- We didn’t make an unambiguous turn towards the East, I suppose it is not planned. I think that Russia is simply returning to the search for a more balanced policy - this was the case during the times of the Russian Empire and in the Soviet period. At the same time, no one has canceled the thrust to the West, it remains. In addition, it is necessary to reckon with reality: the West retains geopolitical leadership in the world. We are very closely associated with him for several reasons. Here - and the sale to him of our main export goods, oil and gas, and bilateral financial flows. On the other hand, the nineties and the beginning of the “zero” were marked by an unreasonable bias of both our foreign policy and the economy towards the West. For the last five to seven years, we have begun to level the balance, there is a return to a more natural, more rational and adequate positioning of Russia in foreign policy. Considering and recognizing the undoubted importance of the West, we began to realize that we would not live without an eastern direction. In the East - markets for our products, above all, weapons. In the region - the buyers of our raw materials. There, in particular in Central Asia, there are vital interests in protecting Russian priorities. The ongoing process today is not a turn to the East, but a difficult and gradual return to a more reasonable balance after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
- It is clear that waiting for fast results is ridiculous, the process of creating the eurozone, as you know, stretched from 1952, when the European Coal and Steel Community was formed, until 1992, when the European Union was created. One gets the impression that Moscow is in a hurry with integration - until Europe and the United States have begun to drive wedges into this process. Yes, in fact, they are already trying to put a speck in the wheel: more recently Hillary Clinton accused Russia of trying to “sovietize” the former republics of Central Asia, and the partnership we are building in the framework of the Customs and Eurasian Unions called the cover of our imperial aspirations. How much time does Russia have to build a strong partnership with the East and the post-Soviet states?
- The West began to drive wedges as soon as Russia began to rebuild or build economic ties with the former republics that had been destroyed in the post-Soviet years. One of the priorities - first of all, the Americans - was to prevent any reintegration into the territory of the former Soviet Union. Moreover, on the contrary, the West strongly stimulated the further disintegration of ties and separatism - in the nineties these efforts were completely obvious.
Many today do not know that the initial agreements on the formation of the Commonwealth of Independent States provided for the creation of a unified army and a single currency. You can pick up the documents and see, because now very few people remember about it: pity, people do not operate with real knowledge, but with the stamps offered to them by the media. But such plans were, apparently, Boris Yeltsin himself assumed that, having got rid of Mikhail Gorbachev, he would be able to keep a kind of Union within the framework of confederation, if not the federation. Therefore, in the “birth certificate of the CIS” they were preparing to write down the provisions on a single defense and foreign policy and a single currency.
Then, as I understand it, including under the harsh pressure of the West - first of all, Washington - all these intentions were unleashed on the brakes and quietly buried.
- Did Russia backward or the former Soviet republics?
- We retreated and they. We, because we did not dare to stand up for our own interests and so openly contradict the West. And the elites of the Union republics for the most part were crazy about the possibility of so unexpectedly gaining independence from Moscow. In each case, the West played its games, eventually forced everyone to abandon their original plans. As a result, we received the CIS, which is an incomprehensible education with amorphous goals and theses on the correctness of a “civilized divorce”. As is known, the idea of the Eurasian Union appeared in the early nineties, and it belongs to the President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev. Since then, she has been repeatedly approached from all sides, her "twirling" and so on and on. Moreover, who knows today that Ukraine in this union was offered the role of a financial and emission center? That is, Kiev should have begun to print and put into circulation the allied currency. But even then, including under pressure from the West, all these ideas were inhibited and buried.
What we see today is the minimal reintegration that has been hard-won for twenty years of conflict of opinions. And how much noise was about the creation of the Union State of Russia and Belarus! The process of its formation can be compared with the battle, where the enemy was the West. This whole whistle around Alexander Lukashenko, declaring him a dictator is evidence of this.
The West was initially opposed to any attempts to restore the lost economic ties of the former Soviet republics. The ongoing process of strengthening the Customs Union is also extremely unhappy, which no one hides.
