Staunton, Nov. 29 – Ever more Russians are discussing what form a new Russian Empire should take, and a consensus has formed that it must be centered on the ethnic Russians rather than on some amorphous multi-nationalism and that it must include former Soviet republics to Russia’s west but not those in the Trans-Caucasus and Central Asia, Valery Kaplenkov says.
The Moscow political scientist says that none of the Russians want to restore something like the Russian Empire or the Soviet Union in that this would again undermine the special status of the ethnic Russians properly understood and threaten to tear about the new empire just as nationalisms did the previous two (iarex.ru/articles/83500.html).
Russians recognize that if they pursue the goal of becoming a nation state, they will reduce their country to the size and importance of Muscovy and might not be able to hold even that, Kaplenkov says. Thus, the issue before them is what kind of an empire they should form, what special role the Russians must have, and what the borders of this new state should be.
According to the analyst, “Russia has a unique change to combine in the future models of state arrangements of two kinds of statehood, imperial and national.” But for that to happen, “the geographic borders of the new Russian power need to be somewhat different than those which existed in pre-revolutionary Russia and the USSR.”
Commentator Sergey Karaganov has pointed out what should be common ground: the new Russian empire must not include either Central Asia or the Trans-Caucasus. Countries there should be “allies of Russia but no more.” And they should be told that they have no future inside a new Russian empire.”
If Moscow fails to recognize this and recognizes that it must never take back those parts of the former empires, Kaplenkov says, “Russia will turn into a chimera state, a parody of the USSR that sank into oblivion. And you will have to forget about such a formation having any Russianness at all.”
Instead, “Russia must and should expand geographically only in the most difficult, Western direction. NATO and the EU, in which the Baltic republics now are and in which Ukraine and some forces in Belarus dream of being, are not eternal. In our world,” the political scientist says, “there is nothing eternal as a matter of principle.”
No one in the 1970s “or even in the 1980s,” though the USSR would fall apart. But it happened. And everyone must remember that “the North Atlantic alliance and the European Union had a beginning and they will have an end. In their place likely will come other more local blocs instead.”
In the new Empire, “the territorial division dreamed up by the Russophobe Ulyanov-Lenin must be destroyed;” and there must not be “any national formations.” Instead, the new empire must be divided “exclusively on administrative-territorial units: regions or krays.” Non-Russians in the new empire must have no more than “cultural-historical autonomies.”
The concept of “multinationality” is out of date, the analyst says. What must replace it is “a single nation” within which other ethnoses live. “Russia undoubtedly is a multi-ethnic state,” but the Russians are the state-forming nation and they must define the state rather than allow its structure and purpose to be set by others.
Those who worry that the demographic situation of Russians won’t allow this need to recognize that a new Russian Empire has in principle an important source of more Russians in addition to an improved demographic policy. It can and must absorb eastern Ukrainians and eastern Belarusians who were Russians until 1917.