7 December 2012, 16:56

Hillary Clinton: thwarting re-Sovietiztion or imposing Americanization?

Hillary Clinton: thwarting re-Sovietiztion or imposing Americanization?

As reported by the Financial Times, on Thursday, hours before meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told a news conference that the US is to prevent Russia from integrating more closely with its neighbors in Central Asia and Eastern Europe.

"There is a move to re-Sovietise the region," said the US Secretary of State. "It’s not going to be called that. It’s going to be called a customs union, it will be called Eurasian Union and all of that. But let's make no mistake about it. We know what the goal is and we are trying to figure out effective ways to slow down or prevent it."

What irritated Ms. Hillary to the extent that she is obviously going to rethink the "reset" policy in relations with Russia, declared in 2009 and launched with her direct participation, is the process of growing integration between former Soviet States, and in particular Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan which formed a customs union in 2010. In 2012, the union was transformed into a common economic space with prospects of turning into a Eurasian Union that would enable other neighboring countries to join it along lines similar to of those the European Union.

In October 2011, in an article published by Russian "Izvestia" newspaper, the then-Premier of the Russian federation Vladimir Putin wrote, "There is no talk of reforming the USSR in some form. It would be naive to restore or copy what has been abandoned in the past but close integration – on the basis of new values, politics and economy is the order of the day."

So, there is a clear impression that when Ms. Hillary speaks of "re-Sovietization", she barely notices the real goals formulated by the Russian politicians, but rather suspects that Russia in its policy regarding its neighbors is following the pattern with which she, as the head of American diplomacy, is well acquainted.

Hence, her claims that Russia is following an expansionist policy, and hence her desire to see the retreat "of so many of the hoped-for indicators of progress" she saw 20 years ago.

And when Mr. Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov called Ms. Hillary's comments "a completely wrong understanding" of integration efforts and said, "What we see on the territory of the ex-Soviet Union is a new type of integration, based only on economic integration. Any other type of integration is totally impossible in today’s world," he was right in essence, but his words are sure to fall on deaf ears. As, for example, the voting in the US Senate on the so-called "Magnitsky Act" has shown, the top brass of the US foreign policy are too blind-folded by the old stereotypes, and still believe they are living in the times of the Cold War.

But what Ms. Hillary's statements do really reveal is the unchanging US strategy towards Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Despite her obvious blunders concerning the nature of Russian policy with regard to its neighbors, her statements concerning the US line really ring true. "We are trying to figure out effective ways to slow down or prevent it."

Indeed, they are. For that, the US has launched full-scale wars in close vicinity to the region (not to mention local clashes and a "limited" use of drones on a wider number of countries), slaughtered hundreds of thousands Iraqis and Afghans depriving them of the basic human right – the right to live, successfully destabilized the situation in their "Great Middle East", flooded the whole Central Asia with Afghan opium and heroin (with metastasis reaching as far as Russia and Western Europe). And after that Ms. Hillary is trying to present her country as a champion of human rights and finds it OK for herself to criticize others.

In fact, one passage from her speech is worth quoting once more – "Let's make no mistake about it. We know what the goal is."

Thou hast said it, Ms. Hillary!

Boris Volkhonsky, senior research fellow, Russian Institute for Strategic Studies

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