February 05, 2008 (the date of publication in Russian)

Maxim Kalashnikov


Revolution of innovations as an alternative to a "raw-export empire". Part 2

Part 1:


Recent studies of major US think tanks imply that Washington would admit geopolitical expansion of Russia in its shape of raw exports-dependent quasi-empire, a kind of colossus on clay feet. Dmitry Yevstafiev, expert of PIR Center, a major military analytical institution, argued in his interview to RBC Daily under the title "Advice from Stratfor": "While Russia is concerned of modernization of domestic infrastructure, some [US strategists] are urging us for outward expansion that is likely to result in emergence of a global anti-Russian front". Other Russian authors would elaborate: as the imperial system exhausts the strength of the Russian ethnos, we should rather restrict our efforts to a nation-state model.

Theorists of self-isolation overlook the fact that in its present shape, the Russian Federation is a no-win project. Regardless from the background of the provocative recipe from Stratfor and CSIS, these institutions have correctly identified the primary tasks of the "reduced" Russia in its borders determined by the 1991 Belovezhye agreements. In order to make the Russian project viable, at least some of the 1991 losses are to be returned.

Definitely, Russia needs to keep Belarus in its sphere of influence – as an ally on special terms or as a part of an empire with a special status. Belarus is essential for preventing completion of a "sanitary cordon" along Russia's western border, designed also as a potential stronghold of NATO. The stronghold of Belarus enables Russia to target NATO's advance bases in the Baltic States, Poland and even Czech Republic. Belarus is similarly crucial as an alternative transit state for exports to Europe. Besides, the fraternal Slavonic people, populating the state of a size amounting to 80% of Germany, comprises a community of laborious and highly qualified compatriots that has managed to save and upgrade the Soviet-time high technology industrial base, essential for Russia's innovative development. Thus, Belarus is really precious, and Russia's military and nuclear presence in this country is really necessary.

The same is true for Abkhazia and South Ossetia, whose population has expressed the commitment to become a part of the Russian people. In case Russia neglects this choice, it will not be respected from both sides of the Caucasus range, where betrayal of a weaker friend is regarded as the meanest crime.

In case Georgia enters NATO, the two presently unrecognized republics would constitute a perfect opportunity for close-range attacks at the potential bases. The Abkhazians and Ossetians have proven the capabilities of selfless soldiers with high qualification in subversive operations.

Under more peaceful circumstances, Abkhazia, the former Florida of the USSR, could serve as the most preferable area for health resorts as well as advanced agroindustrial technologies.

The Russian-dominated south-east of Ukraine, as the actual continuation of the historical Russia, is similarly precious, especially regarding the immense development potential and the military significance of the Crimean Peninsula. This territory could be transformed into a cradle of technopolises and scientific laboratories, while adjacent territories along the Black Sea and Azov Sea coastlines, with ports and metallurgic facilities, are essential for the revitalization of Russia's industrial circuit.

The Moldovan Republic of Transdniester, with its functioning metallurgic and energy-producing facilities and profitable agroindustry, as well as its powerful radio broadcasting center covering the whole Europe, is equally instrumental for targeting NATO bases in Ukraine if they Ц save God Ц are built there.

We have also to consider bilaterally acceptable forms of confederative relations with Kazakhstan, regarding the significance of extending influence to Turkmenistan. Investments of Russian capitals, as well as Russian military presence in Azerbaijan, are a high priority as well. Thus, much of what our country has lost should be returned into its sphere of influence in a preferable way.



It would be most irrational to abandon the friendliest and most developed ex-Soviet republics, thus betraying their predominantly pro-Russian population. Political and economic withdrawal from their territories would enable unfriendly foreign powers to grab them and impose their marionette regimes, formally democratic or of a different type.

Does that mean that in this way, we just swallow the bait prepared for us in the ostensibly benevolent advice from US strategists? That depends from the model of development of Russia we choose.

The choice of strategic model is more essential than the choice between expansion and self-isolation. The system based on fuel trade with a highly corrupted, rigid and incompetent bureaucracy is unviable in a long run Ц both in case Russia undertakes an effort of territorial expansion or keeps in its present borders of territory and influence. With a faulty system of state management, incapable to proceed to innovative principles of development, the nation will not survive. A Russia in its 1992 borders, or a Russia plus Belarus plus Abkhazia, would be doomed to backwardness and extinction in case it persists in the role of a raw-export appendage of the West.

It does not make sense to make a choice between radish and horseradish. The solution is not in a mechanical choice between an empire and a nation-state but in a qualitative transformation, implemented through innovative development of the Russian commonwealth.



Innovative development is routinely associated with scientific and technological progress. However, that is not sufficient for a qualitative transformation. Along with technologies, state management, economic structure, social services, organization of the society, education and culture are to undergo innovation. An innovative trajectory of development cannot be launched only by means of a mechanical redistribution of national budget expenses Ц from oil trade to scientific institutions etc. It also requires novel technologies of overcoming corruption; of selection of cadres for state service and relevant methods of state-building; of self-management of citizens; of state ideology and goal-setting. Generally, transition to a new Russia requires a new quality of creative activity. The country should transform into a single laboratory and construction site, into a rocket ready for a launch.

Succeeding in a transition of this kind, we'll not need to convince neighbor nations to join the Russian commonwealth, as the choice between becoming a part of an advanced community and staying in the shape of an insolvent quasi-independent entity will become self-evident.

While Russians are perceived as a tribe of barbarians, warming themselves near a pipeline, the Russian Federation can't attract sympathy even among fraternal peoples. A recipe of a quasi-empire on a fuel prod, with which foreign analysts are trying to tempt Russian powers, is a recipe of doom. Rejecting this Grecian gift, Russians should instead perform the miracle of innovation they are capable of. This transition implies a lot of risks, but without a risk it is impossible to win. Moreover, Russia has essentially no other choice but to take on a risk of an innovative transition Ц to a land of space vehicles, neuronets, constellations of new cities; to a land of free, strong and wealthy people; to a land able to solve global problems that other nations fail to deal with.

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