Does Ukraine hold the key to Russia’s future?
The MIT World Policy Journal is celebrating its 25th anniversary by making access to its Fall 2008 journal for free until the end of November.
The 25th anniversary issue looks ahead to the next 25 years and, in Russia’s Rotting Empire, Nina L Khrushcheva (yes – before you ask – she’s Nikita Kruschev’s great-granddaughter) has penned a look at Russia’s next quarter century.
It’s an interesting article overall, but there were two things I found particularly interesting.
First – Khrushcheva’s view that political change in Russia is cyclical:
“…periods of ‘remission’ (a retreat from total dictatorship) or reforms, and periods of ‘oppression’ or stability have alternated consistently in the last century…”
I do agree, but wonder – if we accept that Russia is in the early stages of a period of “oppression”, how deep will it go, and how long will it be before the next about turn that leads towards reform. Are we in for many more years of sliding towards authoritarianism and a strong Russian state, or will the more frantic pace of globalisation speed up the Russian political cycle?
The second point, which I found intriguing given the disdain with which many Russians view Ukraine (and the fact that Khrushchev was a Ukrainian), was Khrushcheva’s argument that Ukraine could hold the key to Russia’s future.
“Russians know that Ukrainians are the same as them, a people similar in their culture and mentality. If they have made their choice, why can’t we do the same? Thus, if Ukraine succeeds over the next 25 years, it may herald the political death of Putinism.
[…]The best way to help Russia today is to help Ukraine over the coming decades support its claim that it belongs within the European fold, among European institutions.”
Ukraine is at a bit of a cross roads at the moment, and seems like it could go either way. It is clearly an ideal target for both European / US and Russian foreign policy, and I’d imagine it’s going to be a hell of a cultural and political battleground in the coming years. But I have no idea what direction Ukraine will take.
What do you think? Who will come out on top in Ukraine? Will the next couple of years in Kiev set the tone for the next couple of decades in Moscow?