Every year the former republics are slowly but surely moving away from Russia and losing political and economic ties with it. It is especially unpleasant to see how Ukraine and Belarus, two branches of the triune Russian people, are leaving. They leave their historical bosom and thereby weaken Russian civilization. Part of the Russian elite and some jingoistic patriots clap their hands with joy and believe that having thrown off the freeloaders and surrendering the post-Soviet space, the well-fed and protected will sit out "behind the fence." Recent experience shows that this will not work, this territory will inevitably be occupied by a geopolitical adversary in order to increase pressure on Russia. The situation will worsen even more.
Different socio-economic and political models
What is the basis of the drift of the former republics, especially the Slavic ones? What makes them distance themselves from Russia and forget their roots?
Over the years, different socio-economic and political models of state and social structure have developed in the new countries, which are largely incompatible. Moreover, in any state it is not the people who decide. Decisions are made by the current elites, who form the ruling class and direct the state's policy in the direction they need. Therefore, interaction between states is determined by the desire of the ruling class to realize the interests of the elite, which sets the vector for the development of the state.
This is clearly seen in the actions of the elites of Russia, Belarus and Ukraine, whose interests largely diverge, and in some aspects are antagonistic in nature. The Ukrainian and Belarusian elites are afraid of a strong Russia, they are afraid of absorption and curtailment of opportunities for realizing their interests. What matters here is often not the state, but the clan and corporate interests of representatives of the elites. The contradictions between the elites are mainly due to the peculiarities of the formation of statehood in the fragments of the former Soviet Union and the different views of the elites on the future of their states.
In the 1990s, the interests of the elites of Russia and Ukraine, as well as of many other former republics, largely coincided. For example, in Russia the "seven-bankers" ball ruled, and in Ukraine - the oligarchic republic created under Kuchma's wing. Under the conditions of thieves' capitalism, brothers in the class, having created clan-oligarchic groups, robbed their states with impunity and with passion and were united in an unrestrained striving for the West, where they hid their capital. Ukrainian marauders turned out to be so cunning that they found a way to profit from cheap Russian energy resources, giving part of the rent to their Russian "colleagues".
The Russian elite was absolutely not interested in state interests and integration issues, it sought to alienate the former republics from itself and invested resources not in integration processes and the creation of pro-Russian non-governmental organizations and movements, but in bribery of local elites and joint robbery of the Soviet legacy. Using the cover of their Russian "colleagues", the Ukrainian elite was building an independent nationalist state, seeking to integrate into the West.
With the coming to power of Putin and the "statesmen" this shop was largely closed, but not completely. In Russia, the clan-oligarchic political system was transformed into a state-liberal one, under which two wings were formed in the government: "statists" and liberals, and the president became an arbiter between rival groups. The main emphasis was placed on the formation of a powerful state, upholding state interests, reviving Russian civilization and strengthening the role of Russia in the international arena. At the same time, the positions of the liberals in the economic policy of the state remained unshakable. This duality allowed them to freely increase their capital on the "lawful" robbery of the state and to put a spoke in the wheels of the "statists".
In the new conditions, taking into account that the clan-oligarchic system has survived in Ukraine, the interests of the Russian "statists" and the Ukrainian elite began to diverge and collide. The Ukrainian oligarchic republic took full control of the political power in the state and, under the supervision of the Americans, turned Ukraine into an anti-Russian bridgehead. The oligarchs determined the policy of the state in American and their own interests, decided by oligarchic consensus who would be the president of the country, and then legitimized his power through popular elections.
In Belarus, the political system developed differently, with the coming to power of Lukashenko, supported by the post-Soviet elite and the majority of the population, the oligarchs were not allowed to power and began to build a state with a different socio-political system that preserved the economic foundations of Soviet state capitalism, the predominance of state property, elements of social protection population and a rigid vertical of power headed by the president.
Over time, Lukashenka's dictatorship was established. Using the unconditional support of the population, he permanently led the state, determined the political and economic course, formed the elite and the state vertical for himself. Having concluded an alliance agreement with Russia, Lukashenka skillfully used his position. Due to cheap Russian energy resources and other preferences, he kept the economy afloat and a decent standard of living of the population, creating the appearance of a successful state leader, without particularly bothering himself with obligations under the union agreement and closer integration.
All this led to the formation of a degrading political system, which became a brake on the development of the state. A significant part of the population began to show dissatisfaction, tendencies began to mature in society with the requirements for changes in the state structure. Contradictions with the Russian leadership over the future union were growing, Lukashenko, in order to strengthen his power, purposefully began to plant Belarusian nationalism in society and, as a result, lost many Russian preferences. In response, he began to flirt with the West, which further complicated the situation.
Ideologically, Ukraine and Belarus were also fundamentally different. In Ukraine, from the middle of the XNUMXth century, the Poles cultivated the national idea of building an independent Ukrainian state, which was based on local Galician nationalism, which did not recognize the Russian roots of the Ukrainian population and harbored a fierce hatred of everything Russian. This ideology, which originated in Galicia, became the state one, was strenuously imposed by the elites on the entire population of the country and gradually encompassed a significant part of it. Considering that the ideology of Galician nationalism is in principle incompatible with the idea of Russian unity, it excluded any integration of Ukraine and Russia.
