ArmInfo’s interview with Alexander Krylov, senior research fellow at the World Economy and International Relations Institute at the Russian Academy of Sciences, President of the Scholarly Society of Caucasus Studies, PhD in History
by David Stepanyan
Judging from the last event in Ukraine, we have got an impression that the destiny of the Eurasian Union initiated by the Kremlin and moreover the restoration of Russia as a superpower is being resolved just at the Kiev streets. Will you please comment?
Although Ukraine plays an important part, the future destiny of Russia, first of all, depends on the level of its successfulness in the matter of resolving its own local problems. I am confident, that if Russia successfully develops on the way of social and economic upgrading, it will have enough potential for effective neutralizing of the potential threats at the post-soviet area. If Ukraine transforms into Saakashvili's Georgia and starts playing a part of the anti-Russian ram at the post-Soviet area, in that case Russia will have numerous new problems. However, Ukraine will have more problems not because of intrigues or the disrupting work of the Kremlin, but because such a course will contradict its national interests and may launch such destructive processes which will make the most tragic scenarios possible. The destiny of Ukraine as an independent state and an entity of international law is being resolved in Ukraine at present.
How much possible is the opposition’s victory in Ukraine? What may it lead Ukraine to?
It is very much possible that the opposition forces will gain a victory in Ukraine, especially because of the unprecedented external pressure upon Ukraine. Undoubtedly, in that case they will have sharp confrontation of different political forces. Moreover, chaos and anarchy will appear in the country. The USA and the European Union will hardly be able to show such a large scaled aid to the radical supporters of the European way which will make it possible to settle all the problems of Ukraine as soon as possible. Although Georgia is smaller than Ukraine, nevertheless, even in Georgia we did not notice successful development and a breakthrough towards the bright future because of the power change. This became obvious to the Georgian society which has changed the course and abandoned the anti-Russian policy. If the "oranges" come to the power in Ukraine for the second time, the economy will nevertheless force them to establish normal relations with Russia sooner or later.
Is the state and territorial split of Ukraine possible?
The state and territorial split of Ukraine is not ruled out because of several reasons. Such a scenario is not ruled out because of the mass external interference in the local affairs of Ukraine, the growing incapability of its state machinery and the edge of local challenges. However, until there is no large-scale armed conflict of the opposing forces with a big number of victims, we still hope to preserve Ukraine as a single state.
The economic prospects of Armenia’s joining the Customs Union are not strictly clear. We scare the growth of prices for the goods imported to Armenia. What changes will it bring to Armenia in the military and political context?
It is very much possible that one may explain all the problems of Armenia by its aspiration to join the Customs Union.
Naturally, prices for some goods may grow and drop for others. The experience of cooperation of the three states within the Customs Union has given them the noticeable benefit. In this context, the Armenian government and business should be able to make use of the new opportunities and gain as much benefit as possible. But if the leadership of Armenia cannot resolve the issue and start blaming Russia for that, this will undoubtedly badly affect the nature of the bilateral relations including in the military and political sphere.
The legislative alterations in Russia that tighten the rules of the foreigner’s staying in Russia and that have stepped in since the beginning of the current year, touch on the citizens of Armenia too. Does it find room in the logic of Armenia’s integration in the Eurasian Union initiated by Moscow?
Russia is concerned about resolving of the problem of illegal migrants as soon as possible. By their actions the illegal migrants break Russian laws and create numerous problems for the authorities and ordinary citizens of Russia. The number of illegal migrants at the territory of Russia are several billion. However, the migrants which do not break Russian laws and legally live at the territory of Russia will not have additional problems. The movement of citizens and cargo within the frames of the Customs Union will take place by a simplified regime. This is one the true benefits which membership in the CU gives.
What is the reason of the sabotage attacks and skirmish at the Armenia-Azerbaijan and Karabakh-Azerbaijan borders? What does hinder Russia , as the key moderator of the Karabakh conflict settlement, to make efforts to stop these attacks?
The increase of frequency of sabotage attacks, skirmish and growth of the death cases at the Armenian-Azerbaijani and Karabakh-Azerbaijan borders is a result of Baku's consistent policy of pressure upon the Armenian party of the Nagornyy Karabakh conflict. Of course, I don't mean Azerbaijan's readiness to start a large-scale war. Increasing of tension is one of the measures directed at growth of pressure upon Armenia. The pressure is imposed in various forms: propaganda, diplomacy, military means. It is a whole complex of measures used by Azerbaijan for many years with a purpose to force Armenia change its stance regarding the Karabakh conflict. I think that one should not underestimate consistency and insistency of the policy of Azerbaijan's pressure upon Armenia, as many Western politicians and experts think. If the current military and political balance of forces does not change thanks to Armenia's membership in CSTO, Azerbaijan will not change its style. In this context, the tension of the last weeks at the Karabakh conflict area will decrease, but in some period of time it will again increase.
The purpose of such a policy of pressure upon the authorities and society of Armenia is to morally exhaust the Armenian party, so that to break the enemy morally and force him capitulate. This does not suppose settlement of the conflict with a help of force. Today the true escalation of the conflict up to the large-scale battle actions is hardly possible. This circumstance determines Moscow's and CSTO's reaction upon the events. The latter said many times about their principle position regarding inadmissibility of the Karabakh conflict settlement by means of force.
Today many superpowers say that they are not pleased with status-quo of Nagornyy Karabakh. Are there such geo-political configurations which may result in the final settlement of the Karabakh conflict?
Today there are many geo-political configurations and scenarios able to radically change the situation in the South Caucasus. The tendency towards complication of the situation in the South Caucasus is dictated by the growing instability and the possibility of involving the region in the conflicts of the Big Middle East. In particular, troops of the USA and its allies will be removed from Afghanistan in 2014. It is very much possible that this will result in activation of the radical Islamist forces, including in the South and North Caucasus. Possible changing of borders of the Big Middle East may also touch on the South Caucasus states