No Way To Closer Integration Efforts Among Ex-Soviet Satellites Under Putin’s Scheme

Fuad Muxtarlı Analysis 27 April 2020
No Way To Closer Integration Efforts Among Ex-Soviet Satellites Under Putin’s Scheme

One of Russia’s most influential business magnates believes his country has become a “quasi-monarchy” - a sign of how President Vladimir Putin’s move to clear the way to rule until 2036 has changed the landscape of Russian politics.

In a tightly choreographed bit of political theater this week, the 67-year-old Vladimir Putin gave himself the option of ruling for two additional six-year terms when his current tenure expires in 2024. Now comes the harder part for the Kremlin: persuading Russians to accept their new czar.

In the meantime, Russian President Vladimir Putin has renewed his call for closer cooperation among former Soviet satellite countries for their own benefits. And this calls comes at a time when many former constituent parts of the Soviet empire lost their independence more or less a century ago.

Azerbaijan saw the incursion of the Soviet army into the country on 28 April 1920 and the destruction of what the first national state had achieved within 24 months of its independence. As this article is not aimed at analysing that period in-depth, I will focus on the Russian president’s tricks to lure the former republics into his own scheme – that is, the restoration of the former USSR under may be a new brand.

Intelligence officer cannot be former even after they quit their profession and retain their professional skills, first of all, they know when to lay bare their plans.

Vladimir Putin is said to be a former intelligence officer. By the way, he himself has never hidden it and let others know that he is proud of his past. Recently, Vladimir Putin let his hair down unprofessionally to such a topic under discussion as nostalgia for the Soviet past.

In an interview with the program “Moscow. Kremlin. Putin” on Russia-1 channel said that fears of the revival of the USSR in post-Soviet countries were gradually being overcome, since the integrating efforts are beneficial to everyone.

“We have to say straightforwardly about this: overcoming some phobias of the past, overcoming fears about the revival of the Soviet Union and the Soviet empire, nevertheless, the understanding that joining efforts are for the benefit of all, makes its way inevitably,” the Russian president reasoned.

In his opinion, all participants in the integration processes in the post-Soviet space feel these advantages, and generally, everywhere in the world, countries are trying to increase their competitiveness by joining forces, so that “for the former Soviet republics this is - absolutely natural thing" and by this claim, he made a series of revelations.

First, the Russian president sends an understandable message to the audience: the Kremlin intends to further promote integration in the post-Soviet space and join forces, etc. - up to the creation of a single state. Now, according to Vladimir Putin, the matter is small - now let the republics believe that the restoration of the USSR is not scary, say goodbye to all kinds of “phobias” and everything will be fine. Even in Russian news, Putin’s speech went under a clear heading: “Putin called on the post-Soviet republics to unite.”

After such a revelation, it’s time to ask the adherents of the “most delicious ice cream sect”. Are they still sure that there is absolutely no policy whatsoever for nostalgic slobbers on that very ice cream, Doktorskiy sausage and soda from vending machines and this is not a “promotion campaign” to promote a project whose ultimate goal is the destruction of the independence of the former union republics? However, it is unlikely that they can wait for an intelligible and honest answer.

Another thing is important. Vladimir Putin, to put it more polite, is not dealing with “phobias” but with understandable historical experience. Which on the scene, that is, in the post-Soviet space, has not been forgotten and is unlikely to be forgotten in the foreseeable future. And he, this experience, includes not only the leafy fountain at VDNKh (Exhibition of Economic Achievements), but also decades of shameless colonial robbery, repression, including against the national intelligentsia, mass deportations, "hungry genocide", redrawing the borders...

Finally, in the past three decades, the post-Soviet states without Moscow “bosses” have already gained plenty of other experience and are already independent. So in the post-Soviet space, there is something to compare. It is no coincidence that not all countries of the post-Soviet space participate in these very integration projects spearheaded by the Kremlin.

So it would be interesting to clarify whether Vladimir Putin had in mind only those new independent states that today participate in his integration projects, like the EAEU and the CSTO, or whether his integration dreams also apply to Azerbaijan, which participates in the Non-Aligned Movement, Georgia and Ukraine, which intends to join NATO and the EU, and the Baltic countries, which have already joined and are not going to leave them.

Today, even in those countries that participate in Russian integration projects, centrifugal tendencies are also growing - just remember the “oil dispute” between Russia and Belarus, difficult relations with Kazakhstan, etc. Finally, social and economic problems are growing in Russia itself, which is clearly losing its attractiveness as an integration core.

Do you honestly believe the Russian president not in the know about all this? Was he not reported about it? Did he confuse other people's “phobias” with his own phantom-sovereign moods? Or is he sure that he will defeat the audience of the post-Soviet countries with his eloquence?

Frankly, it’s hard to refrain from politically incorrect irony and textbook comparisons with an alcoholic husband, from whom, tired of eternal drunkenness and beatings, his wife leaves, and he stumbles over empty bottles, yelling: “Who needs you except me! Wait, you’ll crawl up on your knees and beg that I let you go back!”, And at the end:“Well, don’t leave !!!!!!” But seriously, the Kremlin’s propagandists can, of course, yell at all the official horns, as Mother Russia, solely out of kindness of heart and out of a sense of political altruism, “lifted the former republics” and contributed to their development.

But there is no doubt in fact: the whole history of being in a single state, whether it be the Russian empire or the USSR, all that Putin beautifully calls "joining forces", in fact, was shameless colonial robbery in the interests of the "center". And today, amid growing social and economic problems, the Russian authorities, apparently, decided to "feed" at the expense of the former Soviet republics. And at the same time, it will strengthen its own image at the expense of the laurels of "land collectors".

But... what exactly is Putin's plans? Just talk on an attractive topic and maintain your rating, diving in sync with the ruble, with conversations in the style "here’s a little more - and we will restore the USSR"? Or is Vladimir Putin quite seriously prepared to “advance integration”? But how? Does he expect to "lure" the republic with a stale "carrot" with the Soviet "quality mark"? Or is Russia going to “promote integration” by other methods - about the same as in the late eighties and early nineties republics tried to keep in the USSR?

Those with which they were punished for taking too seriously their own independence? If anyone forgot, in Azerbaijan this list includes the tragedy of January 20, 1990, the complicity of the Russian 366th regiment in the Xocali (Khojaly) genocide, and the regular Russian military units that fought on the side of Armenia. The examples of Georgia and Ukraine are all the more informative.

Only now the example of the “Crimea is ours” was to show the Kremlin: the time of complacency towards the Kremlin on the world stage has ended. And now, for the sovereign-phantom mood, you will have to pay a much higher price than many people in the Kremlin expected and suggest. And asking for this price will be not only in the post-Soviet capitals.