If you look at what Kozma Prutkov advised at the root, it becomes clear: all the statements of the Russian opposition in the winter of 2011-2012, its demands to “reconsider” the results of the elections to the State Duma, and then the presidential elections, were also associated with integration projects. One of the goals, even if it was not declared, was to stop their development. If in our country it was possible to “stir up” some kind of “color revolution”, the unification projects in the post-Soviet space would collapse. I have every reason to talk about it.
By the way, at the same time with the performances of our opposition, unrest suddenly arose in the western part of Kazakhstan, at the same time the "disgruntled" came to the square in Minsk. That is, attempts to create an internal crisis were inspired precisely in those states that are sympathetic to the integration idea.
So let's look at what is happening with open eyes and draw sober conclusions. Are there disadvantages in our country? Are available. But there is a very large geopolitical game that interests the “big powers”. In fact, they are not at all interested in the agenda of our opposition and its ranting about whether the elections were fair or not. More precisely, it interests as one of the possible reasons for destabilization. But the goals are much more promising.
So the West will undoubtedly put a speck in the wheels of this project. Negative attitudes towards our integration initiatives are being actively introduced into the expert community of Europe and the USA. In the post-Soviet space, an active propaganda campaign is underway to discredit these ideas. They attack from different sides: some insist that all these are the intrigues of the Kremlin to rebuild the Soviet Union, others instill the economic disadvantage of integration ...
I have seen how this brainwashing occurs in Kazakhstan and in Belarus, with an unprecedented scale it goes to Ukraine. However, it is also present in Russia; traditional skeptics from the liberal camp are involved in this, assuring that integration is of no use to us. And the meaning of our life is to knock on the doors of the West and follow its instructions. Everything else does not make sense and is a waste of power, leading us away from the true essence of the “right process”. The essence of this - Western-style democracy, of course.
By the way, there are opponents of integration in the camp of opposition-minded ultranationalists. They have another project - to divide Russia into several "truly Russian" states. The fact that this may lead to the fragmentation and disappearance of the Russian ethnos itself, as well as to the struggle of the "truly Russian" states with each other, does not bother them. How, for example, it was in times of feudal fragmentation. I think that the West would be happy in the case of the implementation of such a scenario and, undoubtedly, would support such people. Of course, only for the sake of "democratic self-determination" of the Russian people. Indeed, in this case, as in the case of the liberal project, a dangerous competitor in the face of Russia and the Russians inevitably disappears from their “chessboard” and plunges into internal disassembly for a long time.
So we will not be easy, and, unfortunately, we do not have a particularly large amount of time. For the time being, integration projects are based on the will of three leaders: Vladimir Putin, Alexander Lukashenko and Nursultan Nazarbayev. At present, alas, integration projects have not captured the elites of all three countries enough to become truly national projects. So far, many of them do not share. The elites implement integration projects not so much from the real interests of their states, as by the will of the leaders. However, the low quality of the elites themselves, their unwillingness to build long-term strategies, unfortunately, contributes to this. In this case, I am talking not only about officials, but also about elites in the broad sense of the word. And in societies there is no agreement on these issues - as in Belarus, in Kazakhstan and Russia.
So, for example, if one of the three presidents, for example, deteriorates their mood, or one of them goes on a well-deserved rest, the fate of integration may be threatened. Unfortunately, since this is a leadership project, it is subject to a lot of risks. That is why the West was so interested in, say, “not letting” Vladimir Putin for another presidential term — it is he who in Russia today is the locomotive of integration projects. You can relate to the head of our state as you like, there are probably real reasons for complaining about him, but it is he who leads the unifying process. Therefore, the task is formulated as follows: to make integration a conscious necessity for the whole society.
