|The military and geopolitical doctrine of Russia: new perspectives or the rebirth of an empire?
„If Russia is revived, then solely as an Eurasian state and solely via Eurasianism” (L.N. Gumilev)
Speculations about what's Russia at present and what it wants to be in the future raise many questions. The answers, however, don't pertain only to Russian geopolitical future, but also to the future of the entire world in the course of next ten years. It remains a fact that Russia weathered the period of internal political destabilisation and a partial state dissolution. The ruling regime has been consolidated. This contributed to the stabilisation of the whole political as well as economic regime and the concentration of strategic sources in the hands of the ruling elite. The next step, which follows objectively, is the restoration of Russian position on the international scene where it has been playing the role of an outsider since the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
In the course of last years, Russia has been drawing the world's attention to itself more and more frequently and it has been manifesting its priorities and interests in the global arena. Firm Russian attitude to Kosovo question, the deployment of US anti-missile shield in the Czech Republic and Poland as well as the question of Georgian and Ukrainian NATO entry has shown that Russia doesn't intend to yield up its geopolitical positions. Moreover, not only does Russia strive to detain its opponents, namely the US, NATO and the EU, to some extent, it also wants to dictate its own positions in relation to other states. All this has stirred up certain tension on the international scene. Irrespective of optimistic prognoses concerning the "victory of globalisation” and the "end of history”, this tension, or rather, geopolitical confrontation will not just linger on in some regions, it will even grow.
In the final analysis, it may lead to new civilisation clashes and new world division. There is no doubt that all these processes are to a large degree dependent on Russian political future. In order to illustrate the more or less complete image of ongoing geopolitical games joined by Russia and to understand what current Russia stands for, we have to answer some questions:
1. What civilisation and state form has Russia been heading for?
2. What is the position of the former USSR countries like in the geostrategic system of Russia
3. How has Russia defined its position on the international scene?
In my opinion, the most important is the definition of which civilisation and political development concept Russia will prefer. In this case, the term "civilisation concept” stands for the aggregate of political and cultural values, traditions and ambitions of a state. Apart from spiritual and metaphysical content, the given concept presupposes certain mechanisms of realisation. The fundamental realisation mechanism of the concept in question is the political form of the state. Nowadays, solely two such forms may exist in the world, namely a democratic republic and an authoritarian empire.
Bearing in mind Russia, innerpolitical processes, which are under way in this country, attest to the fact that democracy has become an unrealisable form of statehood giving way to authoritarianism. Nevertheless, the constitution of an authoritarian form of rule dubbed usually "sovereign or steered democracy” definitely means the return to traditional foreign political methods, namely the imperial ones. Authoritarian Russia has been nothing else but an empire. We may add that in terms of Russian non-democratic tradition, there haven't been other ways of pursuing foreign policy. Current Russian imperialism is unlikely to be an exception.
Not only does Russian imperialism mean the restoration of influence and control over former Soviet colonies, it also poses an immediate danger to the independence of states in border areas such as Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan etc. Meanwhile, it is hardly possible to say that Russia could establish a classic colonial control over the territories mentioned. Nonetheless, if the practice and mechanism of "steered democracy” will be used efficiently in Russian domestic policy, we may expect that in Russian geopolitics it will be conceivable to apply the mechanism of "steered sovereignty”.
This concept represents such a form of statehood in which all formal characteristics of an independent state are maintained, however, real tools of foreign as well as interior policy are in the hands of other state. Such a state with steered sovereignty is in practice completely deprived of mechanisms for the pursuit of an independent foreign and domestic policy without the consultation with the colonising country. Any attempt to get rid of its control may result in the toppling of political elite through elections or a putsch.
