CAIRN-INT.INFO : International Edition

At the peak of the Georgia crisis, Western leaders lamented Russia’s “opaque” intentions. The failure of many of our political leaders to understand Russia stems from the routine underestimation of the ideological factor in the analysis of Moscow’s politics, and a tendency to see Russia as an “emerging country” run by an oligarchy whose concerns are primarily economic. The inadequacies of this frame of analysis were brutally revealed by the Russo-Georgian War in August 2008. The West does not understand the mental universe in which the Russian leadership operates, due to its failure to comprehend the conceptual frameworks that underpin Russia’s behavior on the global stage. In this article I aim to shed light on these conceptual frameworks, before demonstrating how they are embodied strategically.
F. T.

Legitimizing the “managed democracy”

1 The need to ideologically legitimize Putin’s authoritarian rule has fueled the interest of Russian elites in some of the ideological fantasies that emanated from communist-nationalist “Red and Brown” fringe groups in the early Yeltsin years. Today, figures such as Aleksandr Dugin, the architect of Eurasianism, have mainstream recognition, while former liberal reformers such as Mikhail Leontyev, now one of the main ideologues of Putinism, have rallied behind the neo-imperial cause and become some of its most aggressive advocates. This is not, however, a fully developed and carefully constructed ideology in the vein of Marxism-Leninism, but rather a set of implicit views that make up the Weltanschauung of the siloviki, the former KGB agents whom Putin has given a dominant position in the state apparatus. These men have transformed Russia’s intellectual climate. And the apparent success of Putin’s politics has long prevented reality from intruding on the confined world of the Kremlin, where a small circle of sycophants, cronies, and favorites are reluctant to inform the sovereign about developments and events that do not suit the official plans. This explains why the ideas discussed below may sound so extreme to Western ears.

2 The changes that have taken place since the Yeltsin years are best understood by looking at the contemporary historiography of Russia and the USSR. In the words of Alexander Prokhanov, a former champion of the Red and Brown groups whose ideas are no longer marginal even if his outrageous style is not widely emulated:

3

The history of Russia since pagan times is a history of successive empires.
[. . .] The first empire, of Kiev and Novgorod, fell to the Tatar-Mongol horde, because it was weakened by the free thinking of the principalities.
Muscovy, the second empire, ended in the Time of Troubles, when the provinces again defeated centralism and Russia became easy prey for foreign tribes.
The third empire, that of the Romanovs, lasted 300 years [. . .]. It collapsed in February 1917, when liberal values triumphed once again.
Stalin pulled Russia from the abyss and rebuilt it through blood and iron. This was the fourth empire [. . .]. In the early 1990s, the USSR fell to liberalism. [. . .] In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the decision was taken to abandon the failed idea of the national state.
After the Second Chechen War, the Russian empire was reborn. After crushing the separatists, the Kremlin bound the country back together with the new ties of steel and the federal districts, and rectified the constitutions and local laws. The war for South Ossetia shows that Russia is now ready to return to the regions from which it had retreated in its time of weakness.[1]

4 Here, Prokhanov clearly sets out the key assumptions that underpin Putinism: any regime of freedom represents a mortal danger to the Russian state, for freedom leads to anarchy, and anarchy enables foreigners to dismember Russia and walk off with its riches.

5 It was by distancing itself from the “democratic” Yeltsin regime that Putin’s system originally established its legitimacy, with Russian citizens’ bad memories of the Yeltsin years making it easy for pro-Putinist propaganda to attribute the end of the USSR and the troubled times that followed to a foreign plot to weaken Russia. This rejection of the Gorbachev and Yeltsin period naturally led to a reassessment of the Stalinist period and of Stalin himself. In a sense, Stalin’s reconstruction of the Russian state after the chaotic early years of Bolshevism was seen as prefiguring the way in which Putin rebuilt Russia around the “vertical of power.” Both men had to strangle democracy, that state of weakness that opened the doors to foreign intervention. Even “democracy” within the Party, although tolerated in Lenin’s time, was dangerous: the historian Konstantin N. Pisarenko has argued that the Bolsheviks’ big mistake was to replace autocracy with a collegial system of government. [2] Stalin’s inspired move was to eliminate this collegiality, which could only be fatal to the Russian state, and return to autocracy:

