Annual Vladimir Putin’s Address to the Federal Assembly could be evaluated as a program document of the contemporary Russian ideology. If the state policy will follow the spirit of this document, it will lead to the complete international isolation of the country. Militarist rhetoric combined with elements of the reactionary rhetoric about “healthy nation” and “healthy family”, “traditional values” as priorities leaves no doubt about the choice in favor of a totalitarian vector development.
It follows from Putin’s rhetoric, that Russia is surrounded by a ring of enemies who want to encroach on its sovereignty. For a number of European countries, which have forgotten about national pride, sovereignty is a luxury. This is the case in Putin’s reality. Present international realities are quite the opposite.
Firstly, no one is building the Iron Curtain around Russia. Russia itself is building an iron curtain, trying to dissociate itself from the influence of the West (here begs the Soviet phrase “corrupting influence”), both economically and culturally. However, in the contemporary world it is more and more difficult to live in isolation: the processes of globalization, both economic and cultural are legitimate and they will occur in the future, regardless of Putin’s intention to oppose them. Trying to resist them, Putin Russia pulls from those ties with Europe, which are so necessary for conducting modernization and introducing innovation in Russia. Reversal toward China will not contribute to modernization. Cooperation with China in the field of innovation is simply impossible, because China does not possess own technologies and innovations. All the latest technologies, which China uses, represent the products of Western civilization.
Secondly, no one encroaches and, moreover, no one questions the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of the country. Just as no one has any interest to renew the arms race and to be compared with the Russian “military superiority”. The rhetoric of economic growth in the Western world had replaced the militarist rhetoric a long time ago.
It seems that the North Korean ideology – Juche could explain how Putin understands the sovereignty. This ideology involves the construction of the state based on the principles of autarky and isolationism, which largely well correlated with Stalinism. However, the problem is that in today’s world, a state aspiring to be a leader, cannot be separated from the outside world. Indeed, some observers and actors, not only in Russia, evaluate the processes of globalization and regional integration as a threat to the sovereignty or even as a loss of sovereignty. Here it is possible to mention, for example, Eurosceptics who oppose the deepening of the integration processes in Europe.
But whether sovereignty is luxury for the EU member states? When Poland joined the European Union, it “transmitted” a part of the national decision-making powers to supranational structures, but it does not mean that it has lost its sovereignty. The emergence of new commitments in the field of international cooperation and relations with supranational institutions do not involve the deprivation of state sovereignty for the EU member. If to use argumentation in Putin’s paradigm, the only country, which has the full sovereignty in the modern world – is North Korea with its Juche ideology which, it seems, is a model for Russia.
Here an interesting question appears: whether Russia will lose sovereignty, trying to realize the integration project in Eurasia? In this question the logic of Putin starts to work differently. If in the case of cooperation with the European Union, Putin fears for Russia’s sovereignty, since in Europe he cannot set the rules of the game, in the case of the Eurasian Union, by contrast, there is no encroachment on the sovereignty of Russia. It is not surprising. Eurasian Union for Putin is an attempt to realize his geopolitical ambitions, i.e. build such a structure in which Russia will be “big brother” and not “junior partner”. It does not matter, that in this case Russia itself infringes upon the sovereignty of neighboring countries.
European integration, as opposed to the “integration” in the Eurasian space, was a voluntary process: countries, which were not members of the EU, evaluated the EU accession as attractive. Putin does not take into account that Russia as the “engine” of integration does not look promising either economically or politically, or culturally. The hard power, lack of understanding of the globalization and integration logic, leads to the fact that Putin isolates Russia from Europe, cutting off the ties that could be useful for Russia, would serve as an impetus to modernization, structural reforms. Europe, of course, makes evolve, change for the better, therefore, if we have to choose, it is better to be a junior partner of Europe than a country, which lives in isolation because of the aggressive external policy.
However, Putin has another point of view. Relying on “traditional values transmitted by the ancestors”, such as imperialist ideology, combined with a tribal consciousness and rejection of legal thinking, Russia, in Putin’s opinion, will preserve and strengthen its sovereignty. Putin openly operates with missionism rhetoric, symbolic embodiment of which is the annexation of the Crimea, which has “great civilization and sacred significance”. Thus, Putin made it clear that the Crimea could be just the beginning of the mission – the gathering of “Russian lands”.
It is obvious that such rhetoric is absolutely incompatible with the realities of the XXI century. Missionism does not lead to the creation of a strong state, but, on the contrary, will contribute to its collapse. Defending the sovereignty of Russia from imaginary external threats, and, thus, violating the sovereignty of neighboring states, Putin destabilizes the situation in the region, breaking international law. Accordingly, he exposes the sovereignty and integrity of Russia to the great risk: it is necessary to take into account that, for example, for terrorist organization “Islamic State” Chechnya could become such a sacred place, comparable to the Crimea for Putin. Consequently, the Russian authorities should consider that the annexation of the territory from which the Russian state began (from their viewpoint), would lead to the beginning of the end of this state.