Russia and the Tartar world
1) No other country has felt the impact of the end of the Cold War as Russia has. All its boundaries have been redrawn. It has been a case of "quick come, quick go". This has been the price for losing the Cold War.
2) All Russia's borders have been contested, from the Baltic countries in the north-west, right through Central Europe, to the Balkans, Ukraine, and the Caucasus, and by the Turkic-speaking countries of Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan). The power vacuum is being filled by Europe (along the western borders) and by the USA (along the southern borders).
3) For four centuries the Russian State expanded, without ever reaching its goal, access to warm waters.
a) In the fifteenth century the Russian State was just a little region surrounding Moscow.
b) By the mid-eighteenth century it had expanded northwards to the Kola Peninsula.
c) Then between 1790 and 1914 came the big move eastwards.
d) Now the country is experiencing a return to its pre-nineteenth-century borders in the south.
4) Modern history has taught us that you need an ideology to win the heart of a people and rule them.
a) For the French under Napoleon it was "liberty, equality, and fraternity"
b) for the Soviets it was "equality"
c) for the USA it is "freedom and the pursuit of happiness" (the right to stay rich).
5) Disintegration started with the Baltic States' demands for independence.
a) It continued with the Ukraine in the south
b) then the peoples of the Caucasus followed
c) and now the process is continuing in the vast Islamic region between the Caspian and China. All that remains are the wide steppes, which were largely unpopulated before the Great Russian expansion.
6) "Without Ukraine, Russia ceases to be a Eurasian empire" (Brzezinski 1997: 46). We would have liked to meddle in the affairs of White Russia (Belarus) too, but Lukashenko is blocking the doorway, literally.
7) Russia - the largest country in the world, more than twice the size of the second-largest - has no natural frontiers. It has an ocean that is icebound for most of the year, a climate without much variation, and poor, badly-watered soil.
8) Russia probably has one of the most adverse geographical situations of any country relative to its size, being composed of vast areas of difficult, infertile land, lacking direct year-round access to any ocean, and being surrounded by enemies. This Slavonic tribe has not had an easy journey from the Ukrainian steppes where they originated, to their current situation largely spread out thinly along the Trans-Siberian railway to Vladivostok, via Omsk, Novosibirsk, Irkutsk, and Khabarovsk.
9) From a geographical perspective Russia is related more closely to Asia than to Europe. Yet at the same time the cultural gap between Russia and China is an abyss.
10) Russia has always been a political mess.
a) They first sought the help of the "Rus"167 (Swedish Vikings) to govern their own people in the tenth century,
b) then later were threatened by various Mongol tribes;
c) Mongols came to rule them with an iron fist for three centuries.
d) They were then governed in an atmosphere of terror by the Czars
e) and were seduced into believing in the European monarchical way of life,
f) only to end up as a test bed for Communist theories - our theories, not theirs.
It does not take a psychologist to understand that these events have imprinted violent traumas on the Russian character.
11) In Russia there has never been any notion of rule by or for the people, only master-servant relationships, in the past and now. You serve someone, or you will not survive.
12) Average life expectancy for men in Russia has reduced by five years since the Cold War. Democracy is still not the order of the day. Two things have priority: security and bread. They also need something to believe in, so the Christian catechism has been obligatory in schools since 1992.
13) Western Europe is flooded with a nihilist Russian mafia. For these people there are no values, no right or wrong. "To meet them with our own laws and values is a waste of time." For these, as for the Albanian mafia and certain other criminal groups, there must be special rules, or they will continue to flourish.
14) Most of the Russian elite emigrated to the USA and other Western countries immediately after the Cold War. Their second-rank scientists have found jobs in other countries around the world, e.g. in South America. The brain drain has been almost total, even though a few who have succeeded abroad are now returning home, wanting for instance to recreate that pre-Communist idyll of life in a dacha for their children. Russia has an important diaspora, but does not know how to use it.
15) The Americans, on the other hand, have once again shown that they are masters at attracting the best brains. But then, they need to be, since they have been incapable of producing a sufficient number of their own scientists to retain superpower status. (Harvard is the best university in the world because it has the most money and knows how to use it. Stanford and Berkeley are populated largely by Asian students with excellent marks.)
16) Russia has finally acquired its "dear father", without whom, history has shown, they are lost. A decade of chaos is coming to an end.