We live in the 21st century, at a time when the challenges will be no less than in the past century. No one will leave Russia alone, there’s no point in hoping for that. Our choice is small. Either we stand in line at the entrance door of the West Pole - what the liberals have been offering us and what we, in fact, have been doing for twenty years, waiting for the permission to enter. Or we turn into marginals, become autarky - like North Korea, or scatter into smaller parts ... Or try to formulate our own project, roughly speaking, build our own future with our own hands. For this, we need partners, in the post-Soviet space this is, first of all, Belarus and Kazakhstan, preferably involving Ukraine. Although, as a last resort, the integration process can go without it. It is a pity, of course, but it is not only possible, but in fact is already happening. It is infinite to wait for Kiev, for many years imitating running on the spot towards Europe, does not make sense.
At the same time, we should not expand at any cost. No need to grow up to the borders of the former Soviet Union at any cost, regardless of costs. Because this project is subject to a variety of risks, including image risks. If we make serious mistakes now - the idea will be completely discredited in our three countries, and it may happen that another such chance история will not give us. Roughly speaking, we will pick up some dubious partners in our company who need to be fed and watered and who have either revolutions or civil wars every year. They will become a burden for us - the same weight on our feet as a number of Eastern European countries for the EU. After all, there, due to several weak "allies", the whole Euroconception is actually bursting at the seams. If the single currency collapses, then the EU will face a serious conceptual crisis.
We need to be careful to avoid these risks. On the one hand, we have liberals who oppose any kind of integration, on the other hand, hurray-patriots, who believe that it is necessary to restore the USSR at any cost, even at the expense of Russia. If only we formally grew to the borders that existed in Soviet times. This approach is also destructive. I believe that we do not need either. We need a median, verified path of compromise. We do not need a process for the sake of a process or the achievement of a goal at any cost.
- In continuation of what you said: recently, several analytical articles have appeared in the press of Armenia on whether the future Eurasian Union should be considered a kind of “USSR – 2”. The main thing in these materials is undisguised concerns about the “plans of Moscow” to crush the independent states and the unwillingness to be a “periphery”. Is it phantom fears or real? We have managed to dispel the concerns of integration partners - present and future - that the creation of the Eurasian Union will not mean a return to the “center-margin” system?
- To dispel such fears is difficult. After all, the last twenty years we ourselves have been moving in this paradigm: we zealously discuss the topic “The Soviet Union and the present day”. As if the story began in 1917, or ended in 1991. But with all my sympathy for the Soviet past, world history began its countdown not with the Aurora shot, including the history of Russia. And not with the collapse of the USSR its last page was written. The Soviet Union itself is no more, and in this form it will never be again for a number of very good reasons.
The discussion that we ourselves reproduce is destructive. She is sure thrown to us from the outside. The task was to make us constantly ask ourselves: is this the Soviet Union or not? How was the Soviet Union and how today? And the discussion goes both with a minus sign, and with a plus sign. But the situation is different now, the challenges facing us have changed, as well as the prospects. No, we are being offered to "flounder" in comparisons of the past with the present. We need to look to the future - and we, unfortunately, support this discussion, imposed on us from outside.
So it was not possible to completely dispel concerns. But the part of the elites that looks into a strategic future, for example, the same Nursultan Nazarbayev, understands that we have gone beyond the Soviet-non-Soviet paradigm. Realizes that the situation of this century will be quite complicated, and it is better to stick together, it is the lesser of all evils. Both in terms of economics and geopolitical. Not everyone will be able to survive on their own.
But we will have a long time to work on avoiding comparisons with the Soviet period. So far, in some cases, the opponents outplay us. Armenia suffers from a classic case of post-Soviet illness. It can not exist without Russia. The volumes of our help to her are enormous, they are crucial for her. More Armenians live in our country than in Armenia itself, and the flow of “arrivals” is constantly growing.
With all this, the Armenian elite - especially in recent years - has stubbornly sought the West, a disease that is afflicted in many former Soviet republics. However, the people of the country simply cannot live without rapprochement with Russia. Here it is, frankly parasitic position, which is observed in various post-Soviet states. In Armenia, the West is very active, and the country's elite - unfortunately - is more and more focused on its projects. Although they have not yet given the country anything - nothing at all. Well, propaganda campaigns in the Armenian press are tied, among other things, to the upcoming presidential elections in the spring. So the discussion on the topic “Who to be with?” Has escalated today, the pro-Western Armenian media working for money coming directly “from there” has intensified. The Americans are acting extremely energetically there, assuring the elite that Washington will convince Ankara to open borders for Yerevan, after which the need for Russia will disappear by itself. The game is nothing more.