6

Stalin had to fight almost single-handedly against the widespread democratic madness [. . .]. Some wanted to defend the principles of democracy. Others wanted to prevent the state from collapse. . . A choice had to be made between the triumph of democracy at the expense of a functional state, and political stability without freedom of debate or elections.[3]
This was the nature of Stalin’s shift toward his personal dictatorship. A positive shift, as it enabled the collegial mode of decision-making to be replaced by the monarchical mode.[4]

7 By eradicating liberalism, Putin was seen to be repeating Stalin’s patriotic feat, for in the words of Mikhail Leontyev:

8

Liberalism is the politics of the strong over the weak, which deprives the weak of any opportunity to become strong. Russia cannot respond to the challenge from America in a liberal manner. Our liberal elite is not only pro-Western, it has been bought. Our country will be an invincible fortress unless it is surrendered without a fight by the enemy within.[5]

9 Under Putin, as under Stalin, Russia owed its salvation to the preservation of the core of the Russian state. Putin explained this in the famous speech he gave on September 4, 2004, after the Beslan school siege:

10

Today, we live in a time that follows the collapse of a vast and great state, a state that, unfortunately, proved unable to survive in a rapidly changing world. But despite all the difficulties, we were able to preserve the core of what was once the vast Soviet Union.

11 From this core, Putin and his cronies rebuilt the framework of the state, the “vertical of power.”

The vital necessity of empire

12 But this was only a first step, for their ultimate aim was to erase what they saw as their defeat at the end of the Cold War. Once the new government was securely established in Moscow and the petrodollars began to flow in, Kremlin leaders set about “gathering in the lands” and restoring Russia’s sphere of influence over the territory of the former Soviet Union. In their eyes, Russia must be an empire: for “the true test of the sovereignty and independence of a state is its ability to be the core and the gathering point of other states, in both the short and long term.” [6]

13 Russia’s leaders bear the scars of the fierce struggle for survival in the post-communist era, and their ideas are steeped in social Darwinism. For Prokhanov, empire is not a luxury, but a vital necessity:

14

An empire creates “rings of Saturn” around itself, rings of security. The countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) may be included in these rings, along with Nicaragua and Venezuela: didn’t Ethiopia once ask to join the USSR? Every empire has its own perception of space. We must speed up the union of Russia and Belarus, and add Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Transnistria, and Kyrgyzstan. Ukraine might be included, if it can overcome its Western faction. Then Iceland [. . .]. Expansion has no limits. Forget about the sacrosanct nature of borders. In any empire the borders are floating; they can and must be moved. The more space you control, the less likely you are to be stepped on by others.[7]

15 Hitler said much the same thing in Mein Kampf: “[Germany] must find the courage to gather our people and their strength for an advance along the road that will lead this people from its present restricted living space to new land and soil, and hence also free it from the danger of vanishing from the earth or of serving others as a slave nation.”

16 From the outset, Putin wanted not only to reverse what he considered to be “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the twentieth century,” i.e., to rebuild the Soviet Union, but also to achieve something that the USSR had continually pursued without success from 1945 onward: the expansion of Russian hegemony to the whole of Europe. For in the minds of Russian elites, the fatal flaw of the Soviet empire was the continued existence of this European “Rimland” under Anglo-American influence. Putin’s comment to Bill Clinton in November 1999 is particularly telling in this regard—“You have North and South America, you have Africa and Asia. Why can’t you at least leave us Europe?” [8]—as is that of Dmitry Rogozin, then Chair of the Duma’s Foreign Affairs Committee, to Lord Robertson: “It is not up to NATO to expand to the East, it is up to Russia to expand to the West.” [9]

17 Kremlin leaders initially believed that the September 11 attacks offered a way to achieve their geopolitical goals: in exchange for supporting the United States in its war on terror, Washington would give them a free hand in the former Soviet space and in Europe.

