Russian paper predicts imminent CIS demise because of Ukraine

Russian paper predicts imminent CIS demise because of Ukraine

Argumenty i Fakty, Moscow
16 Feb 05

The last reminder of the USSR – the Commonwealth of the Independent
States [CIS] – is falling apart. Russia will be affected by its
flying debris.

“The grave-diggers of the USSR” moulded the CIS from the debris of
the Soviet empire, but the former “fraternal peoples” have failed to
become friends. We asked the head of the Russian institute for CIS
studies and State Duma MP Konstantin Zatulin to tell us about the
undercurrents in the commonwealth.

– Until recently the meaning of the CIS boiled down to just one thing
– all its member states tried to get privileges and concessions from
Russia. But Moscow insisted that the CIS exists in reality and that
it is a unique and special “continent”. However, over the past couple
of years it has become clear that the former Soviet republics are
crawling away from one another at various speeds. Following the Baltic
states, Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine are keen on joining European
structures. Not everything is smooth in Russia’s relations even with
its closest partners – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Armenia and Belarus.

Ukraine has always been the main threat to maintaining the CIS. On
the whole of post-Soviet space, only Ukraine is capable of becoming
a real balancing power against Russia. [Passage omitted]

We have even more global problems. GUUAM’s profile will be raised
very soon. GUUAM is the only organization on CIS territory of which
Russia is not a member. GUUAM’s members – Georgia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan,
Azerbaijan and Moldova – set it up to counterbalance Russia in 1999
at a NATO meeting in Brussels.

This shows very clearly that post-Soviet territory is continuing to
be split into two camps. Proceeding from its advantages, the first
camp is still seeking Russia’s protection, but the camp is growing
smaller and smaller.

The other camp is growing bigger, but it is helping to increase
foreign influence. Russia’s main troubles in relations with its
closest neighbours are yet to come.

The main problem in the foreseeable future is Ukraine and its
ambitions. Some areas in Russia’s south have a soft spot for Ukrainian
canvassing: Voronezh Region, Krasnodar Territory and others. Their
unhappiness about Russia can be a very good breeding ground for
such question as “Why do we need Moscow, which doesn’t give us
anything?” and such slogans as “We are fed up with the problem of

[Passage omitted]

Meanwhile, the CIS is becoming more and more a mere token of the
recent “co-habitation”. Two and a half years ago the Russian president
gave up the chairman’s post in the CIS heads of state council and
offered it to Leonid Kuchma [ex-president of Ukraine]. After Kuchma’s
departure, the CIS is going through a real crisis of the “heir to
the throne”. Of course, the CIS as a club for post-Soviet states
will survive this blow. Only one function will remain – it will be a
meeting place for the presidents of the former Soviet republics. Just
in case… [ellipsis as published].