17) Once again we have seen that the Russian elite is military. A leader from the private sector would have cost the country more blood. Medvedev is a puppet, a trick for the media: the civilian face. Putin would have liked to remove him if he could, but needed to create an image of a democratic, modern Russia.
18) The reform process which Russia has undergone has been like an operation without anesthetic.
19) The Russians themselves had the courage to eliminate Communism, a political ideology which came from the West, created by a German and implemented in Russia with German help, supported by a non-Russian minority. The German aim was to destroy Tsarist Russia; the aim of the Bolsheviks was to sue for peace. But the German strategists had underestimated the danger of internationalizing Communism, which soon led to a coup attempt in Berlin.
20) According to Hermann Rauschning's biography (1939), Hitler was well aware how far his own movement was a parallel to Russian Bolshevism. They were both mob-led rebellions against conservative, non-ideological rule.
21) A number of the people who initiated the Russian Revolution were Russian inmates of German prisoner-of-war camps, liberated by the German government so that they could attack their own country. Ludendorff instructed the Prussian officer Walter Nicolai to facilitate the operation.169 There was no real "revolution" in the French sense; it was a halfhearted coup d'etat. Hardly any shots were fired; all that was necessary was to occupy a few post offices and block some roads. Afterwards, whatever Lenin said went.
22) No revolution has happened spontaneously. We know this from Cuba and China also.
23) There used to be three great intellectual centres where Communist ideals inspired leaders from all over the world, all found in Europe: Paris, where Messali Hadj of Algeria, Pol Pot, Zhou Enlai, and Deng Xiaoping studied, Oxford, where Nehru studied and Cambridge which produced some of the best communist spies in history.
24) The history of the Soviet Union was the history of the largest planned social experiment in human history (cf. Dedijer 1989a: 6). You always need an ideology to rule, whether political or religious- preferably it should be both.
25) The Communist experiment in the Soviet Union cost the lives of more than sixty million people. In some parts of its territory, such as Kazakhstan, the population remains lower today than it was in 1913. This seventy-year political and social experiment was a historical catastrophe. Lenin and Stalin between them killed more people than Hitler. The Soviet and Nazi regimes were of the same nature, totalitarian, which means that they demanded absolute submission from their subjects. . Some argue that Stalin had converted de facto to Fascism by the late 1930s, out of disillusion with the industrial performance of his MarxistLeninist society.
26) Stalin was Asian, not European. He said so himself. That meant that he did not mind the brutality. Officially Stalin claimed that his idol was Lenin. In reality it was probably Genghis Khan. We know that Stalin read everything he could find about the Mongol warrior.
27) Stalin, known for his inability to speak in public, his self-centeredness, his need for admiration, and his excessive use of violence, killed or imprisoned everyone he so much as suspected of having ideas diverging from his own, even if they belonged to the inner circle or to his own family. If he died alone, that was because there was no-one left around him. They were all abandoned, deported (imprisoned) or killed.
28) Russia passed from one demagogue to another. After the fall of Communism, Marx yielded to IMF/ US interests and Wild West market liberalism, resulting in a system of nepotism, corruption, and mafia capitalism. The new kleptocratic state was orchestrated by American economic experts, many from leading US institutions. All that changed when Putin took over.
29) Russia is ungovernable. It is vast, the population is large, and they have lots of time on their hands. There is no real urbanism.
30) Russia always has a religious mission.
31) Russia remains turned towards the West, even though its most Westernized period now lies behind it.
32) In Russia fear replaces and paralyses thought.
33) The European solution is to win back the European part of the former Eastern Bloc. To co-operate, but not to integrate it. That is the lesson learned after two failed attempts to annexe Russia, by Napoleon and by Hitler.
34) Russia is setting out to become an empire again. The Red Army is being built back up. Fortunately for us, they do not have the means to compete with the armies of the USA and NATO. To develop a European army that could stand its ground against Russia will take another decade yet, or longer.
35) A bureaucratic system cannot be reformed from outside once it has reached a critical mass. The Soviet Union was destroyed from within. It was an implosion which key Party members accelerated. In the 1980s several Communist countries began transferring money to the West, to Swiss bank accounts, in order to undermine their own regime. It was the only way; political systems like these are non-reformable.
