Russia in far worse shape than USSR was at end of first Cold War

USSR Breakup (Image: Andrey Sedykh, vpk-news.ru)

USSR Breakup (Image: Andrey Sedykh, vpk-news.ru) 

2015/04/02 • Analysis & Opinion, Russia

Russia today is in far worse shape than was the USSR at the end of the first Cold War, Konstantin Sivkov says, and unless it takes radical measures now, the forces that led to the collapse of the Soviet Union will have “fatal consequences not only for Russia as a state but for the peoples who populate it.”

Consequently, the president of the Moscow Academy of Geopolitical Problems argues in a VPK essay today, Moscow must focus on the experience of the USSR because it provides a negative example of what not to do if one hopes to avoid defeat in the course of the current heightening of international tensions.

Among the lessons current Russian rulers must learn if they are to avoid disaster, Sivkov says, is that they must strengthen rather than weaken the FSB and its control over key elites and that they must articulate a national idea based on justice and equality rather than celebrate one based on Darwinian competition.

According to Sivkov, “it is obvious” that “Russia is being drawn by the West into a new phase of the cold war,” that East-West tensions are higher than they were at the end of the last one, and that Russia both internationally and at home is in a much worse position than the Soviet Union was before its collapse.

Geopolitically, the Soviet Union had the Warsaw Pact and China as its allies, he continues. “Today, Russia observes its geopolitical opponent at its own borders,” with the West extending its control “over the countries of the former socialist camp and even certain post-Soviet republics.”

Moreover, “the current allies of Russia are dependent on it significantly less than was the case during the times of the USSR.” As a result, their support of Moscow is “far from always guaranteed” as was shown by their responses to the Ukrainian crisis and their increasingly independent foreign policies more generally.

Economically, the situation of Russia today is incomparably worse than that of the Soviet Union of a generation ago. The German invasion cost Russia more than half of its industrial production, but the Soviet government was able to restore it. Economic reforms have cost Russia even more, and Moscow hasn’t. Indeed, in many areas, it is now dependent on the West.

That is because the Soviet system was driven by national goals and a plan, Sivkov argues. Russia today, “under the capitalist means of production,” isn’t. Instead, the priority for all economic actors is “maximum profits” for themselves regardless of what that means for the country as a whole.

Spiritually, the situation of Russia today is “even worse than in the economic sphere.” The Soviet people, he says, were “in their absolute majority convinced in the correctness of the ruling socialist ideology.” More important, they viewed the social system in the USSR as just and as an example for the world.

There is nothing comparable to that in contemporary Russia, Sivkov says. “Social brotherhood has been replaced by competitive relations.” As a result, “unqualified trust in the ruling elite by society doesn’t exist. Instead, the situation is just the reverse.”

In terms of security, the USSR had definite advantages in its military forces, its special services, and its military-industrial complex, the Moscow analyst and commentator says. The only sector in which Russia today has an advantage is in its “nuclear potential.”

Despite its advantages, the Soviet Union lost the first cold war, Sivkov says. If Russia is to avoid losing the second, it must identify the numerous reasons that happened in order to take preventive actions.

The first of these, he suggests, was “the mistaken cadres policy” of the late Soviet period, a policy which allowed the emergence of clans, the growth of capitalist values at the expense of socialist ones, and a general decay which left the regime without people who could run a planned economy of the defenders the system needed at the time of crisis.

A second cause, Sivkov argues, was the spread of the false idea that military spending was crippling the country. In fact, much military spending was going to civil needs both directly and through the promotion of the kind of technological advancement that benefitted all sectors of the economy. But that is not what most Soviet people came to believe at the end.

And a third cause, related to the second, is that ever more Soviet leaders began to forget what the security needs of the country in fact were. “Serious problems arose in the security system,” and they threatened the ability of the country’s armed forces to “guarantee the neutralization of practically all types of armed threats without the application of nuclear means.”

Unlike in Russia today, the security services worked well both at home and abroad, Sivkov says, but at a certain point, their positive role was seriously reduced when the upper reaches of the party-state became “untouchable” as far as the KGB was concerned, a development that led to the appearance and spread of agents of influence and traitors.

And equally unfortunately, the Moscow analyst says, this trend allowed the party-state to put its own people in charge of the KGB and other Soviet security agencies. That in turn reduced their effectiveness not only at home where the new security heads began to display the same problems as the CPSU elite but abroad as well.

