Staunton, November 26 – Yury Apukhtin, a 70-year old former resident of Kharkiv who was convicted of crimes for his support of Russian aggression against Ukraine but later sent to Russia in exchange for Ukrainian prisoners Moscow held, has outlined his vision of Russia’s future as an empire and a world power.
His words appear in the current issue of Moscow’s Voyennoye obozreniye, and they are important not so much as an indication of what the Russian state is capable of but rather for the insights they provide into the thinking those doing the Kremlin’s dirty work are being encouraged to have (topwar.ru/165095-russkij-globalnyj-proekt-i-vosstanovlenie-russkoj-imperii.html).
“Russia until recently was one of the two world superpowers and now is slowly reviving its power,” Apukhtin says. “In its essence, it is an imperial power and cannot exist in any other way.” Its borders have expanded and contracted in cycles, including other peoples within them but “without their assimilation” and allowing them to “retain their unique features.”
The Russian state, he continues, “was always a unique empire: the metropolitan center did not steal from the provinces. On the contrary, it developed them using resources from the center. This allowed for the formation of a powerful Russian civilization different in principle from the Western, at the foundation of which lie completely different mental values.”
This difference has its roots in the different religions of Russia and the West. Russia’s Orthodoxy promotes collectivism over individualism, while in contrast, “the customs and traditions of the peoples of Western civilization are based on individualism and the priority of personal goals.”
“Attempts by Russian elites at various points to integrate Russia into Western civilization have not been supported by society and have ended in failure. We are too different to live together.” That hostility intensified with “the creation of the Soviet empire” whose communist principles were also based on collectivism.
“With the collapse of the Union,” Apukhtin says, “the borderland peoples of the emprie began to flee to their own national corners. Instead of the imperial ideology of communism, all the borderlands took up pathetic nationalism which everywhere led to the degradation of these petty states and the impoverishment of the peoples.”
Meanwhile, in Russia itself, he continues, efforts to impose nationalism failed because “the Russian people by its essence is imperial. Nationalism is too small a thing for it and limits its strivings.” The Yeltsin government did not recognize this, but Vladimir Putin has brought back imperial ideas and interests to the center of Russian policy.
The West didn’t like this, but it hasn’t been able to stop it and won’t, Apukhtins argues. And Russia will continue to revive the empire not by force although it could but because “the former Soviet borderlands themselves” will want to return to Russia because of its more attractive civilization.
Given the current international correlation of forces, he argues, Russia must realize this project of “returning the former Soviet republics.” That requires that Russia itself develop a powerful economy capable of helping those former republics and thus making them want to return. Russia is “slowly” doing so.
“The two post-Soviet Slavic states, Ukraine and Belarus occupy the primary place in the Russian global project and without their return one cannot speak about the rebirth of Russian civilization,” Apukhtin says. “Their loss inflicted colossal damage on Russia and in fact destroyed Russian civilization.”
“The Russian leadership, having lost the first round of the struggle for Ukraine to the West, is trying now with the help of the Minsk Agreements not to allow the fial departure of Ukraine into Western civilization. That is why Russia has not recognized the independence of the Donbass.
“It is needed as a Trojan horse for the destruction of the neo-Nazi regime in Ukraine from the inside and as a locomotive for the return of Ukrainian society to its native household divinities.” (stress supplied) The Donbass will never again be part of Ukraine. Instead, “it must become a second, alternative Ukraine” and help all of Ukraine reintegrate with Russia.
The situation with regard to Belarus is not simple but it must be returned as well. As far as the other former Soviet republics are concerned, Apukhtin says, Russia has no interest in their parts like South Ossetia or Transdniestria; it wants to bring all of the republics out of which these have been carved back into Moscow’s orbit.
He concludes: “Russia is approaching its next cycle of broadening its territory, and the process of reintegration of the post-Soviet space and the achievement of the global Russian project require strategic and long-term actions to prepare the former Soviet republics for unification in Russian civilization.”