Of course, the return to imperialism and the putting of the steered sovereignty principle in practice require the possibility to apply particular political, economic and ideological tools. These tools are necessary not only for the extension of the country's geopolitical influence, Russia in this case, but also for the securing of the citizens' internal support of the state's foreign policy. In other words, the state is obliged to interpret the orientation and content of foreign policy to the citizens in a popular way. This holds true as regards various forms of imperial policy in particular. As a general rule, propaganda and ideology are used for this sake. In the case of Russia, one cannot forget about the fact that there has been a high level of political and geopolitical frustration lingering on within the society. This is connected especially with the dissolution of the USSR and the loss of an imperial nation's perception of own dominance and exclusivity. This feeling along with anger towards the West, which induced the dissolution of the USSR, has been shaping Russian nation's psychological desire to restore its dominant status and importance. According to sociological research in Russia the popularity level of the US and the most important countries of Western Europe surpassed the level of antipathy seven times and sometimes even nine times till the end of the 1990's. International scene events, like eastern NATO enlargement, the bombardment of Serbia, US military bases in the Middle East and the intensification of anti-Russian policy in Baltic states as well as other factors, affected the thinking of Russian citizens. The image of the West is closely linked with the notion "peril” in the perception of the majority of Russian citizens. According to the Institute of Sociology at the Russian Academy of Sciences the word "NATO” evokes positive emotions with less than one quarter of respondents are, whereas negative ones with 76 per cent of respondents (1).
Anyway, this creates suitable conditions for the formation of diverse imperial projects and ideologies. For example, Neo-Eurasiatism is among these projects. This concept considers Russia and the "Russian culture a non-European phenomenon which is marked by a unique unification of western and eastern features. Therefore it belongs to the West and concurrently to the East, whereas it belongs neither to the former nor to the latter at the same time” (2). Neo-Eurasiatism doesn't represent just a culture project, it is much more a political opinion on Russia and its future, which isn't possible without the restoration of Russian Eurasian dominance or in other words – the restoration of Russia empire.
In spite of this, the realisation of any ideological project on international level isn't conceivable without various material tools. Russia is a poor country and that's why it cannot be attractive for former Soviet republics. In 2007, Russian nominal gross domestic product (GDP) amounted to 942 billion Euro. For its sake Russian economy became the tenth largest one in the world. According to the research carried out by the auditor company PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Russia will take 19th place in the world from the point of view of GDP growth in the period 2007 – 2050 (3). The basis of economic growth is obviously the extractive industry. Therefore Russia isn't capable of offering nothing else but oil and gas to its neighbours. Anyway, these countries are badly in need of these raw materials. Under the given conditions, energy sources have become the most effective mechanism of political and geopolitical influence on "close” (i.e. former Soviet republics united in the Commonwealth of Independent States) as well as "distant” foreign countries. Russia has used energy materials as the means of pressure on the Governments of Ukraine and Belarus several times.
In some countries of the former USSR, however, there are innerpolitical preconditions which make Russia an important strategic ally. Among them are non-democratic authoritarian regimes to the existence of which democratic changes pose a real threat. Russia as an authoritarian country provides these regimes with political support dragging them into its sphere of influence in this way. Russian self-assurance as for the retention of a semi-dependent position within its former colonies and the preservation of authoritarian regimes in these states is thus much strong that it isn't even endangered by the increase of oil and gas prices.
Commenting the policy on the increase of energy materials prices for former Soviet republics, one of Russian analysts, the Deputy General Director of the Political Research Centre Aleksey Makarkin, remarks: "Russia hasn't been avenging on its political opponents, however, it's been acting as pragmatically as possible and in a sufficiently differential way. It struggles for the development of its own economic expansion in the post-Soviet room and exercises the tools of influence which it possesses” (4).
Along with economic expansion, Russia carries out also political expansion the essence of which is the moral support of authoritarian regimes in former Soviet republics as well as the establishment of contacts with similar regimes throughout the world. The moral support of the mentioned regimes consists in Russia acting in favour of these countries, excusing its domestic policy and condemning the policy of foreign intervention. The primary Russian argument is the affirmation that every regime including a non-democratic one is the result of a political choice of the people of a particular state and has a right to existence. Thus Russia "upholds and helps existing non-democratic regimes and maintains them in the sphere of its geopolitical interests. The process of "authoritarianisation” represents at the same time a tool by means of which Russia faces political influence from the West” (5). Authoritarianism and antidemocraticism have thus become the internal ideology of Russian geopolitical expansion.
It's not a surprise that Russia has ever condemned neither a single regime nor a single dictator to the exclusion of such states and regimes which are upheld by the US or EU member states, for instance, Georgia. It's to be expected that the conflict between authoritarianism and democracy will grow on the world political scene and Russia together with countries like China and Iran will play a central role in this process. To put it ironically, the slogan "dictatorships of the world, unite!” may become the motto of such a foreign policy.
