It Doesn‘t Matter Whether with Putin or Not

A question what will happen to Russia when 2024 comes, of course, is interesting. Does the answer depend on Putin’s decision? Maybe not just on him? 
A prominent American geopolitical forecaster George Friedman says that Russ…

A question what will happen to Russia when 2024 comes, of course, is interesting. Does the answer depend on Putin’s decision? Maybe not just on him? 
A prominent American geopolitical forecaster George Friedman says that Russia of the 21 century is a state of downturn and after a few years we can see not its prosperity but a new political and economic crisis.   
G. Friedman has his own logics. During the last two decades not a single project of Russia and not a single dream have not come true. A generation that didn’t live during Soviet times has already grown up. On one hand, it might seem that Russia is powerful and is able ‘to put together’ the former republics, however geopolitical greed, the desire to get everything what it used to have and to have everything outright is its greatest problem. Russia is not strong enough in this respect. The country has no attractive messianistic idea. Gas and fist are not appealing even to potential allies and nothing else has been made so far.  
However, this is rather a conclusion from discussions about this country. If you ask what arguments of this prominent geopolitical forecaster are, let’s go deeper into them. The fate of Russia is not determined by Putin but the nature of Russia. This is confirmed by the community of Russian geopolitical analysts.  
In the emotional point of view the mood of the losing great country is dominating. Losing not just like that, losing without a fight for which Russia put so much effort and time preparing for. After collapse of the internal Warsaw Treaty and the Soviet Union, Russia all of a sudden lost its catch of 300-year expansion ‘to Europe’. However, maybe it has taken over too much? Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in his work ‘How we should handle Russia’ thinks that the USSR was a far too big state. The real Russia with Belarus, Ukraine and Kazakhstan has to form a geopolitical explanation and steady Slavic community. A very small part of the political elite of Russia is formally reconciled with the current geography of Russia, but it also accepts the permission of the West ‘to handle deals’ in its (former USSR) territory as a very natural thing. How else? The recent map of Russia simply contradicts the canons of classical geopolitics to see Russia with the shortest overland boarders.     
According to thinkers of Russia who call themselves Eurasians, Russia as the biggest Slavic state, representing the biggest Slavic nation, has to pursue the mission of ‘protection and defence’ of all Slavic nations. The doctrine was realized to the greatest extent after World War II when the USSR could almost unilaterally dictate its policy over the Central and Eastern Europe. Thus, does Russia need Central Europe? 
Nations of the Russian empire constitute a certain civilization that is different from both the West and Central Europe. It is a mixture of Europe and Asia: ‘Russia would not exist without the iron heel of Mongolian Tatars’.
At the same time the authorities of Eurasianism almost agree that Eurasia is separated from Europe by an unseen climatic ‘wall’, which almost coincides with the wall of the former Grand Duchy of Lithuania and Grand Duchy of Moscow of 1771. Friedman calls it a boundary of the continental Eurasia and ‘European peninsula’. This is why Lithuania will never be Russia and Russia would never feel comfortably in Lithuania. So no wonder that the longest war in the history of Lithuania was always going on somewhere near that boundary. However, if Russia stays outside this boundary – it will just remain the Grand Duchy of Moscow, that’s why it does not desire for the reasons known to everyone. Thus, the fight for glory of Russia is a fight for territories of the former Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.     
There were statements that during the years of the Cold war an ideological confrontation contradistinguished the West and East and it formally disappeared, however, not it but the difference in geopolitical thinking between the West and East. Even without an ideological confrontation the main strategic interest of Russia is to escape geopolitical pressure from the West, i.e. NATO and US expansion, to oust the USA from Europe to begin with. Everything what objects to the USA in Europe is to the benefit of Russia and Eurasianism. However, Russia that still has the remaining thinking in geographical categories since the time of unhappy Peter, has to admit that Central Europe is the obstacle to the West.   
Actually, Russia has never helped Europe as it is now. However, this assistance not only comforts but also scares Russia. Russia is used to seeing minor European states and institutionalized Europe is actually threatening. We should not forget that Russia wins not just by force. It wins because the West often ignores it underserved. As geopolitical analyst Edward Luttwak from the USA wrote they, Russians, ‘beat Napoleon drunk, beat Hitler drunk, they may beat NATO drunk, too’. A more nationalist Russian will remind that the same Russians after all participated in solution of the fate of Europe after the greatest military cataclysms, they did not cause a new world war.       
M. Gorbachev finished the Cold War. B. Yeltsin tried to create Russia without any objections to the West, created Russia that could anyway be assigned at least several signs of a democratic state. A more complicated situation is with V. Putin. Russian government started to consolidate the nation in the long-time used, although not the most moral method – by wars and superpower chauvinism. V. Putin came into power not because of economic or social problems or ways of their solutions but the war. The war used to strengthen the spirit of Russia like nothing else for several last decades. By the way, not just of Russia.  
V. Putin is not angry at theoreticians that consider current Russia as the Soviet Union, just a smaller one. This type of Russia is the closest to him and its inhabitants can simply draw strength from such Russia today. This kind of Russia is better than dreams of Aleksander Solzhenitsyn about the sacred union of Eastern Slavs or the Grand Duchy of Moscow before Peter. A Soviet hymn of Putin with an imperial double-headed eagle and a Slavic three-colour flag is just a mixture of Soviets, Solzhenitsyn or even older symbols of Russia and ideologies. However, Putin’s Russia fulfils not its own policy but of already non-existing USSR towards neighbours still hoping that internationalism described in books and timeless zones of the Soviet influence still exists. However, the demography and biology operate not to the benefit of Russia – most inhabitants of the Central Asia were born and became adults not during the times of the USSR. Russia is not a political nostalgia to them. Majority of Slavic ‘sisters’ of Russia thanks to freedom of information got convinced that there are better alternatives to the government of Moscow. The European Russia is fighting for some kind of European identity and Asian is fighting for its survival. Physical existence but not its quality is more important to this Asian Russia – it can even become atheist, Islamic, etc. A centralized state in eleven time zones has no chances to become dynamic. 
To tell the truth, what else is left to Russia – capitalism of the West to Russia comes in the roughest, the most inhuman and non-prepossessing form. It actually does not look nice to Russian people. They have grounds to feel nostalgia to the past.   
In this context Lithuania also has something to tell. Namely Lithuanians for the longest time interrupted the process of Europeanization of Russia. Lithuania consistently was fighting for the Grand Duchy of Moscow not to have the right to represent all Russians, because Lithuania was representing majority of them. Therefore, Russia was just the Duchy of Moscow to it and its people – Moscals. Maybe Russia was happier then? In Chechnya, Tartary and other sad peripheries of the Duchy of Moscow it should be clearer to Russians that the Duchy of Moscow is not the only place where it feels good to live… Some time ago it was much better to live in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. The President V. Putin and his successors will have just wait with dignity for new divisions of the duchy, this time of the Moscow. 
For two hundred years already Russia and the world know that Russia is a country that has most natural resources and it would become rich sooner or later. It has not become richer. An ordinary Russian has been and still remains the poorest European…
Egidijus Vareikis

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Autorius: Voras Online