18 Putin was quick to whisper into Bush’s ear that Russia would do more for the United States than its traditional European allies. [10] Russian leaders were in favor of the War in Afghanistan, and weakly opposed the Iraq War, encouraging France and Germany to enter the fray, rejoicing in the split of Europe and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and the transatlantic acrimony. But the “color” revolutions in Georgia and Ukraine, which were seen in Moscow as the result of American plotting, demonstrated the utter failure of this strategy, provoking fury among Russian leaders and rekindling their thirst for revenge against the United States.

19 The increase in oil prices and the immense financial resources accumulated by Moscow provided the Kremlin with an alternative strategy: to make European energy dependence a vector for the projection of Russian power. “Western countries with ever-increasing energy dependence on Moscow will be forced to accept Russia’s growing military, political, and economic influence over the territory of the former USSR,” observed the somewhat misnamed Independent Newspaper (Nezavisimaja Gazeta) as early as 2004. [11]

20 That same year, the Kremlin completed its takeover of the Russian energy sector. Trade with Russia enabled the creation of a powerful pro-Russian faction in every European state and made it possible to corrupt those close to decision-makers with lucrative contracts. The most high-profile individual won over by this tactic was former German chancellor Gerhard Schröder, who was appointed head of the shareholders’ committee of the North European Gas Pipeline Company, in which Gazprom had a majority stake. But the manipulation of economic interests would have had only a limited impact if it was not based on a powerful ideological factor: organized anti-Americanism against the Bush administration, which Moscow exploited to the full. Up until 2006, Russia tried, with some success, to build a global coalition against the “American superpower.” The 2007 subprime crisis presented Russian leaders with the new, even headier prospect of the collapse of the United States, which had been predicted by ex-KGB experts as early as 1998. [12]

Raging against America

21 In February 2007, Putin felt that Russia was now powerful enough to launch a frontal attack on America. His famous speech in Munich that month anticipated not only the fall of the United States, but the defeat of the entire Western world:

22

The unipolar world that had been proposed after the Cold War did not take place either. [. . .] However, what is a unipolar world? However one might embellish this term, at the end of the day it refers to one type of situation, namely one centre of authority, one centre of force, one centre of decision-making. It is [a] world in which there is one master, one sovereign. And at the end of the day this is pernicious not only for all those within this system, but also for the sovereign itself because it destroys itself from within.
[. . .] the international landscape is so varied and changes so quickly—changes in light of the dynamic development in a whole number of countries and regions. [. . .] The combined GDP measured in purchasing power parity of countries such as India and China is already greater than that of the United States. And a similar calculation with the GDP of the BRIC countries—Brazil, Russia, India and China—surpasses the cumulative GDP of the EU. And according to experts this gap will only increase in the future. There is no reason to doubt that the economic potential of the new centres of global economic growth will inevitably be converted into political influence and will strengthen multipolarity.

23 In this view, all Russia had to do was to capitalize on the resentment generated by the role played by the United States in the economic crisis. It saw itself as leading the global crusade against Washington: the true significance of Putin’s speech in Munich was as a call to rally the global anti-American pack. This time, anti-Americanism might truly become an instrument for projecting Russian power. Many in Europe were fooled by Moscow’s propaganda, believing that Russia was still a victim of its “encirclement complex” and feared NATO enlargement on security grounds. As such, they completely misunderstood the mindset of the Russian leadership. Since 2007, the Russian elites felt they had been swept along by the tide of history, in a situation of almost uncontested power, and saw NATO “not as a military bloc, but as a limp and lifeless political club” [13] whose weakness was revealed in Afghanistan.