Thus Russia has political and socio-economic potential to develop its geopolitical expansion. Anyway, it isn't the inner strength which it relies on but mainly the inner weakness and egoism of political elites as well as the instability of political and economic systems of other states.
The geopolitical doctrine of Russian imperialism
As I have already mentioned, concrete geopolitical concept must be the ideological and value basis for the realisation of practical tasks. It is at the same time a prerequisite that the concept in question emerges from political and historical traditions of the particular state. We may say that the geopolitical concept stands for the summary of cultural and political factors, strategic programs elaborated by political elites, which contain the definition of their own place and task in global space, and the place of other states as well as the relation to them.
Besides this, the geopolitical concept is a part of state ideology the task of which is the mobilisation of the society and the gaining of its support of pursuing particular policy. As I have mentioned, the fundamental geopolitical and simultaneously ideological concept of Russia is the idea of Russia as a geopolitical state. In addition to this outlook on life doctrine, it is necessary to mention also the second doctrine named "Project Russia”. Both doctrines are in fact closely linked with each other and emerge from following theses:
1. The exclusive status of Russia in the world.
2. The necessity of restoring balance in the world.
3. World conflict between the good and the evil, materialism and spirituality. In this conflict Russia represents the good and spirituality, whereas the West is depicted as the embodiment of materialism.
4. The existence of geopolitical enemies the aim of which is to destroy Russia.
5. Empire as the sole form of geopolitical and civilisational existence of Russia.
Meanwhile, it's difficult to comment to what extent these concepts are likely to become state ideologies. The idea of political, cultural and civilisational peculiarity of Russia is challenged by nobody in Russia. Nevertheless, concepts remain just concepts unless they are reflected in official state ideology and real political steps of a government and state.
However, one has to be aware that the main postulates of "Eurasianism” presented by Aleksandr Dugin yet in the middle of the 1990's were applied in Russian foreign policy. Thus, for example, the political elite have already defined primary objectives which Russia faces and the solution to which is the guarantee of the restoration of its positions in the global arena. Among these tasks are:
1. the decrease of external risks;
2. the surmounting of peripheral status and return to previous positions in terms of international relations;
3. influence restoration in former Russian-Soviet colonies;
4. the shaping of friendly military-political and economic blocs;
5. the transformation of unipolar world into a multipolar one.
The development and adoption of a new Russian military strategy in 2003 amounted to another step in terms of the transformation of opinions on foreign policy. This strategy defines primary risks, tasks and their solution ways. Among the main external perils to Russia are:
· territorial claims on the Russian Federation; foreign intervention in the Russian Federation's home affairs;
· attempts to ignore, or rather, to marginalise Russian Federation's interests in the process of global security issues solution or the prevention of the reinforcement of the position of Russia as one of influential multipolar world centres;
· the establishment or strengthening of military blocs which would lead to the disruption of existent power balance in the vicinity of the Russian Federation's state borders as well as the state borders of its allies and in seas that adjoin their territories;
· the enlargement of military blocs and alliances which endanger the military security of the Russian Federation;
· the violation of the UN Charter by the entry of foreign troops into the territories of Russian Federation's neighbouring countries or the territories of friendly countries;
· hostile information activities (information-technological, information-psychological) which are aimed against the Russian Federation and its allies, or rather, which endanger their military security;
· the strengthening of centrifugal processes in the Commonwealth of Independent States (6).
Aspects connected with the functioning of military-political blocs in the immediate vicinity of Russian borders, which are clearly perceived to be hostile and aggressive deserve attention. Today, just one military-political bloc, namely NATO, is active on Russian borders. The competition between Russia and this organisation is one of Russian priority tasks. The rivalry between Russia and NATO fits harmonically in with the image of enemy which is shaped by the adherents of Neo-Eurasiatism and the representatives of the "Project Russia”. It's an image of an enemy which is in quest for the destruction of Russia as a state. In accordance with this concept "western strategists claim that Russia poses a random union of underdeveloped nations. Similarly to Hitler, they compare Russia with a colossus founded on quicksand. However, the best European armies, i.e. the Swedish, Polish, French and German, were sucked in by our quicksand. There's no reason to assume that this is going to change. Therefore they don't push their luck, however, instead of a direct aggression, they prefer a snake tactics. In the western eyes Russia represents a phenomenon from various points of view. Negative processes initiated in Russia by the West aren't under way at expected pace. They cannot comprehend how and why this is possible. They put on hypocrites and study how we manage to fight against drug addiction because it doesn't grow at planned pace. Allegedly, they need it in order to gain experience. In reality, they want to acquaint themselves with our protective mechanism and destroy it (7).
