Chapter 2 - What are “Russian national interests”?
2.1 Russians today have no State
In the current political situation, it is impossible, strictly speaking, to discuss the “strategic prospects of Russia”. Moreover, it is impossible to propose any projects regarding Russia's foreign and domestic policy, since the main question is what is Russia today? It remains not only unsolved, but also not taken seriously.
The rapid changes in the entire political, geopolitical, ideological and social order that occurred in the former USSR completely overturned all existing legal and political criteria and norms. The collapse of the unified socialist system and later of the Soviet state created a field of complete uncertainty in the former Soviet territories, in which there are no more clear guidelines, no strict legal framework, nor specific social prospects. Those geopolitical structures that were formed "automatically", by inertia after the collapse of the USSR, are random, transient and extremely unstable. This applies not only to the republics that separated from Moscow, but, first of all, to Russia itself.
In order to make plans regarding the “interests of the state”, it is necessary to have a clear idea of which state is in question. In other words, this makes sense if there is a clearly identified political subject. In the present situation, such a subject in Russian no .
The existence of Russia, understood as the Russian Federation (RF), clearly does not satisfy any serious criteria in determining the status of a "state." The scatter in assessments of the status of the Russian Federation in international politics clearly testifies to this state of affairs. What is the Russian Federation? Heir and successor of the USSR? Regional power? Mono-national state? Interethnic Federation? The gendarme of Eurasia? A pawn in American projects? Areas intended for further fragmentation? Depending on the specific conditions, the Russian Federation plays one of these roles, despite the absolute inconsistency of such definitions. At some point this is a state with a claim to a special role in world politics, at another it is a secondary regional power, in the third field for separatist experiments.If the same territorial and political entity acts simultaneously in all these roles, it is obvious that we are talking about some conditional category, some kind of variable, and not about that complete and stable political phenomenon that can be called a state in full sense of the word.
The Russian Federation is not Russia, a full-fledged Russian State. This is a transitional formation in a broad and dynamic global geopolitical process and nothing more. Of course, the Russian Federation may in the future become the Russian State, but it is not at all obvious that this will happen, and it is also not obvious whether this should be sought.
Be that as it may, it is impossible to talk about the "strategic interests" of such an unstable and temporary phenomenon as the Russian Federation in the long run, and all the more ridiculous to try to formulate a "strategic doctrine of the Russian Federation" based on the current state of affairs. The “strategic interests of the Russian Federation” can be clarified only after the political, social, economic, and ideological subject of these interests appears, develops, and develops. So far this has not happened, any projects in this direction will be a momentary fiction.
The Russian Federation does not have a state history, its borders are random, its cultural landmarks are vague, its political regime is shaky and vague, its ethnic map is heterogeneous, and its economic structure is fragmented and partially decomposed. This conglomerate is only the result of the collapse of a more global geopolitical entity, a fragment taken out of the whole picture. Even in order to create something stable on this skeleton of the Empire, a real revolution is needed, similar to the revolution of the Young Turks, who created modern secular Turkey from a fragment of the Ottoman Empire (although the question again arises here: is it worth it to strive for?).
If the Russian Federation is not the Russian State, then the CIS is not such. Despite the fact that almost all the territories of the CIS countries (with rare exceptions) were part of the Russian Empire and, therefore, were once part of the Russian State, today the CIS countries have a sufficient degree of autonomy and are de jure considered independent political entities. With regard to these countries, one can affirm (and with even greater reason) the same as with respect to the Russian Federation these entities do not have any serious signs of true statehood, are devoid of attributes of actual sovereignty and are more a “territorial process” than stable and certain geopolitical units. Even if we ignore the growing nationalism of the CIS countries, which is often anti-Russian, out of unnatural,unstable and contradictory fragments per se, it is not possible to add a harmonious picture. The Belgian geopolitician Jean Tiriar gave one exact comparison about this. "The USSR was like a bar of chocolate, with the boundaries of the lobes-republics marked. After the slices are broken off, it is no longer enough to put them together to restore the entire tile. From now on, this can only be achieved by remelting the entire tile and stamping again . "
"Strategic interests of the Russian Federation" is the same empty figure of speech as "strategic interests of the CIS countries." This has a very indirect relation to the "strategic interests of the Russians."