24 The Kremlin’s offensive was coordinated, with three main components.

25 First, the ideological component: Russia aimed to show that liberal democracy and Western values were going down with the shipwreck of the United States. “The old West has lost its role as the intellectual and moral leader of the world,” wrote Sergei Karaganov, [14] while Vyacheslav Nikonov, Molotov’s grandson, rejoiced that “the Western-centric ideas that had dominated intellectual discourse for centuries will be gone a few months from now.” [15] The emerging model was one of authoritarian capitalism, which had been a clear success in China and Russia. Russia was a civilization in itself and was ready to welcome in Western Europe once this latter had turned its back on the discredited Anglo-American model. After all, Europeans shared Russia’s penchant for the centrally administered economy. [16]

26 Second, the military component: Russia wanted to show Europe that it was ready to fill the void left by the United States in European security since “the American umbrella deployed over Europe [had] collapsed.” [17]

27 In the summer of 2007, Russia began to step up its demonstrations of military power: revising a Cold War tradition by resuming its strategic bomber flights, and repeatedly violating NATO airspace.

28 At the same time, its goal was to make everyone aware of the weakness of the United States. This was the true significance of the war against Georgia, which Rogozin described as “brazenly throwing down the gauntlet to the leader of the modern world.” [18] The aim was to demonstrate to all of the United States’ allies that American protection was now merely a fiction. The war in Georgia “resoundingly proved that the unipolar world does not exist,” rejoiced Sergei Lavrov. [19]

29 It was for this same reason that President Dmitry Medvedev brandished the threat of deploying Iskander missiles aimed at Europe if the United States pursued its plan to deploy anti-missile systems in Poland and the Czech Republic. In reality, the Russians knew that Obama intended to scrap this program, and they wanted to present his decision as capitulation to Moscow’s blackmail, further illustrating American weakness.

30 Finally, the diplomatic component: Russia wanted to definitively eliminate all vestiges of American power from Europe, which it perceived to be the only obstacle to its hegemony on the European continent. This was the reason for the proposed pan-European “security pact” launched by Medvedev on June 5, 2008, during a speech in Berlin: “I am certain that we cannot resolve Europe’s problems until we achieve a sense of identity and an organic unity between all of its integral components, including the Russian Federation.”

31 This idea was nothing new: Molotov had made a similar offer at the Berlin Conference in February 1954 in a bid to torpedo the European Defense Community (EDC), and the Soviets revived the idea in the late 1960s, leading to the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE) and the Helsinki Accords. Russia’s ulterior motives were most blatant in these early formulations of the draft pact: “It is important that all European states participate as national states, excluding bloc or group considerations. Naked national interests must be decisive”; and “distorting ideological motivations” (i.e., concern for the respect of fundamental freedoms) must be set aside. [20]

32 Russia’s intentions were thus made clear: to bring an end to European solidarity in the name of “national interests,” understood by the Kremlin as prioritizing energy supply. It was also through the lure of “energy security” that Moscow sought to bring Europe into its “pan-European system.” [21] Initially, the desire to eliminate the United States from Europe was expressed quite openly: “It is unclear whether it is appropriate to include Washington in the European system.” [22]

33 For Medvedev, “Atlanticism is over. We must talk about unity within the Euro-Atlantic space, from Vancouver to Vladivostok.”

34 But Russia wants not only to marginalize NATO, but also to crush the European Union by playing off “national interests,” to be defined for each country in Moscow (it is worth recalling that in late 1947, European communists began to campaign against the Marshall Plan in the name of “national interests” and “national independence”). A “regional pact” would set out the conditions for the use of force “in relations within the Euro-Atlantic community.”