“The decay of the higher political elite in Russia is much deeper than was the case in the USSR,” Sivkov says, with massive corruption remaining largely unpunished, with selfishness enshrined as the highest value, and with clans increasingly widespread and all too powerful, he suggests.

Neither the elites nor the masses have a clearly defined national idea “which would contain a clear understanding of social justice and demonstrate that our state is built on the foundation of justice.” As a result, there are increasing divides in Russian society and little chance for the technological breakthrough the country needs.

And what is perhaps worrisome if one looks to the future, Sivkov says, is that Moscow now relies on its nuclear weapons for security because its “conventional forces are capable of solving tasks only in low intensity conflicts.” And its FSB is much weaker because more of the Russian elite is “untouchable.”

In that situation, he says, “’the fifth column’ is flourishing,” undermining the government and society and leaving them both “incomparably weaker than was the case in Soviet times.” Unless radical measures are taken, Sivkov says, “the country is doomed” and likely sooner and more radically than was the late USSR.

Leonid Kravchuk: "After the Belovezhsky Agreements were signed, Yeltsin called Bush and said: 'Mr. President, the Soviet Union is no more'" (Image: Andrey Sedykh, vpk-news.ru)

Leonid Kravchuk: “After the Belovezhsky Agreements were signed, Yeltsin called Bush and said: ‘Mr. President, the Soviet Union is no more'” (Image: Andrey Sedykh, vpk-news.ru)

Edited by: A. N.

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  • Turtler

    I stopped taking things seriously when it said

    “they must strengthen rather than
    weaken the FSB and its control over key elites and that they
    must articulate a national idea based on justice and equality”

    As if those things were even compatible. You cannot run a nation of justice or equality with murderous state terrorists.

    I stopped reading with any kind of sympathy here:

    “According to Sivkov, “it is obvious” that “Russia is being drawn by the West into a new phase of the cold war,””

    And I suppose according to Sivkov the Soviet Union was being drawn by Poland into invading it in 1939?

    The only side that has drawn anything into a new phase of the Cold War is Vladimir Putin’s Dictatorship. This was incredibly obvious because Obama and his clowns went so far as to appease him and offer a reset. A clean slate.

    Putin took that and abused it. As such any diagnosis that cannot get that right is fatally flawed.

    A very poor piece by Euromaidan.

    • http://peterbkor.wordpress.com/ Peter K

      I’m not sure EuromaidanPR’s editors actually read the article before they posted it. I think they saw the title, and thought it would cheer us all up so they put it on their site. But given how idiotic Sivkov’s paranoia and proposals are for restoring Russian greatness are, it is possible that EuromaidanPR thought the article would give us all a big laugh, in which case, I think they were correct.

  • disqus_aJpixObjG7

    For
    UKRAINIANS this whole story since Nov 2013
    IS NOTHING NEW. NOTHING AT ALL NEW.

    For Westerners however it is totally new…. BUT The russian racist genocidal chauvinists have ALWAYS said that the russians and UKRAINIANS are “ONE PEOPLE”.

    What does this mean? It means that russians since 300 years of RACIST GENOCIDAL OCCUPATION of UKRAINE consistently say that there is no UKRAINIAN PEOPLE, LANGUAGE OR CULTURE

    and ifa UKRAINIAN REFUTES THAT he must be murdered.

    Please look up the Ems Ukaz.
    Russia has promulgated 172 laws forbidding the existence of UKRAINE, ITS
    LANGUAGE, ITS CULTURE AND … ITS PEOPLE.

    For Russians, IT IS ILLEGAL TO BE UKRAINIAN. Period.

    If a russian is has feelings for his culture language & ethnicity he is a PATRIOT. IF A UKRAINIAN HAS FEELINGS FOR HIS OWN IDENTITY, CULTURE, LANGUAGE PEOPLE & ETHNICITY…guess what… according to russians he is a NAZI and a BANDERITE.

    Let the world know unequivocally: Bandera was a hero fighting for justice against russian genocide- for ukrainians AND FOR JEWS.

    This russian criminal ethnic cleansing against UKRAINE has been going on for 300 years.

