Mikhail Khazin, a popular Russian economist, has admitted a possibility of creating what he calls the USSR 2.0. According to him, it will include Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan. According to his theory, Russia, the U.S. and China will divide the world into several spheres of influence. As a result, Russia will get all Eastern Europe, while Ukraine will break up.
How True is This Forecast?
In 1917, the Bolsheviks came to power thanks to the support by generals of the Czarist army and gathered the bits of the collapsed empire, offering the ethnic borderlands the most powerful ideology of the time -- the ideology of social justice and internationalism. Thanks to state planning in the economy the Soviet Union made a giant economical leap.
Without a parallel in world history, the Soviet social experiment ended, and the Soviet empire collapsed when that ideology stopped working, when the personal petty interests of the Russian elite and elites of other constituent Soviet republics came to the fore.
To date, the self-serving interests of both Russian elites and the elites of all the post-Soviet states have increased many times over. Moreover, none of these republics is seeking reunification with the Russian Federation. Recently, even Belarus which formed a common state with Russia has been turning away from the latter in pursuit of support from the Western countries.
Mostly, the strongly pronounced "Russia-phobia" of this kind can be explained by our own mistakes. Georgia has become a loyal ally of the West because Russia has supported the separatism of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Moldova is also dissatisfied that the Russian army saved the separatists in the secessionist region of Transnistria. Kazakhstan is afraid that Russia will try to grab the northern Russian-speaking regions. Let alone Ukraine.
However, this is only one side of the issue. The fact that Russia has practically nothing to offer to its former sister republics is more serious. Today, the Russian Federation has only two aces up its sleeve: hydrocarbon resources and the Armed Forces.
Given that the world market for hydrocarbons has become competitive in recent years, and that oil and gas importing countries are able to buy them from almost a dozen suppliers, in fact, Russia has only one ace left. Namely, its army.
The Collective Security Treaty Organization which includes Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan is solely driven by the desire of the leaders of the five former Soviet republics to secure political stability with the help of the Russian armed forces protecting the oligarchic regimes of these countries from all kinds of “color revolutions.”
However, even the presence of a Russian military base on the territory of Armenia did not stop the recent "velvet revolution" organized by the forces of Western networking agencies inside the country.
In recent years, Kazakhstan has been openly increasing its military cooperation with the United States and NATO countries. Several dozens of American military bases of operational deployment (the so-called Lily pad) are located on its territory. Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Armenia are cooperating with the US and NATO.
From year to year, the post-Soviet countries’ economies are increasingly disconnected from Russia. Instead, they are getting closer to the European Union, China and other countries that "have something to offer" to their economic partners.
Even if we assume that Khazin's forecast of "new Yalta" and the USSR 2.0 comes true and that Donald Trump recognizes Eastern Europe, Central Asia and Transcaucasia as a sphere of Russian influence, there are grave doubts that the Chinese leader will agree with this.
Certainly, Eastern Europe, Central Asia or South Caucases will not be happy with this twist in history. The European Union, which is increasingly turning into the Fourth Reich, will do everything to prevent these regions from getting back “on Russia’s hook.” The British Crown will go balls to the wall but not allow recovering former USSR power.
The elites of all these countries will be totally against turning into Russian protectorates. At present, literally every country -- even the smallest one -- has dreams of creating its own empire.
There are many people in Moldavia who dream of joining the Great Romania. In Turkic-speaking Azerbaijan, there are dreams of the Great Turan. Kazakhstan traces its roots to the Golden Horde. Uzbekistan, to the empire of Tamerlane. Kyrgyzstan remembers the days of the Kirghiz Kaganate. In Armenia, people feel great nostalgia for the times of Great Armenia that stretched from the Mediterranean to the Caspian Sea.
And so on and so forth.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, nationalism was a dominant ideology in the entire post-Soviet space. It is crucially important that nationalists began to dominate in the power-wielding agencies of the vestiges of the Soviet empire.
And how would these dreamers of reviving the former greatness of their micro-republics react to the decision of two or three great powers to include them in the “revived” Soviet Union? First, they simply will not obey that decision. Secondly, if they are brought to do so by trickery or force, then there will be such an outburst of ethnic and religious terrorism on the entire territory of the USSR 2.0 that today's jihadists will look like paragons of humaneness.
All these arguments do not rule out a hypothetical possibility of uniting certain countries and territories around Russia. Theoretically, it is even possible to unite the entire solar system around the Russian Federation. However, in practice, all this abstract forecasting is unlikely to happen in the medium term.
In order to increase a slight probability of rapprochement of Russia’s former ethnic borderlands with the ex-metropolitan country, it is necessary to revive the declining economy of the Russian Federation, to introduce some kind of humane ideology into the minds of Russian elites instead of the current selfish aspirations, and to overhaul the current corps of executives or, to be more exact, to dismiss illiterate moneymakers and saboteurs.
At the moment, none of these conditions have been met. Therefore, the dreams of the domestic forecasters as regards the revival of the former greatness of our homeland seem to be groundless and appear to be conjured up for purely propaganda purposes.
However, Mikhail Khazin’s numerous articles and interviews play music to the ears of people who feel nostalgic for the era of the Great Power. Undoubtedly, it is his merit.