35 Like NATO and the EU, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) has long been in Russia’s sights: as early as 2004, Dmitry Rogozin showed his hand by declaring that “if the OSCE mechanism does not suit us, we will have to put the elimination of this organization on our agenda” [23]; and in 2007, with customary elegance, Putin advised the OSCE “not to stick its snotty nose” [24] into Russia’s affairs. At Évian, on October 8, 2008, President Medvedev stated that signatories to the future European pact would have to refrain from “allowing acts (by military alliances or coalitions) that undermine the unity of the common security space [. . .] [and the] development of military alliances that would threaten the security of other parties to the Treaty.”

36 If Russia’s initiative were successful, it would find itself at the heart of the European security system, dealing with scattered and isolated states without the slightest counterweight. It would be able to control the foreign policy of European states and block any decisions, notably in the energy sector, that it believed to be against its interests. It would also be in a strong position to ensure that only pro-Russian parties could come to or remain in power in European countries. The dramatic transformation of Nicolas Sarkozy, who as a presidential candidate was highly critical of Putin’s Russia, into an ardent propagandist of Russian ideas [25] testifies to the power of the pro-Russian faction in France. [26]

37 As Medvedev said recently, “it would be impossible to tear us apart, to say Russia has to embark on one path, and our neighbors on another.” [27]

38 Duma member Sergei Markov was even clearer: “We are not rebuilding the Soviet Union. But Russia, which is a great empire, should be surrounded by friendly countries.” [28] It is worth recalling that, in 1944–1945, Stalin used very similar terms to justify his installation of Moscow-controlled governments in the countries “liberated” by the Red Army to his Anglo-American counterparts.

The Eurasian empire

39 The scale of Russia’s plans becomes apparent if we compare its European policy with its policy toward the former Soviet space.

40 Russia’s recognition of the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia was hailed in the Kremlin-friendly press as “the most important event in twenty-first-century Russian history, the true beginning of the rebuilding of the Russian Union, that is, of the state-civilization that at various times in its history has been called the Grand Duchy of Moscow, the Tsardom of Russia, the Russian Empire, and the Soviet Union.” [29]

41 Under Putin, Russian leaders have sought to breathe new life into the organizations that were created during the Yeltsin era to preserve Russian influence in the “near abroad,” but whose existence had remained largely theoretical because Russia did not have the means to implement its policy.

42 These include, for example, the Collective Security Treaty signed in Tashkent in 1992. In 2002, the treaty was institutionalized in the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), which includes the signatories to the treaty: Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. [30] The signatories undertake not to join alliances or participate in groups of states hostile to any of the partners.

43 On September 12, 2008, President Medvedev announced that the CSTO would become a military organization, headquartered in Moscow, but “with extraterritorial status, like the NATO headquarters in Brussels.” All of the highest levels of the organization were moved to Moscow. [31] Russian leaders now speak openly of a “counterweight to NATO.” According to the newspaper Kommersant, “Moscow is preparing to transform the CSTO into a military bloc, like the Warsaw Pact.” [32] Significantly, it is also within the CSTO that Moscow plans to develop the future European Security Treaty, as announced by Sergei Lavrov on September 4, 2008, with article 1 of the CSTO treaty providing for the expansion of the organization in Europe and Asia. The pact Russia has proposed to the EU is in essence an expansion of the Collective Security Treaty it has imposed on the “near abroad.”

From euphoria to crisis

44 Until mid-September 2008, the Russian press and Russian leaders were in a state of triumphalist euphoria. The Kremlin was convinced that the global financial crisis would only affect the West, destroying America and bringing Europe to its knees, while the “quiet port” of Russia would attract all of the capital fleeing the distressed Western economies.

45 Alas, how quickly things can change.

46 Moscow’s leaders have had to resign themselves to the fact that the Russian economy is not as strong as their propaganda (and that of pro-Russian factions abroad) had claimed.