The United States has set itself the task of maximum: to reject Transcaucasia from Russian influence. With Georgia, they have “resolved the issue” by provoking a war in 2008. With Azerbaijan, the problem is solved by implementing oil and gas projects, and Armenia is next in line. However, the same diagnosis — the country is not capable of living without close ties with Russia, and the elite looking to the West — is typical of most post-Soviet states.
- I will clarify: so far we are talking about the activities of the Eurasian Economic Community. But now Moscow is raising the issue of creating a Eurasian Economic Union, and, according to our plans, an agreement on its creation can be signed by January 1, 2015. Only now, while Russia has not yet rebuilt a clear interaction at the level of the existing structure, the natural question arises: are we not taking long strides?
- It is necessary to take into account the situation of time trouble, exacerbated by the pressure of the West on the post-Soviet states. But it is also not necessary to “pressure” especially and force integration processes. Recent Russian initiatives to create a Eurasian Economic Union were cautiously met by the same Kazakhs - who attribute to themselves the authorship of the idea.
But even they admit: the movement towards the creation of certain supranational bodies is quite logical. Moscow proposes to create a union parliament - Astana refuses, arguing that so far we have not grown to a general legislative body. Maybe, in some ways, the Kazakhs are right in proposing to form an inter-parliamentary assembly: it will unite deputies of several states, and the issues that they will discuss will be the subject of common competence. Moving forward in the “allied direction” Kazakhstan, therefore, recognizes. Only not so fast, which would be seen in Moscow. This means that a compromise should be sought; there is no black and white in this situation. The main thing, I repeat, is to do everything to not discredit the idea. At the first failure, there is a great multitude of people who want to say: “You were convinced that nothing will come of it, and you shouldn’t have to do it. Here we are! Don't try anymore. ” We need to move carefully, without annoying each other and without harming anyone’s interests.
- The United States clearly defined its foreign policy vector: East. The newly elected President Barack Obama made his first visit precisely in Asia. There are Washington’s military-strategic interests, a huge market for American products, and the opportunity to attract investment capital to support its economy. The President completed the November tour in Cambodia, where the East Asian Summit took place. In addition to 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Barack Obama, the prime ministers of China, India and Japan, took part in it. Russia was represented by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. “Russia joined the East Asian Summit at the same time as the United States, but for the second year in a row, top-level Russian leaders are not participating in the summit,” the ASEAN Secretary General said. Do not have time, or can not we completely "decide"?
- I don’t know why it was decided to send Sergey Lavrov to the summit, and not a politician of a higher rank. I think that there are simply not enough resources, let's honestly admit that we are not capable of being equal to the Americans. Many people do not like it, but I repeat: to be with them all over the globe, as it once was, we cannot today. The United States is working to implement its global geopolitical project, they have extended their interests to the whole world, and there is no country where they would not seek their own benefit.
However, I do not exclude that after some time Washington will stumble on this project - although, perhaps, we will not see this anymore. But the United States may well overdo it, even now there are signs indicating their "fatigue." In the nineties, a kind of historical pause was formed, and for about ten years, the Americans dominated almost completely.
“They will break, in the sense that the structures created by Washington will begin to crumble, right?”
- Of course. It is not excluded that the dollar economy will not endure and collapse, the financial schemes created by the Americans will collapse - after all, it is clear that their global economic strength is based on the dollar, as the world reserve currency. If he staggered, I assure you, the United States will start having problems with ensuring its ambitious foreign policy projects. And this can happen, some Indian and Chinese analysts told me that they spend a maximum of ten to fifteen years on a dollar-based system.