2.2 The concept of "post-imperial legitimacy"
Despite the non-existence of the Russian State in the full sense, certain legal principles operate throughout the post-Soviet space, on which both the Western reaction to certain actions of the Russian Federation and the momentary logic of the steps of the Russian leadership are based. These principles, at first glance, keep the Russian Federation and, more broadly, the CIS from total chaos. It is a doctrine of "post-imperial legitimacy." In order to understand the essence of today's geopolitical processes in Eurasia, it is necessary to briefly outline the main theses of this concept.
"Post-imperial legitimacy" is a set of legal norms that are closely related to the immediately preceding phase of the political development of the region, i.e. with "imperial legitimacy" ("legacy of empire"). An empire (at least “secular” liberal or socialist) is most often guided by the territorial structure of its colonies with purely administrative and economic characteristics, without taking into account either ethnic, religious, or national factors. The administrative borders within the Empire are rather arbitrary, since they obviously represent conditional barriers created only for the convenience of centralized control of the metropolis. The empire during its existence forces the rest of the powers to recognize its internal administrative system as legitimate.But with the collapse of the Empire, "zones of legal uncertainty" always arise, since the structure that legally regulated the status of its constituent parts ceases to exist.
In the process of "postcolonial" transformations, an international legal concept was formulated, which laid the foundation for the classification of the legitimacy and incompetence of post-imperial territorial-political entities. This is the concept of "post-imperial legitimacy." Its meaning boils down to the fact that despite the absence of the Empire as a whole, its purely administrative components receive a full legal status, regardless of whether this entity meets the criterion of a full-fledged state or not. This approach is based on a secular liberal idea regarding the arbitrariness of any state formation as a historical randomness. According to this logic, ethnic, religious, cultural and social components are insignificant and insignificant,since the population is understood here as a simple set of economic and statistical units. This is reflected in the inertia of the "imperial", "colonial" approach, which is accustomed to considering the "colonies" and "provinces" as something secondary and inconsequential, "additional" in the context of the general context.
As a rule, "post-imperial formations" never (or almost never) become full-fledged states and continue to exist as economic and political appendages of the former (or new) metropolis. Almost always, the ruling elite in them is the direct successor (often a protege) of the colonial administration, the economy depends entirely on external factors, and the political and social structure adapts to the model of the former center. The preservation of such "post-imperial legitimacy" often leads to the fact that the same autochthonous ethnic group inhabits the territories of different post-imperial states, and several ethnic and religious groups live in the same state.In fact, the relative balance of interests is maintained in such cases only by appeal to an external factor, most often to the sheer or hidden power of the former metropolis (or the developed state that can replace it). It is very significant that at the last stages of the "liberation" of Africa, the Pan-African Congress decided to apply the principle of "post-imperial legitimacy" in all newly formed states, although many large African peoples in particular, Bantu, Zulus, etc. turned out to live immediately in two or three states. This was done under the pretext of avoiding ethnic, tribal and religious wars. In fact, it was about the desire of the leaders of the post-imperial administration to keep their artificial elites in power,not allowing the creation of new representatives of an organic national hierarchy in the process of national upsurge. Given the strategic and socio-economic backwardness of Africa and the lack of fresh and vibrant state traditions, this approach has worked quite successfully.
The principle of "post-imperial legitimacy" is also applied today to countries that arose on the ruins of the USSR. In the former "union republics" almost everywhere in power are the heirs of the "colonial administration", compartments broken into parts of a single administrative structure, which was formed entirely in the imperial Soviet context. This elite is alienated from the national cultural traditions of its peoples and is oriented by inertia to the preservation of economic and political dependence on the metropolis. The only exception is Armenia, where the logic of "post-imperial legitimacy" has been violated (in the case of Nagorno-Karabakh), and where, accordingly, purely national political forces have more weight than in all other CIS countries. In addition, Armenia is the only mono-ethnic republic from the CIS countries.
At first glance, it may seem that the principle of "post-imperial legitimacy" plays into the hands of the Russian Federation and Moscow, as it creates the prerequisites for maintaining the influence of the Russian Federation in the "near abroad" and simplifies political and economic relations with geographical neighbors. But in reality, everything is somewhat more complicated. As in the case of "decolonization" of the Third World countries, the collapse of the Empire weakens the geopolitical power of the metropolis, and part of the colonies and dominions come under the implicit control of another, more powerful power, which uses the system of "post-imperial legitimacy" for its own purposes. A vivid example of this is the United States, which in fact seized under its influence most of the former British, Spanish, Portuguese, French and Dutch colonies during the process of "decolonization". Thus,the post-Soviet "colonial administration" in the CIS countries can be replaced (and will come) by another "colonial administration" that uses existing artificial structures for its own purposes.
