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Date: Wed, 3 Apr 1996 09:23:39 -0500
Sender: Former Soviet Republic - Central Asia Political Discussion List <CENASIA@VM1.MCGILL.CA>
Subject: CENASIA Digest - 2 Apr 1996 to 3 Apr 1996 - Special issue

Date: Wed, 3 Apr 1996 18:46:18 +1000
From: Mikhail Alexandrov <Mikhail.Alexandrov@ANU.EDU.AU>
Subject: Russian pressure on Central Asia

Russian pressure on Central Asia

By Mikhail Alexandrov, on the CenAsia list, 3 April 1996

Alan Fogelquist finally admitted that Russian economic pressure on Central Asian republics does not directly indicate at Russia's desire to drive the above republics into a Union State. And this is a good progress on his part. Russian pressure is explained by other reasons.

What is really happening is that oil and gas mafia around Chernomyrdin's Gasprom is basically opposing integration in the CIS, because their greed goes beyond any normal rational. What they prefer to do is to keep the situation as it is and suck as much as possible from the republics of Central Asia. But if somebody thinks that this money somehow benefit Russian people, one is mistaken. Russian people get nothing out of it. All the profits go into pockets of this oil and gas mafia and finish off in Western banks.

Chernomyrdin is the major force now opposing the integration within the CIS. He is so greedy (a typical face of new Russian capitalist) that does not want to channel even a fraction of Russian resources, controlled by his Gasprom, to support the friendly people of Belorussia. It was he who in the past effectively blocked all Lukashenko's proposals for integration, and changed the tune only now when the survival of their regime is at stake. But he is doing it exclusively for appearances and not serious about it.

Russian interference in Tadjikistan has also nothing to do with the desire to drive Tadjikistan in the new Union. Russia has legitimate security interests in that part of the world and has the right to protect them. When America is interfering in Yougoslavia, nobody is trying to accuse America that it wants to make Yougoslavia to join the United States. The same is true for Russian interference in the Caucasus. I think no Russian in his right mind would wish the Transcaucasian republics to be the part of the Union again. As far as Russian military presence in the region is concerned it is a different matter. Given the perspective of NATO's expansion to the East, Russia has to think about its own security. To paraphrase Alan Fogelquist I can say "Finlandization - yes, Russian Empire - no".

I will not try any more to twist Alan Fogelquist's arms demanding a clear statement of his position on Chechnia. Probably, his job prohibits him to cross the official line. But I welcome his comments on Yougoslavia. It is good that the author used the term "National Liberation movement" in relation to all Yougoslav nationalities, evidently meaning that they represented one multiethnic state, one multiethnic nation. That is why I think Tito was right in crashing separatists in Croatia. Note that he was a Croatian himself. And if I am not mistaken, Miloshevich also wanted to keep Yougoslavia together, though he was not a match for Tito, of course.

I will probably agree with the following statement by Alan Fogelquist "Alexandrov reflects an attitude which unfortunately has been gaining ground in Russia to Russia's detriment, to that of its neighbours and to that of the world." The only problem is that Alan Fogelquist avoided the major topic: why such attitude is gaining momentum in Russia and why is it so that people like Alexandrov so far away and so much detached from present day Russian problems suddenly became so much concerned of the policies, conducted by the US towards Russia and the CIS. Probably, Alan Fogelquist should ask himself if something terribly wrong is happening with American foreign policy under the wise leadership of "pro-Russian faction in the State Department headed by S.Talbot?" How did it happen that within four years a generally favourable attitude of Russians to America turned into negative and is now developing into outright hostility? Must not those responsible for those obvious "successes" be held accountable, or does such a development suit Washington establishment? If the latter is true, then ordinary Americans should raise their voice.

The policy of double standards, insincerity, intrigues and even attempts to intimidate Russia causes a natural negative reaction in the Russian people. Somebody may not understand, but everything hangs on a very thin thread now. One wrong move from Wasington and the world will be again plunged into a period of confrontation which will be much more ruthless, vicious and dangerous, than the "Cold War". In the Cold War ideological issues were at stake. Now it may become a national struggle - the struggle between Russian and American nations. History proves that when national survival is at stake Russians could be a match for any challenge. We should ask ourselves, however, do we want the world to go along a confrontational path or a cooperative path. If the latter is the more desirable option for Americans they should make their government to relinquish superpower ambitions and return to a position of a normal great poewer, probably, the first among equals (but not the one above them), like it was the case with the British Empire in the 19th century. And America should abolish its hostile plans against Russia as blocking integration within the CIS and attempts to isolate Russia by extending NATO to the East.

Mikhail Alexandrov