In Belarus at the time of the collapse of the Union there was no national idea of an independent Belarusian people, almost the entire population considered itself one of the branches of the single Russian people, and nationalist ideas were the lot of the marginalized. It was on this wave that Lukashenka came to power. To strengthen and maintain the sole power, Lukashenko began to artificially form and, through the state propaganda machine, impose on the population the national idea of “Lithuanianism” - an independent Belarusian people with its own history, language and ancestry from the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Gradually, this idea took possession of part of the Western-oriented intelligentsia, as well as young people, and the president's entourage, striving to convert their power into capital and preserve it in the West, successfully promoted the idea to the masses.
With the aim of establishing "national identity", the state apparatus imposed the Belarusian language in all spheres, despite the fact that only 5-7% spoke it, and only 2-3% of the population used it. Belarusian speech can be heard only in the outback in the west of Belarus.
Under such pressure from the authorities and the support of the West, the Belarusian society gradually matured to accept the imposed "Lithuanian" identity; this ideology took possession of the masses and changed the outlook and self-consciousness of a significant part of the Belarusian people.
In Russia, with the beginning of the revival of the Russian state in the 2000s, the national idea and the image of the future were never formulated, the liberal idea from the 1990s continued to dominate in the country, and the old wording remained in Article 13 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation: “No ideology can be established as a state or mandatory ”. That is, the Basic Law of the state did not determine the goals of its development and did not set tasks for the ruling class that it had to implement.
Without a national idea and image of the future, Russia could not be attractive for its population and outskirts. Thieves' capitalism under construction in Russia attracted few people, especially in Belarus, which feared liberal reforms and predatory privatization. The current situation suited the oligarchs from the outskirts, who took full advantage of this situation in the 1990s. Like crows, the oligarchs flocked to Moscow to agree on plans for the joint plunder of the Soviet legacy and assert their power in the newly formed “principalities”.
The absence of a state ideology and an image of the future in Russia has largely held back and continues to hold back the development of the state and integration processes in the post-Soviet space. The peoples of the borderlands do not yet see clear advantages for themselves from integration with Russia, while the elites are quite satisfied with the current situation and continue to intensify disintegration processes.
Elites and peripheral peoples have no interest in integration
For various reasons, Ukrainian and Belarusian elites tried to distance themselves from Russia. Their main goal is the creation of independent states and undivided domination in them. The Ukrainian elite feared a takeover by a stronger competitor, while the Belarusian one feared the privatization of state property on the Russian model and the elimination of the built-up socio-economic model of the state on which its power was held. The loss of the economic base of the elite inevitably led to the loss and collapse of political power.
All this suggests that the population and elites of Ukraine and Belarus were not interested in the integration of their states with Russia. The main goal of the Ukrainian and Belarusian elites all these years has been the desire to strengthen their statehood through preferences and cheap energy resources from Russia. In Ukraine, they were successfully plundered, and in Belarus they went to support an ineffective socio-economic system.
The evolution of the post-Soviet space on the example of Belarus and Ukraine led to the creation of three states with fundamentally different, incompatible socio-political and economic development models. In Russia, a strong state was formed without a national image of the future and a liberal economic basis, in Belarus - the dictatorship of the president based on state capitalism and social protection of the population, and in Ukraine - a neo-Nazi oligarchic republic under external control. At the same time, the Russian elite did not set itself the goal of integrating the post-Soviet space, but was looking for ways to satisfy its purely commercial interests, far from state ones.
Incentives for Post-Soviet Integration
For the revival of Russia and Russian civilization, the integration of the post-Soviet space in one form or another is necessary, but appropriate conditions must be created for this. The Ukrainian and Belarusian elites will have to realize that their states are limitrophes at the junction of two civilizations and cannot exist independently, they will always be under the control of either Russia or the West. They will have to rethink their status, moderate their ambitions and learn that no one except Russia will help them.
In the interests of integrating the three branches of the Russian people in Ukraine and Belarus, it is necessary to revive the Russian self-identification of the population with Ukrainian and Belarusian specifics and to form a pro-Russian counter-elite. We also need a state ideology of Russia's future that is attractive to all, emphasizing who we are and what we strive for.
The majority of the population of Belarus still has Russian identity, and the counter-elite, which can be formed on the basis of the remnants of the post-Soviet elite, will not be so difficult to convince them of the need for integration with Russia.
In Ukraine, the counter-elite, in principle, have nowhere to come from, everything is cleaned up there. It can be formed only on the territory of the Donbass republics and then integrate into Ukraine. Ukrainian society is not Belarusian, to a large extent it is infected with nationalism, there is a lot to be done there to return Russian identity. This is unlikely to be achieved without creating an attractive image of Russia's future.
The situation with the elite in Russia is not so simple, the population also expects from the authorities not empty promises, but concrete changes. The conserved liberal model, stretching back from the 90s, is a brake on development; without breaking it, it is impossible to reach a compromise and mutual understanding in society and with the outskirts. The Russian elite must acquire a different quality, without cleansing it of liberals who continue to parasitize on the body of the state, it is impossible to create an attractive image of Russia.
Instead of the purely financial sense of the development of society imposed by the liberals, aimed at integrating financial and bureaucratic structures, we need social and political ideas and meanings aimed at integrating countries and peoples. Only the advancement and implementation of new socio-political and economic models of the development of society, aimed at strengthening the state and increasing the well-being of the population, can stop the disintegration and degradation of the post-Soviet space.