On the other hand, the “post-imperial legitimacy” of the Russian Federation itself is put on a par with other CIS countries, since in this case the national-cultural, religious and ethnic interests of the Russian people are completely ignored, falling under the abstract norms of "post-imperial", purely administrative law and scattered around alien pseudo-state and quasi-national entities. The remains of the imperial administration within the framework of the Russian Federation (the party-bureaucratic apparatus) turn out to be just as alien to the Russian national context as in other republics, since the system of the Empire itself was built on other, purely administrative and economic, rather than national and cultural principles. The Russians, having "freed" from the republics, do not gain freedom and independence, but lose a significant part of their national community, maintain a dependent position on the remnants of the previous nomenclature and, in addition, are exposed to a new danger to fall under the influence of external political forces of more powerful powers.This last danger was not so close during the period of the Empire, but as a simple "regional power" the Russian Federation is fully exposed to it.
All these considerations cast doubt on the usefulness under the current conditions of the principle of "post-imperial legitimacy," since this largely contradicts Russian national interests.
But what criteria should be followed in determining what are “Russian national interests”? Who should be taken as the main subject in relation to whom it would be possible to determine what is profitable and what is unprofitable? In which categories should Russia be understood today ?
2.3 Russian people center of geopolitical concept
The collapse of the Soviet Empire, the fragility and state failure of new political entities on its territory (including the Russian Federation) compel us to search for a more specific category for understanding “Russian national interests”. Only the Russian people can be the only organic, natural, historically rooted reality in this matter .
The Russian people is a historical community that has all the signs of a full-fledged and stable political subject. The Russian people are united ethnically, culturally, psychologically and religiously. But not only this is the main reason for putting it at the center of the geopolitical concept as a subject of political and social strategy. The Russian people, unlike many other peoples, has developed as the bearer of a special civilization , which has all the distinctive features of an original and full-fledged planetary-historical phenomenon. The Russian people is the civilizational constant that served as the axis in the creation of not one but many states: from mosaics of Eastern Slavic principalities to Muscovite Russia, the Petrine Empire and the Soviet bloc. Moreover, this constant determined the continuity and connection between entities that are so politically, socially, territorially and structurally different. The Russian people did not just provide an ethnic base for all these state formations, they expressed in them a special civilizational idea , unlike any other. Not the state formed the Russian nation. On the contrary, the Russian nation, the Russian people experimented in history with various types of state systems, expressing differently (depending on circumstances) the specifics of their unique mission.
The Russian people are certainly among the messianic peoples. And like any Messianic people, it has a universal, universal significance that competes not just with other national ideas, but with types of other forms of civilizational universalism. K. Leontiev and Russian Eurasians quite fully developed this idea.
Regardless of the troubles, transitional periods, and political cataclysms, the Russian people always maintained their messianic identity, and therefore, always remained the political subject of history. After another state shock, the same ancient and powerful Russian force created new political structures, clothed its spiritual impulse into new geopolitical forms. Moreover, as soon as state structures developed to a critical point, beyond which the final loss of the connection of the political form with the national content snapped, crises and catastrophes ensued, after which a new geopolitical and social construction began, investing the civilization mission of the Russian people in new images and political designs.
And in the current transition period, it is the Russian people that should be taken as the main political entity, from which the scale of geopolitical and strategic, as well as socioeconomic interests of Russia should be put off. The Russian people today are Russia , but not as a clearly defined state, but as a geopolitical potentiality, real and concrete on the one hand, but not yet defining its new state structure, either its ideology, its territorial limits, or its socio-political structure .
Nevertheless, the "potential Russia" today has much more fixed characteristics than the ephemeral RF or CIS. These characteristics are directly related to the civilizational mission, the implementation of which is the meaning of the life of the Russian people.
First, the Russian people (= Russia) are, without a doubt, responsible for control over the north-eastern regions of Eurasia. This Russian "Drang nach Osten und Norden" is a natural geopolitical process of Russian history in recent centuries, which did not stop under any political cataclysms. Mackinder called Russia the “geopolitical axis of history,” and this is absolutely true, since the Russian people really traditionally gravitated toward the civilizational development of all those intracontinental Eurasian spaces that are located in the very center of the mainland mass. From this we can conclude that the strategic interests of the Russians are inseparable from the vast expanses of North-East Eurasia. This is the fundamental principle in determining the real prospects for the geopolitics of Russia (= Russian people).
