PRAVDA.Ru had an interview with one of the youngest deputies of the State Duma, Vladimir Koptev-Dvornikov, from the Union of Right Forces faction. We talked about Russia’s geopolitics.
Question: Mr. Koptev-Dvornikov, what is your estimation to Russia's foreign policy after Vladimir Putin became the president of the country?
Answer: Putin's position is more realistic in comparison with Yeltsin’s position. Russia was overestimating its foreign policy from the forced isolation to the readiness of conducting a dialogue with the West. Is it bad or good? I say it is good, as a person, who believes that Russia is a part of the European community. On the other hand, we should not forget that we have the geopolitical interests in the East. First and foremost, it is the powerful civilization of Japan, which can act as our strategic ally, when it comes to the conflicts and the ways to settle them. There is also an extremely powerful civilization, which is dangerous for us – China – the country that will be our competitor in the 21st century, both from the point of view of the threat to our borders, and from the point of view of the living standard and the technological development. That is why I welcome our accomplishment in terms of the breakthrough towards East-West direction. However, there is nothing yet as referred to West-East.
A: I think that Putin is a person, who really has the new way of thinking in comparison with our previous leader, Gorbachev and Yeltsin. Gorbachev demolished the great country, the USSR, and Yeltsin was trying to pretend that Russia was still a super-power. Putin is the first president, who learned the principle that Russia must live within its means, and therefore, act on the international arena according to this principle. We are not sending out subs all over the world, if there is a conflict somewhere, we are not threatening with our planes – this is in the past, but the economic levels are growing at that. Paying back the debts, for instance. How much will the crude cost? The Western Europe and America depend on it, as well as China and Japan. Putin says it in the West that Russia is a European country, but everyone understands that Putin is speaking from the point of view of the force. If Putin says that Russia is an Asian country, then we will be successful in the friendship with China. I think it is the major goal of the Russian foreign policy – to make these two directions come together, the European direction of the foreign policy should not work to the detriment of the Asian one. If Putin manages to do it, he will be the first president, who will unite the two ways of thinking in Russia.
Q: How do you think is it possible to achieve?
A: I think it will be enough to preserve the direction of the European policy that we have now, to make it more aggressive, more provocative, to insist on the equal Russia – NATO relations; Russia should have a right for its own rights in the area of the former Soviet Union and those countries, which were included in the zone of our interests earlier. We ought to insist on it not only politically, we should also preserve our culture and the economic presence. Russia is supposed to develop the precise position, when it comes to Japan and China - there should not be any romantic things here, which we can have in our relations with Europe, since Europe is not threatening us. We must do the things, which are good for the Russian Federation. If we do not want the Chinese poachers to kill our frogs in the woods of the Amursk region, then we must struggle with that. If we would like to have the Chinese come to Russia and help us to cut the woods, then we must cooperate The policy of “Russia is a big friend of China and China is a big friend of Russia” type is not supposed to be. We must do it otherwise, to make China take our interests into their consideration. We have to strengthen our borders with China for that. China is the only real adversary that can be interested in the detailed expansion against Russia – just because of the fact of overpopulation in China and the waste territory of the Russian southern Siberia.
Q: You mentioned the republics of the former Soviet Union. We know, what is going on there. Some of them want to render their territories for the deployment of the American army bases. Do you think it is a normal policy?
A: It is normal on the part of the republics, because their leaders deny the Soviet Union as an aggressive state. Russia is supposed to diplomatically impede in this respect, if not counteract – it is in our interests. How do we present ourselves as far as the USA is concerned? Now we are making it acknowledge us as our companion in distress: that we have terrorism too, that Chechnya is the same thing as the events of September 11. I am sure that as soon as America solves the question with Afghanistan, it will start criticizing Russia again. I think that Russia must have its own foreign policy, not aligning itself with anyone, trying to establish friendship with the certain countries of the European Union. USA made a big mistake, having pulled out from the ABM Treaty. This will lead to huge expenses, which are not going to bring anything good. It will be the crash for the administration of the American president. On the other hand, we must not forget the fact that the Baltic republics, Belarus, Ukraine, Central Asia, - we all have the common history. The Baltic republics of Estonia and Latvia cannot live without the Russian transit, without the Russian oil, gas, investments. We still can not get rid of the stereotypes in our politics. Why is Ukraine getting the Russian gas at the Russian prices that are a bit higher than the ones Belarus pays? Are we rendering the humanitarian aid? Or can we justify it, saying we are building the Unified State with Belarus, planning to introduce the joint currency by the year 2005? The people of Belarus will become the Russia people so to speak. But why shall we sponsor Ukraine? If I were the foreign minister, I would take a tougher position towards Ukraine. Russia is guilty of that, since we have created this situation, when any of our legal requirements are perceived by Ukraine and the whole world as our ambitions and wish to punish someone. Finland pays for gas, oil and timber materials; their hooliganism on the border is more of our corruption, when we allow to cut our forests.
Q: Who do you think is interested in it? The Russian officials?
A: I think that an official is not interested in anything. There are very few of those officials, who think for the welfare of his own country. I think the politicians must deal with it. There is a level of officials, who became the politicians - this is the level of ministers and their first deputies. There are the pure politicians – the president, the prime minister, the Federation Council. I think that Putin should elaborate Russia’s geopolitical doctrine, giving the priority for the interests of our countries.
Q: Do you think that NATO’s approach to the Russian borders is dangerous?
A: NATO has always been on the Russian borders. Turkey has always been a NATO member, and we did not have any problems with that. We should pay more attention to the fact that euro is getting closer to our borders, for example, to Finland. I do not perceive the NATO countries as our enemies, I do not stand against NATO’s expansion, I just think that Russia should look at not only the USA, or Germany, or France, Great Britain, but also at those countries that we border on. We forgot that we should individually work with Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, with the Baltic republics, Czech republic, with Ukraine and Belarus.
Q: Do you think that there is an opportunity to bring back our former allies?
A: I think we should simply treat them seriously. We have been blind for so long with the idea that there is Russia, there is Europe, there is America, and nothing else matters.
Vladimir Koptev-Dvornikov was interviewed by Ilya Tarasov PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov
Read the original in Russian: http://www.pravda.ru/main/2002/01/31/36401.html