This article is concerned mainly with the array of moral, ethnic, and nationalistic questions that emerged as a result of the disintegration of the Soviet Union. Its claim is that the cause for the collapse of the empire was not so much its poor economic performance, rather the moral bankruptcy of which the people could no longer endure. Now Russia (and the West) must tackle, for example, the rise of nationalism in the new states; the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in Central Asia; the highly unstable new states and their drive to dominate Soviet troops stationed within their territorial boundaries. Russia's role as a great power is imperative in maintaining global peace and acting as a stabilizing force in the area, as it was throughout the Cold War era. Reemergence of morality in Russian politics is the main success of Yeltsin's government, yet what alarms the authors most of all is the immoral treatment of ethnic minorities within the breakaway republics. The West is urged to make relations with these countries contingent upon this issue. As for the future, though prospects for a comprehensive collective security structure encompassing all new states is not realistic, regional alliances based on mutual interests are likely to surface.
Vladimir Benevolenski is Assistant Director in charge of research planning at the Institute for USA and Canada Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, and Vice President of the Russian Science Foundation, a new nonprofit institution promoting social and political science research in Russia.
Andrei Kortunov is Head of the Department for Foreign Policy Analysis at the Institute of USA and Canada Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, and Chairman of the Board of the Russian Science Foundation, a new nonprofit institution promoting social and political science research in Russia.