According to experts in geopolitics and politicians one of the ways how to destroy Russia is to isolate it geopolitically and force it out to the periphery of the world. It's conceivable if geopolitical unipolarism dominated by the US continues (see picture 1) (8). In order to prevent Russian isolation and its further splitting, it is prerequisite to:
a) cope with peripheral position;
b) do as much as possible for the transformation of the unipolar geopolitical arrangement of the world into a multipolar one.
Map of unipolar world
In some Russian experts' opinion, multipolarity will enfeeble US dominance and create many mutually competing centres among which Russia will acquire one of leading positions. In other words, there is no place for Russia in a unipolar world, while in a multipolar one, there may be no place for the US. The task of surmounting the world's unipolarity was formed in Eurasian movement yet in the 1990's as a precondition for the existence of Russia as a state. "Neo-Eurasiatism cannot recognise the legitimacy of such an arrangement (the existence of a unipolar world – authorial comment) if it wants to remain as it is. Its task is to search for possibilities of reversing these processes. It starts from the pivotal and central question of unipolarity. Unipolarity, i.e. the dominance of Atlanticism in any form no matter if in its pure shape or in the form of Mondialism, condemns Eurasia as Heartland to historical non-existence. Neo-Eurasiatism is intent on the necessity of facing this unipolarity. This can be carried out through new bipolarity only” (9).
Practically the same words are used by the authors of the national concept of Russian security, who consider the formation of a multipolar world the primary task which Russia faces: "The most crucial role of the Russian Federation remains the retention with the aim of preventing a nuclear war as well as an ordinary massive one or possibly a regional one and the securing of the fulfilment of allied commitments. From the geopolitical point of view, the formation of the new world arrangement hasn't been finished. Its course is characterised by a battle of two tendencies. On the one hand it is US struggle for exclusive world dominance, on the other hand it is the constitution of a multipolar world based on the equality of nations, the respect for and the securing of national interests' balance as well as the respect for and the realisation of fundamental norms of international right” (10).
The former Russian President Vladimir Putin turned put these words into practice: "What is a unipolar world? No matter how they would embellish this term, in the final analysis, it means in practice that there's only one power centre and only one decision making centre. I assume that for the current world unipolar model is not only unacceptable but also impossible. This is so not just because in the current world there aren't enough military-political as well as economic sources for the existence of a single leader. Even more important is the fact that the model itself proves dysfunctional because it cannot be based on moral and ethical values of the contemporary civilisation” (11).
Thus we see that the ideological concepts of Eurasiatism and Neo-Eurasiatism aren't just empty words. Their concrete political forms have been developed. Only an empire may be political as well as state realisation form of this concept. Nonetheless, it means a new process of gathering lost territories. Without the restoration of control over former Soviet republics, Russia cannot become a real geopolitical pole. It only suffices to take a look at the map of global poles drafted by Russian experts from which emerges that Russian-Eurasian room is comprised practically of all former Soviet republics and Mongolia (picture No. 2).
In the book "Project Russia” we may read: "We're the only, unique and unrepeatable empire, a family type empire… All empires dissolved exactly in the aftermath of the division of people into individual categories. However, Russia exists.” (12) Dugin says in his Geopolitics: "One of the most fundamental geopolitical claims of Russia is the 'gathering of empire'. Regardless of our attitude to 'socialism', the USSR, the eastern bloc, Warsaw Pact states etc., irrespective of the assessment of political and cultural reality of one of the two superpowers, from the geopolitical point of view, the existence of the east bloc was definitely a positive factor with regard to possible Eurasian unification, continental integration and the sovereignty of our Great room…For Russia, geopolitical unification, "the gathering of empire” isn't just a possible development way or one of potential kinds of relation between a state and a room, but the guarantee of and a precondition for the existence of an independent state, or rather, an independent state in an independent continent.” (13)
Russian strategy as well as geopolitical concepts and the successful realisation of some of their aspects make us suppose that Russia will strengthen its presence in Eurasian region. Influence restoration in the region means that Russia will become a real geopolitical pole capable of competing with the US on the global scene. This competition isn't conceivable without empire restoration.