36) It was no surprise to the Soviets that their political system did not work. Their problem was that they could not change it. In 1975, Soviet analysts saw that they were falling behind. From 1972 onwards, the Soviet Union could only survive on oil and borrowed time. This is even true today, during the time Putin has been in power oil prices have increased many folds
37) Moscow has a profound sense of being the bulwark of Christianity. They see themselves as the third religious centre in Europe: Rome, Byzantium, and the Russo-Tartar (Russian Orthodox Church).
38) People of five different cultures are now heading in their separate directions:
Figure 12: Soviet ethnic diversity
39) The Russian geopolitician Alexander Dugin (Dougine 1997) dreams of Panslavism, opposed to the values of the West, which he sees as decadent. Vladimir Zhirinovsky goes even further, seeking a Grand Bargain with Germany, giving it Kaliningrad, Silesia, and all the areas claimed by the nineteenth-century Pan-Germanic League, in return for the Baltic States, Moldavia, White Russia, and a large part of the Ukraine (cf. Romer 1999). Tallinn and Kaunas would become free cities.
40) There are two kinds of Russian leader: those who face Europe, and those who face inwards. Among the first are Peter the Great, Gorbachev, and Putin. Among the second were Catherine the Great, Stalin, and Yeltsin. - And there is always a key administrator in the middle, like Andropov.
41) Gorbachev may be feted in the Western world as a great hero, but in Russia he is a traitor who sold out the Russian Empire. He himself has told us (in a 2011 Der Spiegel interview) that he was given the presidency largely thanks to a half-hour conversation with Gromyko in the corridor just before an important Politburo meeting.
42) Political power in Russia is passed down to friends. Stalin, together with Trotsky, were Lenin's favorite killers. Gorbachev was a protege of Brezhnev's; Khrushchev was Stalin's favourite killer. Putin became a favorite of Yeltsin's daughter and son-in-law largely by chance. It was they who decided it was time for her father to resign. Yeltsin had handed control of Russia over to the couple de facto because of his alcohol problem.
43) When Putin was selected as the new Head of State he was out of a job, looking for new opportunities, really for anything at all. He had been dismissed by the mayor of St Petersburg (his home town), and decided to try his luck in Moscow.
44) Once Putin was in power, which must have come as a surprise even to him, he took up the fight against the corrupt and privileged businessmen surrounding Yeltsin, the oligarchs. These were young, bright, and rich men, mostly of Jewish origin, who at the time when the Soviet Union came close to collapse had been allowed to buy its most valuable chunks of industry for next to nothing. Putin then put his own friends from the former KGB into the leading positions.
45) Putin respects the Germans more than any other people, and both his daughters speak fluent German. The former German federal chancellor Gerhard Schroeder is on the board of the North European Gas Pipeline Company (NEGPC), responsible for the new gas pipeline from Russia under the Baltic Sea to Germany.
It is 51 per cent owned by Gazprom, Russia's largest oil and gas company. Ruhrgas is a board member of Gazprom.
46) In the 1980s Putin met the Stasi agent Matthias Warnig (code name "Arthur") in Dresden. Warnig was working for Abteilung XV in its Science and Technology department, which had the main responsibility for industrial espionage in the West. After the Cold War, Warnig opened a branch of the Dresdner Bank in St Petersburg, where Putin was vice-mayor. After Putin was elected president, Warnig handled all Gazprom's export business. Warnig's Dresdner Kleinwort Finanzinstitut also handled the $13.1bn sale of Sibneft (owned by Roman Abramovich) to Gazprom. Warning is now chief executive of Nord Stream, a consortium for construction and operation of the Nord Stream submarine pipeline from Vyborg in Russia to Greifswald in Germany, and he is credited with having recruited former chancellor Schroeder to the company board.
47) Putin is essentially just buying back what his predecessors carelessly gave away. According to the newspaper Kommersant (26 February 2007), Putin has given another KGB friend, Gennadi Timchenko, the handling of at least a quarter of the company's overseas oil dealings through his Geneva-registered company. This former KGB officer's wealth has risen from a hundred million to twenty-five billion dollars in just five years. Timchenko is also involved with Russia's long-term ambition to gain gradual control of Estonia's economic interests, through companies like the Russian deep-water freight company Severstaltrans.
48) Only two of the ten leading people around Putin are not ex-KGB, namely Dmitri Medvedev and Yuri Kovalchuk. Timchenko and Kovalchuk used to be responsible for the Kremlin's "black accounts" in Switzerland in the old days.