states, and the actions of outside powers who see pulling these countries away from Moscow as a useful way to weaken Russia.
The most important thing to do, he continues, is to “change the attitude toward the CIS countries as second-tier partners in comparison with the major powers of the West and East. This is an issue of setting strategic goals. It has long been known that Russia can be either great or non-existent.”
“For the restoration of the real status of a superpower, it is vitally necessary that our country restore a union of fraternal peoples which over the course of centuries was forged in work and battle,” Tetekin says. Promotion of Russian in these countries is vital, “an issue of historical necessity.”
Such efforts are not about expansion but rather about the return of Russia to its “natural borders which existed in the USSR after 1945. Moscow might have expanded them at that point, but it limited itself to the annexation of Kaliningrad Oblast and the return of Sakhalin and the Kuriles.
“Why?” he asks rhetorically. “Because the country then had returned to its natural borders and any further expansion would have given rise to new problems.” Now having been thrown back by a century with the disintegration of the USSR in 1991, Russia must focus on this, as it would on “any historical mistake” and “sooner or later” correct it.
According to Teterkin, “this is in the interests not only of the present-day Russian Federation but also of all former fraternal republics. Without the revival of a union with Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan and other constituent parts of the USSR, neither Russia nor its neighbors will be able to rise and escape the difficult crisis into which pro-Western forces have driven us.”
Of course, Teterkin says, “one isn’t talking about the restoration of the Union in its former shape. The new union will arise in various forms and at various speeds on the basis of the voluntary decision of the peoples led in that direction by the obvious economic requirements.”
“But if the goal is the restoration of a common state, then the means must be commensurate.” It is clearly time to think about restoring the Ministry for CIS Affairs that was disbanded in 2000, giving tax benefits to Russian companies that invest in these neighbors, and increase the number of students from these states in Russian higher educational institutions.
In addition, he continues, it is necessary to create pro-Russian NGOs in these countries and expand Russian propaganda in them both by broadcasting from Russia and setting up pro-Moscow media in these states. But none of this will have the desired effect if it doesn’t reflect a fundamental shift in focus of Russian foreign policy.
That that means the following, Teterkin concludes. Moscow must shift its focus “from excessive attraction to relations with the West to the first-order task of restoring a union of fraternal countries in its immediate neighborhood.”