Map of multipolar world
Special attention must be paid to the fact that Russia justifies the power influence and the effort to restore the empire by the necessity of world strategic balance without which the world is heading for doom. Thus, according to Russian politicians for Russia, imperialism doesn't represent its ambitions, however, a great mission to save the world. Simultaneously, they claim a priori that small states, the sovereignty of which isn't the result of historical processes development but just a political chance, desire the same.
At present, emerging from the statement of politicians and taking into account the existent models of Russian activities on the international scene, we may define primary geopolitical spheres in terms of which Russian geopolitical interests are or will be carried out:
· Dominance sphere;
· Influence sphere;
· Penetration sphere;
· Strategic partnership sphere.
Former USSR countries belong to this sphere. Nowadays, Russia rules principally out their independent geopolitical development and the entry into any strategic blocs which would be aimed against it. The given position was precisely defined at the 2008 NATO Summit in Bucharest where Russia categorically objected against the entry of Ukraine and Georgia into this bloc. The despondency of the European Union contributes to the reinforcement of Russian position in post-Soviet room. Besides this, Russia considers also state alliances of former Soviet republics, which it isn't a member of, a direct threat. This pertains, for instance, to GUAM. Russia is in quest for their neutralisation at all cost.
One of the most crucial signs of Russian presence in post-Soviet room is the preservation of military bases in former Soviet republics' territories. As analysts say the presence of military bases in former Soviet republics has a political meaning rather than a strategic one because it "reinforces Russian presence in the given region.”
In the period from 2007 to 2008, Russia had 23 military bases outside its territory in all while the US had 800 ones (picture No. 3).
Russian military bases abroad
In the territory of the former USSR, Russia had 22 military bases situated in these republics:
· Azerbaijan, the town of Gabala (Independent radar node, RO-7, object 754, employs approximately thousand members of armed forces;
· Armenia, the towns of Gyumri and Yerevan (102nd Military Base, approximately 300 armoured personnel carriers, artillery systems and anti-aircraft missile complexes of assorted types, 4,000 members of armed forces);
· Belarus, the towns of Gantsevichi and Vileika (Independent Radar Node, 43rd Communications Hub, the station employs 1,000 personnel in total);
· Georgia. Russian military presence in Georgian territory has the status of peacekeeping forces which are dislocated in Abkhazia (1,600 people) and South Ossetia (around 500 people).
· Kazakhstan. The largest number of military objects is positioned in Kazakh territory in the region of Gulshad (Sary-Shagan, Balkhahsh). There are the Independent Radar Node Balkhash-9 (object 1291, OS-2), facilities of the 4th State Central Multipurpose Firing Range, facilities of the 929th State Flight Test Centre, Baikonur Cosmodrome (5th State Testing Grounds), 171st Command Centre;
· Kyrgyzstan, the town of Kant (999th Air Base), in other parts of Kyrgyzstan there are: 338th Communications Hub, 954th Test Base for Anti-Submarine Weapons, Automated Seismic Station No. 1, Radioseismic Laboratory (Automated Seismic Station) No. 17;
· Moldova, the region of Transnistria, Operational Group of Russian Troops, employs maximum 1,000 people;
· Tajikistan, the towns of Dushanbe, Kulyab, Kurgan-Tyube (201st Military Base, 7,000 members of armed forces in total); 1109th Independent Electrooptical Node Nurek ('Okno' electrooptical complex, object 7680);
· Ukraine; Crimea region, Naval Base of the Black Sea Fleet, it employs approximately 7,000 members of armed forces and 16,000 civilian specialists (14).
