Staunton, December 9 – Leonid Kravchuk, the Ukrainian leader who signed the Beloveshchaya accords in 1991, says that in his view, “Russians don’t want the return of the Soviet Union. They want instead to dominate” other countries and to create a structure so that Russia will be in charge and “all will be under Russia” and “fulfill its will rather than their own.
In an interview yesterday with Ukrinform, the Ukrainian leader says that “this is an idea of the 19th or perhaps the early 20th century. But in the 21st century, the world has changed, people have changed, and they are now sufficiently freed up and free thinking that they won’t permit anyone to carry out such plans” (ukrinform.ru/rubric-politycs/2135941-rossiane-hotat-ne-stolko-vosstanovlenia-sssr-kak-dominirovat-kravcuk.html).
According to Kravchuk, the Kremlin understands this too; but it talks about such things because “part of the people of Russia support precisely such a policy.”
The Ukrainian leader’s observations call attention to two things many ignore: On the one hand, however much nostalgia Russians may have for Soviet times as a general proposition about their loss of status, few of them really want to go back to the world of the USSR because of what it would mean for them.
And on the other, however much some of them, including the current occupant of the Kremlin, may want to restore the empire, there are forces in train that will make that difficult if not impossible and self-destructive, something that at least some cooler heads in Moscow now understand.