Clinton’s ‘Sovietization’ comment attracts Kremlin’s ire

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (AFP Photo / Files / John Thys)
The Russian President’s press secretary said recent remarks by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about ‘re-Sovietizing the CIS countries points to a total lack of understanding about the processes taking place in the region.

As the former Soviet countries that make up the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) continue to adjust to the occasionally harsh realities of democracy and globalization, Clinton’s comment struck a raw nerve.

The US Secretary of State explained efforts to promote greater integration in the CIS as “a move to re-Sovietize the region.”

“It's not going to be called that,” Clinton remarked. "It's going to be called a customs union; it will be called the Eurasian Union and all of that. But let's make no mistake about it. We know what the goal is and we are trying to figure out effective ways to slow it down or prevent it."

Dmitry Peskov, spokesperson to President Putin, said Clinton’s comments betray a lack of understanding of the “the natural processes that are maturing throughout the former Soviet Union.”

To associate these open developments with some sort of “Sovietization” fails to appreciate the changes taking place in the former Soviet Union,” he said in an interview with the Russia 24 TV channel.

Indeed, Russia and the CIS states, much like other regions of the world, are coalescing into various economic and political unions, not to mention security alliances. Moscow is certainly wondering if Clinton has forgotten that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which continues its mission creep across the former Soviet space, is a vestige of the Cold War period. Indeed, the majority of Russians believe the western military alliance has outlived its purpose and should be disbanded.

At the same time, Clinton overlooked the basic differences between what passed for integration in the Soviet period compared with today. For starters, in the Soviet period, all of the decisions were passed down from Moscow in an effort to bring the various Soviet Republics in line with communist ideology.

Most importantly, perhaps, is that any integration that occurs in the post-Soviet space today is open and democratic first and foremost. No country is coerced to integrate into the various regional alliances. In fact, Uzbekistan is expected to inform the CSTO that it is cancelling its membership in the security alliance. Moscow said that CSTO membership is a “sovereign choice.”

Peskov reminded the US Secretary of State that integration is an unavoidable fact of these modern days.

"In the world today, given the frequency of global economic upheavals, the unpredictability in the world economy, the impossibility of making even mid-term forecasts, in a world where the smell of crisis is everywhere, the only viable tendency is the tendency to integration, the integration processes," Putin’s spokesperson said.

Last year, Vladimir Putin announced plans to forge a ‘Eurasian Union’ made up of Russia and other post-Soviet states.

“We are not talking about resurrecting the Soviet Union in any form," Putin wrote in a newspaper articlewhere he outlined his initiative. "It would be naive to restore or copy what has been abandoned in the past but close integration – on the basis of new values, politics, and economy – is the order of the day.”

Meanwhile, there are a number of other models of integration between Russia and other CIS states, including the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), an intergovernmental military alliance comprised of eight CIS member states, and the Customs Union, an economic alliance that brings together Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus.

Robert Bridge, RT