Staunton, March 27 – Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s visit to Beijing after saying that “Brussels has destroyed relations with Moscow” and that Russia and China should use national currencies for trade rather than the dollar is a clear sign that “Russia is preparing to become a province of China,” Aleksey Kromsky says.
That is somewhat hyperbolic, the Moscow political consultant suggests; but in fact, in the kind of world that the Kremlin is seeking, it will be behind a new iron curtain together with China and this time around will be the junior partner, supplying raw materials to its more powerful ally (echo.msk.ru/blog/zaratystra/2811992-echo/).
All this follows the Soviet model but with one important exception. Instead of Russia being the leader of the anti-Western forces, it will be the junior partner to China, hardly a position Moscow or Russians more generally will really welcome but that may help keep the Putin regime in power – the only thing its denizens care about.
Indeed, Kromsky says, “in seeking to retain power at any price, the Kremlin is ready to agree to the role of a Chinese satellite, because if one looks objectively at the level of Russian and Chinese economies, it is obvious that union with the Heavenly Kingdom will lead to the conversion of Russia into one of the districts of China.”
The Kremlin’s repression of dissidents like Aleksey Navalny is part of this move back to life behind an iron curtain, he continues, and Russians should prepare themselves for the reappearance of “’exit visas’” of the kinds that they had to get in Soviet times from the CPSU and the KGB.
Some in the Kremlin no doubt welcome all this as a way of keeping their positions, and they also believe that sanctions against them will benefit the regime just as they have benefited the regime of the ayatollahs in Iran. In both cases, the populations have suffered but the regimes are firmer than they were.
Kromsky’s words may be an exaggeration of where things stand just now, but as he points out, the Chinese think long term and build toward it in small steps. Chinese firms are already active in Siberia and the Far East, and today, a Chinese-Russian structure was set up to ensure that more food produced in Russia goes to China (svpressa.ru/economy/article/293815/).
That will guarantee supplies to China and higher prices for Russian producers, but it will also mean higher prices and potentially shortages for Russian consumers, something that the Kremlin doesn’t appear to think it has to worry about as long as the money is coming in to its allies and the people aren’t going into the streets.