By Elena Chinyaeva
In 1927, when the transformation of the Soviet Union into a real unionist state was gathering momentum, the Russian emigre historian Georgy Vernadsky asserted that the Soviet Union was bound to disintegrate. A proponent of the idea of rhythms in history, Vernadsky, one of the founders of a Eurasian school of thought, concluded that the state-building process in Eurasia gone through consecutive stages of unification and disintegration. The USSR, being a typical Eurasian centralized state, awaits the same fate, he argued. Yet an understanding of the Eurasian regions’ geopolitical and economic unity might bring about new forms of federation diverging from the usual cycle. It took sixty-four years for Vernadsky’s prediction to come true: In 1991, the Soviet Union fell apart. Ten years later, the first signs appeared that some former Soviet republics were toying with the idea of gathering again under Russia’s wing. Here Russia faces tough choices: While it is interested in creating a hospitable environment for its expanding economy, it is repelled by the poverty, government inefficiency and economic decay prevailing in most of its new-old allies. Meanwhile, Russia must reckon with the fact that the rich West might be alienated by Moscow’s growing political influence in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).
A LOOSE UNION