Destinations Magazine

Did the Soviet Union Break up Prematurely?

By Mendeleyeev

Russia Direct, a propaganda arm of Kremlin owned media, recently issued a five-page talking points paper on control of Ukraine. Maxim Kharkevich, a professor from Moscow State Institute of International Relations, explains how the Cold War never ended properly, and thus the Soviet Union was broken up prematurely. In his five points, he hints that some countries really should never have been sovereign states at all. Kharkevich seems to follow the Kremlin line of thinking that had not the CCCP come to a premature end, Ukraine (and other states) would still belong to Russia.

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The author cites the Yalta-Potsdam agreements as an example of how the world powers came together and divided up Europe. He, and he speaks for the Kremlin by virtue of this publication, appears to believe that since there was no “Yalta-Potsdam” agreement at the end of the Cold War, that the Soviet Union really didn’t break up officially. Instead, the boundaries of what is Russia, and what is no longer Soviet, remains an open question to the Kremlin. Naturally, only Russia knows best how all that territory should be divided, and since in his view the world court did nothing to stop the breakup of Yugoslavia, there is no legal authority to decide such disputes. To which, he writes that “Russia has taken upon itself the role of gatekeeper of the post-Soviet space.”

Therein lies the rub: Russia knows best, and any former Soviet Republic that desires to link with Western institutions such as the EU, or even NATO, is violating international norms, or at least the wishes of Moscow. What the author never acknowledges, and the vast majority of Russians are blind to this fact, is that there are compelling reasons why many of the former Soviet pact states no longer desire, or even fear, being under the thumb of Moscow. Naturally, a part of his argument is that NATO must be frozen and prevented from any further Eastward expansion.

The author also believes that the G20, not the UN or world courts, will be the eventual arbitrator over such territorial disputes in the future. He glosses over the many post-Soviet accomplishments of trade between Russia and the USA, opting instead to insist that trade agreements took too long to develop, and as such part of the territorial disputes could have been apparently been avoided by more aggressive free trade strategies. He ignores that much of that work was done proactively by the USA, and in spite of continued Russian state corruption and graft.

There are so many holes in his reasoning that if one folded up the paper and tried to create a paper airplane, the thing likely would not fly.

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