Русская версия тут
Rumour of the West (read the US policy establishment) desiring the dismemberment of Russia has been circulating at least since the Soviet Union itself collapsed. Generally, this sort of things is firmly dismissed by Western most professional and most authoritative experts as yet another case of typical Russian paranoia, because, of course, the Russians are a bunch of very weird, deeply irrational people and they cannot help misreading and overreacting to everything that the always benevolent West does. In this light, the article published a few days ago in the US newspaper “The Hill”, was a revelatory moment, one of these moments that helps one to get rid of illusions and to understand the world as it really works.
The article bears the headline “Managing Russia’s dissolution”, and is authored by Janusz Bugajski, Senior Fellow at the Washington think-tank “Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA)”. Now the title of the article is not one of these typical journalistic exaggerations; the author is used to writing academically and he means every word he says: “Russia’s ongoing attacks on Ukraine and its persistent subversion of Western states demonstrates that Washington and Brussels have failed to restrain Moscow’s imperial ambitions. Engagement, criticism and limited sanctions have simply reinforced Kremlin perceptions that the West is weak and predictable. To curtail Moscow’s neo-imperialism a new strategy is needed, one that nourishes Russia’s decline and manages the international consequences of its dissolution”, the article begins.
“A new strategy is needed, one that nourishes Russia’s decline and manages the international consequences of its dissolution”
Ongoing attacks on Ukraine? Is the author referring to the November accident in the Azov Sea? Should the West work to foment the dismemberment of the whole of Russia because of a small sea confrontation, in which, luckily, nobody died, in disputed waters? Would the dismemberment of Russia be a proportioned reaction on the side of the West, according to the author? And what to make of the “persistent subversion of Western states”? Does the author really think that such a thing exists? How and why exactly is Russia persistently subverting Western states? What does he mean by subverting? Is he referring to Russia’s online propaganda efforts? Would “nourishing the decline” of Russia be an adequate reaction or would that be slightly out of proportion?
And what does the author think, how should Russia react and what should Russia prepare herself to after having learned of the recommendations by Senior Fellow at a very influential American think tank that actively participates in the formation of US foreign policy thinking? Wouldn’t it be very rational and very commensurate for Russia to prepare herself for the worst-case scenario, considering that the largest geopolitical force on the planet could be actively seeking her dissolution?
And it goes on: “Regions such as Sakha and Magadan in the far east, with their substantial mineral wealth, could be successful states without Moscow’s exploitation. Emerging states will benefit from forging closer economic and political contacts with neighboring countries rather than depending on Moscow, whose federal budget is drastically shrinking. Collapsing infrastructure means that residents of Siberia and Russia’s far east will become even more separated from the center, thus encouraging demands for secession and sovereignty. […] an assertive Western approach would be more effective than reactive defense. Washington needs to return to core principles that accompanied the collapse of the Soviet Union by supporting democratization, pluralism, minority rights, genuine federalism, decentralization and regional self-determination among Russia’s disparate regions and ethnic groups. […] Washington should promote regional and ethnic self-determination inside the Russian Federation”.
These are, for one thing, refreshingly candid words. There has been much talk and much ink has been spilled on the collapse of Russia proper ever since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, but rarely these theoretical considerations have been accompanied by the open and unequivocal incitements to support the process of dissolution of another sovereign country. This should all be a response to the new Russian “imperial” course that aims at dividing and destabilising Europe, like we have read many times. But wouldn’t it be a terrible simplification to blame Russia for the (relative) rise of far-right forces on the European continent and to what extent are these forces really supported by Russia and dependent on their support from Russia? The author certainly knows that it would be absurd and an offence to the intellect of many European citizens to state that the rise of the French Front National is to be explained solely by the support they might have received from Moscow, or that the recent (and to be honest, rather ephemeral) revival of the independence ambitions in Catalonia originated because of the “backing” these forces received Moscow. The author knows this, but he is probably too well versed in the art of policy shaping and framing to indulge in unnecessary sophisticated analysis: if you can blame Russia for your problems, then blame Russia, this appears to be one of the guiding maxims.
“Some regions could join countries such as Finland, Ukraine, China and Japan, from whom Moscow has forcefully appropriated territories in the past. Other republics in the North Caucasus, Middle Volga, Siberia and the far east could become fully independent states and forge relations with China, Japan, the U.S. and Europe”. After reading these things, why should Russia statesmen have any illusions when dealing with the US and other European Western countries (which, one might argue, do not appear to be so free in shaping their policy towards the rest of the world, after all, because for some reason they are always bound to be within the Transatlantic framework)? Here is a prominent voice coming from a prominent US think tank basically advocating for proactive measures to favour the dismemberment of another country, all because this is allegedly guilty of disinformation. The power of words! Would the scale of Russian “disinformation” justify these actions? And the Russians should be expected to just stand and watch? Wouldn’t it be wise, in light of these policy proposals circulating in Washington policy makers’ circles, for Russia to actually harden its “aggressive” posturing towards the West, and actually to increase its “disinformation” effort? What is with all talk about international law and territorial integrity? Does the US really treasure these principles, or does it feel it can use them at will to intervene anywhere it can, – just because it is mighty and it can use force?
“Some regions could join countries such as Finland, Ukraine, China and Japan, from whom Moscow has forcefully appropriated territories in the past. Other republics in the North Caucasus, Middle Volga, Siberia and the far east could become fully independent states”
One thing is clear: the Washington establishment has long been at war with Russia and will still probably be for many years to come. The US is still the most powerful actor on the geopolitical arena, it has the resources to hurt badly many other countries if it wants to and it thinks in long term horizons, or at least it acts and imagines itself as if it did. Russia needs to be mindful of this: the moment she starts to face struggle, the US will not show mercy. The sole existence of a country like Russia on the international arena appears to represent a threat for the US interests, even if Russia clearly is not nearly as powerful as it used to be and does not have the same level of geopolitical clout it had as the Soviet Union. As long as an uncomfortable country like Russia exists in its current shape, the US will regard it as an enemy and be at war with it.