Notwithstanding the symbolic character of Russian military presence in "close foreign countries”, it cannot be excluded that this symbolic presence will turn into a real one and that it won't be utilised to some extent for the purposes of "steered sovereignty” in the countries in question. Apart from this, Russia uses actively regional tension and ethnic conflicts for the strengthening of its pressure on "rebel” republics. Conflicts in Transnistria, South Ossetia, Nagorno-Karabakh and Abkhazia may serve as an example.
The threat of separatism and Russian recognition of these territories as independent states prevent some post-Soviet republics, concretely Georgia and Moldova, from making hasty geopolitical steps. It isn't ruled out that such a political strategy, that may be labelled "geopolitical blackmail”, might become a new kind of "geopolitical games”. The method of blackmail will consist in the creation of favourable political conditions for splitting and disintegrating the mentioned states into small republics as well as the support of any forms of ethnic separatism if the states reject to recognise the required form of Russian dominance.
Military-political and interstate alliances are another mechanism of putting Russian dominance into practice in post-Soviet room. Among these are the Union of Russia and Belarus, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), Eurasian Economic Community, the Organisation of Central Asian Cooperation (CAC, till 2006), Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO). In all mentioned alliances Russia plays the leading role and also their joint strategy is determined by Russian interests in particular.
Thanks to various mechanisms, Russia keeps on retaining practically all republics of the former USSR in the sphere of its influence to the exclusion of those which have already become members of other military-political blocs. Besides former USSR states, Mongolia, which has always been under Russian control and influence, can be included in the sphere of Russian dominance too. Mongolia is a part of Eurasian civilisation and Eurasian room as well. It's the consequence of this country's geopolitical status. Owing to isolation from the influences of other civilisations to the exclusion of the Chinese one, Mongolia is predestined to remain in Russian sphere of influence. From this viewpoint it is a pivotal fact that political power in the country is in the hands of People's Revolution Party, i.e. the former governmental communist party. Furthermore, following the Government's decision, learning Russian language has been compulsory at Mongolian secondary schools since 2007(15).
Concurrently with the process of dominance restoration in post-Soviet room, Russia will strive to extend its influence to other regions too.
In Russian sphere of influence belong those states which lie in the immediate vicinity of Russian borders, however, which aren't members of any military-political blocs and alliances aimed against Russia and which adopted negative posture on the expansion of US influence. Objectively, in this sphere belong those sates which were traditional allies of Russia, for example, the countries of the Middle East and Southeast Asia as well as some small states in the Balkan Peninsula. Ideological concept, that Russia will most probably rely on when extending its influence, is the dissatisfaction of a whole range of small states, the Muslim ones in particular, with aggressive policy of the US. The enfeeblement of international institutions' influence on military conflict solution and prevention will cause the origin of new military-political alliances the aim of which will be to prevent new US aggression. Therefore mutual relations between Russia and the mentioned states will be built on the basis of military-strategic partnership and security guarantees. In other words, Russian presence in the zones in question will stand for a kind of security guarantee.
Russian interests in the region of the Middle East and the Balkans coincide with the interests of China, India and Iran, which aren't in the sphere of Russian strategic partnership. The development of relations with these countries has become one of central tasks for Russia. On one level the integration of the region in question will contribute to the forcing out of the US, on another level it will induce real confrontation with them and their allies on the international scene. The establishment of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) has been an important step in this field. Its origin was announced in 2001.
It's a sub-regional international organisation comprised of six member states, namely Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. The overall area of SCO member states accounts for 61 per cent of Eurasian territory and the overall demographic potential of the organisation amounts to one fourth of world population. From the economic point of view, SCO integrates also the second largest world economy after the US thanks to Chinese membership. The official procedural languages of the organisation are Russian and Chinese. The organisation is based in Beijing.
Countries like Iran, India, Pakistan and Mongolia have the SCO observer status. In 2007, member countries undertook joint military "anti-terrorist” exercises joined by the representatives of India and Iran. Irrespective of the statements of the representatives of Russian political elites concerning this organisation's peace character, it remains a fact that SCO is an attempt to create a military strategic alliance which could compete with NATO. The New York Sun daily commented it as following: "According to analysts the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation is a bloc which has been rapidly gaining enough power for confrontation with the West. The West tries desperately to expand its presence in the region, however, Russia and China have been gaining the upper hand in influence battle. This battle is compared to the "Big game” of the 19th century in which the United Kingdom and Russia competed for the control over the Central Asia.” (16)
Talking about the extension of Russian influence in Asia, we cannot forget that it isn't based on genuine economic interests but political rivalry between the East and the West. Political alliances like SCO remain actually blocs of poor countries which aren't able to solve own internal economic and social problems. Not even the political situation in these states is stable. If these blocs don't contribute to the solution to concrete tasks, which their member states face, statements regarding the significance of such organisations are nothing more than theory.