    BUT NOW… just as the Israelites in the BIBLE, the UKRAINIANS say to the russian FASCISTS, “LET MY PEOPLE GO” …
    and they have taken leave of GENOCIDAL russian COLONISATION… and the UKRAINIAN PEOPLE WILL BE FREE.

    The little strutting shit FASCIST putin and all his raping murderous russian riff
    raff invading UKRAINE will soon PERISH with him.

    Putin and his trash will all soon be DESTROYED.

    The TRUTH can be trampled down but it always rises again…
    and UKRAINE has TRUTH on its side and… although entirely abandoned and ALONE to
    fight the russian CURSE, UKRAINE WILL PREVAIL.

  • Rods

    Like Putin he is still living in the Soviet era and doesn’t understand capitalism or the failures of planned economies. How many 5 year tractor plans were successful? Clue; pick any point between nothing and zero.

    He doesn’t understand that capitalism allocates and uses capital much more efficiently than communism where the top down approach relies on a small number of people being all seeing, wise and knowing, whereas capitalism is a bottom up approach with lots of customers independently making buying decisions with success based upon you producing the right desirable goods and services at the right price, right place with the right marketing. Competition is a strength of capitalism, something to be embraced as it leads to continuous improvement for customers and makes lives continuously better. The rewards from capitalism are making money for yourself and your workforce from the gross profits, whereas in a communist society it is about getting into a position of power to obtain your ‘brown envelope graft’ through corruption, not by adding capitalist desirable value.

  • Kruton

    Kill the Bolshevik lunatic’s!

  • Charles J. Kollman

    I believe Ukraine came before what today is Russia. Was not Kiev a City before Moscow. Before someone from the west like i can understand Russians you first must understand the mentality of the Slavic’s of Russia.

    • http://peterbkor.wordpress.com/ Peter K

      Yes, Russia’s heartland (the area around Moscow, called “Muscovy”) was originally a dependency of the medieval Principality of Kyiv. Even though it wasn’t called “Ukraine”, the Principality of Kyiv was inhabited by the ancestors of today’s Ukrainians, the same way the Kingdom of Castile was inhabited by the ancestors of today’s Spaniards. The city of Kyiv was built at least 300 years before Moscow. Officially, it was built about 700 years before Moscow.

      • Charles J. Kollman

        Hello Peter, Thank you for the information. Are you Ukrainian or Russian. If you have other good info please tell me or tell me good sites for info.
        Now i could be wrong, but as i see it The Country of Ukraine have people living in it that are Ukrainian in the east and south Russians that their parents or they migrated to Ukraine. Then west Ukraine with a mix of different kinds of people. This area was known as Galica and was ruled by other countries that were not Russian or Ukraine. The west Ukraine was made part of Ukraine by Stalin after WW11. Ukrainians and Russians are Slavic peoples. I don’t think the people from the west are Slavic only those with Polish blood.

        • http://peterbkor.wordpress.com/ Peter K

          Hey Charles,
          I’m American of Ukrainian descent. If you want a good site for information about Ukrainian history and culture, you can’t do better than the Internet Encyclopedia of Ukraine (IEU).
          http://www.encyclopediaofukraine.com/default.asp

          IEU is a free academic publication of the University of Toronto (in cooperation with some other Universities throughout Canada). It is a very trustworthy and respected site and publication, you don’t need to worry about “nationalist bias” or such there.

          In response to your comment, Ukrainian history is complex in large part because the term “Ukrainian” to describe the people and polity is recent. Prior to the 1800s most Ukrainians were referred to in the West as “Ruthenians”. They lived in several independent principalities (Kyiv, Chernihiv, Pereiaslav, Galcia-Volhynia and a few more) in the middle ages but by the 1500s those principalities had all been acquired by Poland and Lithuania. Ukraine remained under Polish-Lithuanian rule until 1648 when the Ukrainian (Ruthenian) nobleman and cossack Bohdan Khmelnytskyi led a national revolt against the Polish state. He established an independent Ukrainian (Ruthenian) state, the Hetmanate of the Zaporizhian Host, that was reduced in 1709 to a dependency of Russia, and in 1775 the Hetmanate was annexed outright to the Russian Empire. Much of Western Ukraine (Galicia-Volhynia) remained part of Poland until 1795 when Austria, Russia, and Prussia partitioned Poland. Galicia went to Austria and Volhynia to Russia.