47 But the domestic meltdown does not seem to have affected the country’s ambitious foreign policy plans. Russian propagandists are now trying to convince Europe that an integrated Euro-Russian bloc is Europe’s only way out of the crisis:

48

The global financial crisis presents Europeans with a choice. They can either cling to the wreckage of the American Titanic or give up the American protectorate and review their priorities with regard to their eastern neighbors on the continent, especially Russia. [. . .] The countries of the European Union must now choose their future strategic partner and ally.[33]

49 Russia wants to move quickly in order to make things a done deal in case America manages to get back on its feet: “The alliance between a strong European Union and Russia, combined with the countries bordering the Caspian Sea, could seal America’s decline.” [34]

50 Barack Obama’s election initially caused a wave of panic in Moscow; overnight, America had rediscovered its global popularity, depriving Russian diplomacy of its main lever, anti-Americanism.

51 Russian leaders seem to have reassured themselves, however, with the belief that Barack Obama will be an American “Gorbachev.” In the view of Vladimir Zhirinovsky, it doesn’t matter if America’s image is improved abroad, if it becomes weak and inward-looking.

52 In the immediate term, Russia’s biggest priority is to consolidate its grip on Europe and the CIS. It is counting on the United States agreeing to abandon its policy of support for the countries of the “near abroad” in return for Moscow’s collaboration on the Iranian nuclear issue and on Afghanistan.

53 The global financial crisis has resulted in the following shifts in contemporary Russian politics:

54 – In the ideological sphere, the emphasis on Neo-Sovietism has been abandoned. The official media even broadcasts anti-communist programs. As in 1996, fear of social unrest has resulted in the Kremlin oligarchy rediscovering the usefulness of refreshing the memory of Russian citizens about the atrocities of Bolshevism. The Orthodox Church has become one of the main vectors of imperial ideology. [35]

55 – In the eyes of some in the Russian elite, the crisis offers a twofold opportunity to build the “fifth empire.” First, it raises hopes that some of the CIS states will be weakened or even collapse, giving Moscow an excuse to accelerate the economic integration of the CIS as a prelude to a political takeover. With this in mind, some Russian experts believe that it would be wise to disguise Medvedev’s strategy of a sphere of influence, bluntly set out last August, by speaking of “multilateral integration programs,” as a more politically correct and acceptable term for the West. [36]

56 Second, the crisis means that the West is unable to react to Moscow pursuing such a policy. Alexander Prokhanov has compared the Russia of today to the young Soviet Republic, which was able to rebuild the empire in spite of troubles, shortages, and famines, due to the exhaustion and long-term paralysis of the Entente powers following the First World War. [37]

57 Other experts believe that the crisis will force Moscow to adopt a low profile, especially in Europe, until the price of hydrocarbons rises again and puts it in a position of strength. [38] The OSCE summit in Helsinki on December 5 and 6 last year put a dampener on Moscow’s plans, with Medvedev’s idea of a new European security system falling flat. Russia was confronted by the rapid decline of its grip on Europe. This new reality will undoubtedly strengthen the position of those who want to prioritize control over the former Soviet space.

58 At present, given the ongoing fallout from the crisis, it is difficult to predict which way Russia will go. We might however look to historical precedents: twice already, in 1917 and in 1989, when Russia thought it was on the verge of realizing ambitious expansion projects, it was surprised by a sudden internal collapse. The Putin-Medvedev state could well suffer the same fate.

