LETTER:Russian superpower stirs anew

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The Independent Online
Sir: Your editorial "Back in the USSR" (3 April) details the growing trend towards reintegration within the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

This trend is not a new phenomenon, as your editorial suggests, but part of an evolution in Russian policy towards the CIS elaborated in a new "Monroe Doctrine" since early 1993 which the West saw fit to ignore or blame on the need for President Boris Yeltsin to appease nationalist voters during election campaigns.

Increasingly it seems that Russia's current leaders perceive the strategic tasks of "Union" restoring as more important than domestic reform and integration into the world community of nations. The capital of the CIS is being moved to a newly constructed building in Moscow in 1998 and all leading posts within the CIS are dominated by Russians.

In the approach to the June Russian presidential elections both leading candidates - Yeltsin and Communist leader Zyuganov - are competing as to who will build a new "Union" or former Soviet Union quickest.

The 15 March Russian State Duma resolutions on reviving the USSR, passed by an overwhelming majority (with only 50 deputies voting against), reflect this trend in Russian domestic politics. Both Russian presidential candidates see Ukraine as the "jewel in the crown" which would satisfy their ambitions of creating a new "Union".

Despite these dangerous trends the West is still making the same fatal mistake by backing the current Yeltsin leadership as it did in 1991 when it backed then Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev. Yet the interests of neither the West nor Russia are served by the revival of a new Eurasian empire and military superpower which would be likely to lead to a new Cold War, a new arms race, Russia's repudiation of international treaties (CFE and Start 2) domestic and inter-state conflict within the CIS and the end of reform and democratisation in Russia.

Taras Kuzio

Research Fellow

Centre for Russian and

East European Studies

University of Birmingham

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