          Ukraine remained divided between Austria and Russia until World War 1, when in the collapse of the two empires two independent Ukrainian National Republics, one centered in Kyiv and one centered in Lviv, declared independence. They officially joined into one state on January 22, 1919, still a holiday in Ukraine.

          However the independent Ukrainian National Republic (UNR) was conquered by the overwhelming force of the Bolshevik puppet “Ukrainian Soviet Republic”, which was shortly thereafter incorporated as a constituent founding republic of the Soviet Union. The UNR Government in Kyiv, prior to its conquest, had ceded Galicia and Volhynia to Poland in exchange for an alliance against the Bolsheviks – a cession which Ukrainians in those two provinces protested and refused to accept. In 1939, when the Soviet Army invaded Poland, those two regions were annexed to the Ukrainian SSR and the whole world pretty much recognized those borders following World War 2. Galicia was very ethnically and culturally diverse prior to WW2, with Ukrainian, Polish, Jewish, Romanian, Lithuanian, Armenian, and German populations (though Ukrainians constituted the majority). Tragically the Holocaust and ethnic cleansing in the form of “deportations” and “population exchanges” eliminated the diversity of the region, as well as in other parts of Eastern Europe.

          Eastern and Southern Ukraine have sizable Russian minorities due to migration (personally I would call it colonization but I’m trying to stay neutral) of Russians into Ukraine during Imperial and Soviet times. Donbas was a large magnet of Russian migration because of its importance as the industrial heartland of the USSR. Ukraine also underwent significant Russification during its entire history under Russian domination, with numerous bans on Ukrainian language and printing, the elimination of autocephalous or independent Ukrainian churches, the complete abolition of Ukrainian legal systems and the imposition of Russian legal systems, and the amalgamation of Ukrainian aristocracy (the starshyna) into the Russian aristocracy (dvioranstvo) with reduced rights and privileges. The greatest Russification occurred in industrial metropolises, like Donbas, in large part because of the rural nature of the Ukrainian population (most Ukrainians lived in the villages – it is a strange occurence that, throughout most of Ukrainian history, cities in Ukraine had non-Ukrainian majority populations).

          Anyway, I’m sorry for the length of my post. I hope it is understandable! I probably made some mistakes and someone else could probably explain more clearly and accurately. Perhaps they will.

          • Charles J. Kollman

            Hallo Peter, No no it, was not to long. I guess you live in Oh Canada. With all this history and so many changes in truth where does this leave Ukraine of today. My wife was born in Siberia and lived there most of her life with her husband and two children. She found out about the good weather on the Black Sea. She had it with the cold weather of Siberia. Her husband around 2004, but in any case he retired in 1987 from the Soviet Army. At this point in time he could pick any place to live and get a free flat. So in 1987 they went to Illichivs’k on the Black Sea. The new flat was ready in 1991 they moved in, but not free for long, because of the collapse of The Soviet Union. In March of 2010 i went to Ukraine and lived there till June of 2010. I have a friend there an American that runs a church and a hospital for children and his assistant Ira. My wife’s son in law was in the Soviet Navy i think for only two years. I never hid the fact to others that i was an American. Never had a problem all people treated me good and with respect. This city is beautiful and so clean and with so many parks and flowers along the street. If not for the bull-shit at the time from the American and Ukraine Governments i would have had no problem living there. Today i know it would not be the same, because of the mentality of the X soviet people living there. The outlook of America is that of an aggressor. My wife and i get along and love each other, but for some things there is a wall. We know who we are where we come from and what we believe in. When i returned home to Long Island, NY. and looked around of the area it depressed me. I knew i did not belong there my Soul you see was still in Illichivs’k. I have tried to unsubscribe from this, because to many people i found i don’t like and for me it, is then a waste of time.Be safe Peter and God Bless.

          • http://peterbkor.wordpress.com/ Peter K

            Charles, thank you for the kind wishes. I hope everything works out well for you and your family. God Bless you as well, and Happy Easter (Veselykh Sviat)!

          • Charles J. Kollman

            Thank you Peter. I believe your Easter is on April 25 Th. I wish there was a way to give you my email address. Your friend
            Charlicka6.

  • vSkiper

    West extending its control over the countries of the former socialist camp? Nope. Countries of the former socialist camp are and always was part of the West you idiot.

  • vSkiper

    So Sivkov is an American Agent? that explains the whole story then LOL