Secondly, the Russian people (= Russia) are endowed with a special type of religiosity and culture, which are very different from the Catholic Protestant West and the post-Christian civilization that developed there. As the cultural and geopolitical antithesis of Russia, it is the West that should be taken as a whole, and not just one of its constituent countries. Modern Western civilization is universalistly oriented: in all its compartments there is a special cultural unity based on the specific solution of the main philosophical and worldview problems. Russian universalism, the foundation of Russian civilization, is radically different from the West in all main points. In a sense, these are two competing, mutually exclusive models, opposite poles. Hence,strategic interests of the Russian people should be oriented anti-Western (which stems from the imperative of preserving Russian civilizational identity), and in the future, civilizational expansion is possible.
Thirdly, the Russian people (= Russia) never set themselves the goal of creating a mono-ethnic, racially homogeneous state. The mission of the Russians was universal, and that is why the Russian people systematically went in history towards the creation of an Empire, the borders of which were constantly expanding, encompassing a larger and larger conglomerate of peoples, cultures, religions, territories, regions. It is absurd to consider the systematic and pronounced "expansionism" of Russians a historical accident. This "expansionism" is an integral part of the historical life of the Russian people and is closely linked to the quality of its civilization mission. This mission carries a certain “common denominator” that allows the Russians to integrate a wide variety of cultural realities into their Empire. However, the "common denominator"has its own characteristics and is applicable only to those peoples that have a certain historical specificity and cultural content, while other peoples (in particular, some nations of the West) remain deeply alien to Russian universalism (which is historically manifested in the instability and even contradictory nature of Russian political influence in Europe).
Fourth, the Russian people (= Russia) proceeds in their being from an even more global, “soteriological” perspective, which in the limit is of universal importance. This is not about the unlimited expansion of the "living space" of the Russians, but about the establishment of a special "Russian" type of worldview, which is accented eschatologically and claims to be the last word in earthly history. This is the supreme super task of the nation as a "God-bearing people."
Therefore, theoretically there is no such people on the planet, such a culture or such a territory, whose fate and whose path would be indifferent to Russian consciousness. This is manifested in the unshakable faith of the Russians in the final triumph of Truth, Spirit and Justice, and not only within the Russian state, but everywhere. To deprive the Russians of this eschatological faith is tantamount to their spiritual accumulation. The Russians care about everything and everyone, and therefore, in the final analysis, the interests of the Russian people are not limited to either the Russian ethnic group, the Russian Empire, or even all of Eurasia. This "transcendental" aspect of the Russian nation must be taken into account when developing a future geopolitical strategy.
Obviously, under the current conditions and with generally accepted Western, secular, quantitatively liberal norms of the legal approach, there is no objective possibility not only to legally consolidate the status of the “Russian people” as an independent political entity, but even to introduce such a term into legal and diplomatic use as a "people". Modern international law (copying Roman law in its main features) recognizes only the state and the individual as full-fledged political entities .
And therefore, there is a code of “rights of states” and “human rights”, while the very concept of “rights of a people” is absent. This is not surprising, since the secular and quantitative approach cannot take into account such cultural spiritual categories as ethnos, people, etc. A similar quantitative attitude characterized both the Soviet system and the "democratic" world. And since the Russian people are in the current period in a territory where either "post-imperial" or liberal-democratic principles of legitimacy operate, there can be no talk of any automatic recognition of the political status of the "people". Therefore, the logic of clarification and protection of "Russian national interests" requires serious changes in existing legal practice, and moreover,radical revision of this practice in a national spirit.
Such a transformation would not have been possible if we were talking about just one people, underdeveloped and not technologically equipped. In the case of the Russians, this, fortunately, is not so. Today we still have the possibility of political transformations quite independent from the rest of the world, since the presence of strategic types of weapons in Russia allows us to withstand, to a certain extent, Western pressure. And here everything depends only on the political will and determination of those persons who will take responsibility for the fate of Russia and the Russian people.
Be that as it may, the first step towards identifying the "national interests of the Russian people" is the recognition of this people as an independent political entity , which has the right to decide for itself what is beneficial and what is not, and to take geopolitical, socio-economic and strategic strategies in accordance with this steps.