What Washington will do next - no one knows. Back in the nineties, many of us were literally fascinated by the European Union. Today he has a lot of problems that he does not know how to solve. So after all, by the standards of history nothing has passed! One moment.
Therefore, we do not need to follow the Khrushchev model, to prove that we are absolutely not worse in everything, but better. Let's live with your mind and go about your business. Unfortunately, or fortunately for us, who both thinks is not financially capable of supporting a project of this magnitude, this toy is very expensive, and we are no longer the Soviet Union. In addition, it should be understood for what you are doing it. Yes, and we have no ideological base for a global project: really, and what do we want to export? Americans understand that they are driving abroad, all this is packaged in the term “democracy”, Russia has no such understanding in terms of worldview. Maybe sometime it will be, but not today. I am absolutely sure that the communist idea, on which many Soviet patriots are nostalgic, is not able to unite the peoples of the former Soviet Union again - life has changed very seriously and conceptually. This ideology simply does not provide adequate responses to modern challenges. Many simply do not want to see it. I understand their emotions, but they do not have a sober analysis. It’s ridiculous to continue the whole world to divide into "bourgeois" and "proletariat". Maybe this was true for the end of the XIX - beginning of the XX century. And then not sure. But now it just does not reflect reality.
This is about the same simplification of reality as the Western concept of the entire world political process, which reduces it to the eternal struggle of "true democracy and freedom" with "authoritarianism and despotism." Approximately as our liberals, just that, begin to translate the arrows of any discussion on the figure of Stalin and the "horrors of Stalinism."
So today we don’t have any sense, as they say, to jump out of our pants, we have a fairly large country, requiring attention to solving our problems, and our closest circle, with whom we need to establish normal relations.
- There are two reasons why we would like to turn to the East. The first, political, once at a meeting of the “Valdai Club” was named by Vladimir Putin, who said that China behaves tactfully and respectfully, and the West is not considered to be with anyone. The second, economic, is obvious: our main trading partner, Europe, is suffering from a debt crisis. If Europeans suddenly reduce their mentality in relations with Moscow, and Washington - suddenly ... - go towards Russia on the issue of deploying missile defense systems in the Old World, we will make a turn of 180 degrees? And - facing the West?
- Full turn to the West will not be. Even with some hypothetical very good attitude of the Old World and the United States to Russia. In the late eighties - early nineties, we already completely trusted the West, our doors were wide open, even removed from the hinges. We threw our own country at their feet. They did everything they wanted and more. Themselves without anesthesia amputated arms and legs! And what did we get? Nothing. The West took from us everything that was badly laid, and explained that we, as losers, should know our place. You were defeated in the “cold war”, so you do not have the right to lean out, everything else is none of your damn business! How we can help - so it is predatory loans at huge interest rates, and we can also debug schemes for the export of your capital and raw materials.
Here it is, all the help the West has provided to Russia. There is nothing to object to even the home-grown liberals, unless they are accepted to mumble about the fact that "we were taught the lesson of democracy." We needed investments and technologies, and what the Americans called "democracy" they could keep in a certain part of the body ...
- It is your opinion. And the power came to some conclusions?
“Let us imagine that the West is beginning to meditate against Moscow — although I cannot allow this, the experience of the past two decades has made me realist. So what? Even many of those who once were fascinated by him, made conclusions. And there will be no such undivided trust in him and orientation to him. We will not turn on his command - and the West itself is not able to turn around to us. A lot of money is spent on expert research there, but the West has its own congenital defects, many of which it is not capable of overcoming, therefore, in many respects, it inadequately assesses the situation in Russia and around it. Many fears have remained there since the days of the cold war and continue to be cultivated. Among other things, Western civilization is inherently absolutely cynical, it has never given anyone “for so” anything. Moreover, in the eighties and nineties, alternative centers of influence grew stronger and stronger, China, India, Brazil, South Africa — the world situation changed radically. The Muslim project is very active, I will add. So we will not suffer an unequivocal and undivided love for the West, which dominated in the nineties, under any circumstances.
Interview conducted by Viktor Gribachev