Notwithstanding its own economic weakness, Russia is successful in using the foreign political blunders of the US in order to obtain ideological positions on the international scene. That's why regions, dominated by the US and the EU for a long time, i.e. countries of Africa and Latin America, have become one of priority targets of Russian geopolitics.
This sphere represents Russian geopolitical penetration into strategically important zones of other geopolitical players. Russia struggles not only for the forcing out of the US from its dominance sphere but also for the penetration into states which are of priority importance to the US, i.e. Latin America. The Director of the Institute of Latin America at the Russian Academy of Sciences M. Davydov said when characterising the importance of Latin America to Russia: "In the period between 2007 and 2017, Latin America will be of great moment as for the expansion of Russian international activities as well as the reinforcement of its world power status. Moreover, the collaboration with Latin American countries will compensate for the enfeeblement of our position in other fields of our policy to certain degree.” Considering certain aspects, this task is facilitated by the fact that in many states of South America political resistance against US dominance was formed long time ago, but after the dissolution of the USSR anti-American regimes remained alone in the fight against the big US. Therefore they could face the US situation neither politically nor ideologically since they lacked more prominent allies.
Russian return to the international scene in the form of a US rival makes it an ally of South American regimes. From this perspective, bilateral visits of the President of Russia and the Presidents of South American states after 2000, i.e. following the election of Vladimir Putin as the President of Russia, have become significant. Russia maintains diplomatic ties with all 33 states of Latin America and the Caribbean Sea. In the period from 2002 to 2004, relations with Grenada were restored and links with St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Christoph and Nevis, The Islands of the Bahamas and St. Lucia were forged. Of great account was V. Putins official visit to Cuba in 2000, which was his first visit to Latin America. Important was also his subsequent visit to Mexico. The development of cooperation with the region's leading partners stimulated official visits of the Presidents of Chile Patricio Aylwin (1993) and Ricardo Lagos (2002), the President of Argentina Carlos Menema (1998), the President of Venezuela Hugo Chávez (2001) and the President of Brazil Henrique Cardoso (2002) (17). In 2007, the amount of goods exchange between Russia and Latin American countries accounted for 11 billion USD (18).
Nevertheless, Russia is still not strong enough to enter directly the geopolitical clash with the West, which has been still strongly affecting the sphere of Russian dominance. The question arises how the West will be able to compete with Russia after it succeeds in assuming control over its dominance sphere in full extent. Anyway, if Russia becomes a real geopolitical pole, those states, which will find themselves under the influence of new Russian empire in terms of the new geopolitical arrangement, will lack any political sovereignty and democracy.
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2. Makarkin, A.: Gazovaja geopolitika Rossii. http://www.rususa.com/news/print.asp-nid-15208, 12/28/2005
3. Usau, P.: Schto treba belarusam ad Eurazvjazu. Arché, 2007, No. 4. http://arche.bymedia.net/2007-04/num704.htm
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13. Vse rossijskije bazy. Zhurnal „Vlast´", No. 19 (723), 21. 5. 2007.
14. V shkolakh Mongolii vvodiat russkij jazyk kak objazatelnyj. http://www.newsru.com/world/15mar2007/mongolia.html
17. Rossija i strany Latinskoj Ameriki. Moskva, Ministerstvo inostrannykh del Rossijskoj federacii. http://www.ln.mid.ru/ns-vnpop.nsf/osn_copy/6FFE98C792E61FA0C32570430031545B
18. Vneshnepoliticheskaja i diplomaticheskaja dejatelnost Rossijskoj federacii v 2007 godu. http://www.mid.ru/brp_4.nsf/sps/9B6D03B7DC298E37C325741000339BEC
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