Thursday, January 27, 2022

Moscow Now has Nothing to Offer Former Republics but Force and Intimidation, Shelin Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Dec. 7 – Lenin was able to reconstitute an empire centered on Moscow by recognizing the state formations that many of the non-Russians had won in battle during the Russian civil war and promising them a brighter collective future, Rosbalt commentator Sergey Shelin says.

            Putin is not prepared to recognize these state formations but rather wants to eliminate them and thus is offering the former union republics nothing but “force and intimidation,” a means that may allow him to retake some of their territories for a time but only at the cost of a new round of imperial devolution (

            Tragically, Shelin continues, this is not something Vladimir Putin and many Russians understand. Instead, they prefer to blame five things for the demise of the USSR rather than focusing on the fundamental factors, including a decline in the use of force and the bankruptcy of its promises.

            Today, when Russians are asked who or what was to blame for the disintegration of the USSR in 1991, they blame the Beloveshchaya “conspirators,” the power aspirations of republic elites, the failings of the Gorbachev regime, the mistakes of Lenin, and the failure of Russian power to come down on all this and prevent the empire from falling apart.

            All of these are false in whole or in part, but the failure to understand that what Lenin did restored and then saved the empire rather than set the stage for its ultimate demise is perhaps the most serious because it means that there are many in Russia who somehow believe that everything can be reversed and Moscow can again dominate the entire former Soviet space.

            Given that the Kremlin has nothing to offer them beside subordination based on force, Russians should not be surprised that others will resist successfully or not and that no new empire is going to arise that will have any chance of lasting as long as Lenin’s did, Shelin suggests.  

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