Staunton, Nov. 16 -- Russian film director Nikita Mikhalkov’s suggestion that “the ideal Russia of the future” should unite the Russian Federation, Belarus and Ukraine but not the other former Soviet republics has sparked a debate among Moscow commentators with many suggesting that eventually that state should include all the parts of the former USSR.
Mikhalkov was explicit in stating that this future Russia should not include Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania because these three countries “live their own life and while they need a great deal from us, we need nothing from them,” an indication that he doesn’t want to see Russia assume burdens it shed in 1991 (svpressa.ru/politic/article/316278/).
Reactions to Mikhalkov’s statement varied widely. Moscow political scientist Vladimir Mozhegov says that “the question is above all who we are and who we feel ourselves to be.” As far as the Baltic countries are concerned, Russia’s relations with them are “quite complex,” but so too are Baltic relations with the West. A major reordering is ahead.
As far as Central Asia is concerned, here our interests are connected with India and Iran … I doubt that we need Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and the others within Russia. Let them serve instead as protective “air bags” rather than places we will be compelled to feed,” Mozhegov continues.
With regard to the Caucasus, the Moscow analyst says, Armenia and Georgia are Orthodox countries “which will want to be within Russia and sooner or later this will happen. As for the North Caucasus, this is an important key: if we let them go, many will follow.” There must be no question of their departure from Russian rule.
Andrey Milyuk, a leader of the unregistered Other Russia, says that Mikhalkov’s vision of Russia’s future size is too limited. He adds Latvia and Kazakhstan to that “ideal” map. They would already be different if Moscow had supported pro-Russian groups in those countries and elsewhere.
“The Soviet Union instilled an imperial mentality (a Soviet one as it is called in politically correct language) in many local residents in the national borderlands. And thus, not only ethnic Russians were massively involved in pro-Russian movements after the disintegration of the USSR.”
And another Moscow political commentator, Aleksandr Dudchak, says that Mikhalkov is wrong to suggest the Balts won’t be part of a re-expanded Russia. “Today, the Baltics are a headache not only for the EU but for themselves” because they are rapidly losing their industry and their populations.
They should eventually be reclaimed. As for Central Asia and the Southern Caucasus, Russia has no need to take them back and bear the burdens that would entail. At the same time, however, Dudchak insists that the countries in those regions should be tied to Russia by the closest economic and military-political unions.