Notes

  • [1]
    Alexander Prokhanov, “Rasti, inache sozhrut” (“We must expand, or others will take advantage”), Argumenty i Fakty, October 29, 2008. Translator’s note: Unless otherwise stated, all translations of cited foreign-language material in this article are our own.
  • [2]
    Konstantin N. Pisarenko, Tridcatiletnjaja vojna v Politburo, 1923-1953 (Moscow: Vece, 2006).
  • [3]
    Pisarenko, Tridcatiletnjaja, 104.
  • [4]
    Pisarenko, Tridcatiletnjaja, 190.
  • [5]
    See Grani.ru, September 23, 2008.
  • [6]
    Grani.ru, September 23, 2008.
  • [7]
    Prokhanov, “Rasti, inache sozhrut.”
  • [8]
    Quoted in Françoise Thom, “An Assessment of Putin’s First Months in Power,” European Security, July 23, 2000, https://european-security.com/assessment-putins-first-months-power/.
  • [9]
    smi.ru, February 20, 2001.
  • [10]
    Bob Woodward, Bush At War (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2003), 118.
  • [11]
    Nezavisimaja Gazeta, October 18, 2004.
  • [12]
    Igor Panarin, for example, predicted that by 2010 the United States would break up into five republics: a Californian Republic in the west, which would become a Chinese sphere of influence; a Texas Republic in the south, which would join Mexico; a Central North-American Republic that would go to Canada; an Atlantic America gravitating toward the European Union; and Alaska, which would go to Russia. See Wall Street Journal, December 29, 2008.
  • [13]
    Interview with Dmitry Rogozin, Zavtra, August 20, 2008.
  • [14]
    Quoted in Nezavisimaja Gazeta, October 29, 2008.
  • [15]
    Izvestia, October 15, 2008.
  • [16]
    All of these ideas are best expressed in a speech Sergei Lavrov gave on June 20, 2008, at a symposium entitled: “Russia in the 21st Century.”
  • [17]
    Ekatrina Nikonova, “Evropa na rasputie?,” Izvestia, October 13, 2008.
  • [18]
    Zavtra, August 20, 2008.
  • [19]
    Politika 593, no. 38 (October 13, 2008).
  • [20]
  • [21]
    See Andrei Baklanov, “Novy evropejski dom,” Nezavisimaja Gazeta, October 15, 2008.
  • [22]
    Baklanov, “Novy evropejski dom.”
  • [23]
    strana.ru, December 17, 2004.
  • [24]
    Quoted in Kommersant, December 5, 2008.
  • [25]
    Sarkozy went as far as espousing the paranoid logic of his Russian interlocutors: “If the Warsaw Pact existed and was installing missiles in Belgium, don’t you think we would support the pro-French part of Belgium?” This is how the Élysée justified the Russian stance on Ukraine (Le Monde, December 10, 2008).
  • [26]
    See Vincent Jauvert, “Sarko le Russe,” nouvelobs.com, November 17, 2008.
  • [27]
    Quoted in Slawomir Debski, “Russia’s Self-Contradictory Foreign Policy,” International Herald Tribune, October 31, 2008.
  • [28]
    Quoted in Owen Matthews and Anna Nemtsova, “The Medvedev Doctrine,” Newsweek, December 1, 2008.
  • [29]
    Quoted by Grani.ru, September 23, 2008.
  • [30]
    The CSTO is the political-military extension of the Eurasian Economic Community (EAEC), which includes Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan.
  • [31]
    Courrier International, September 8, 2008.
  • [32]
    Courrier International, September 8, 2008.
  • [33]
    Nikonova, “Evropa na rasputie?”
  • [34]
    Gazeta.ru, November 5, 2008.
  • [35]
    On December 8, 2008, for example, President Medvedev had an hour-long audience with the Patriarch of the Georgian Orthodox Church.
  • [36]
    On this, see Mikhail Remizov, “Ob ‘otrecheniakh’ Medvedeva,” APN, November 26, 2008.
  • [37]
    See Alexander Prokhanov, “Krisis, kak vojna i pobeda,” Zavtra, December 24, 2008.
  • [38]
    See Fyodor Lukianov, “Two Crises Derailed Attempts to Improve EU Ties,” The Moscow Times, December 18, 2008.
Françoise Thom
Françoise Thom is an emeritus lecturer at the Sorbonne. Her published works include La marche à rebours: Regards sur l’histoire soviétique et russe (Sorbonne Université Presses, 2021), Newspeak: The Language of Soviet Communism, trans. Ken Connelly (Claridge, 1989), The Gorbachev Phenomenon: A History of Perestroika, trans. Jenny Marshall (Pinter, 1989), and Les Fins du communisme (Critérion, 1994).
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