Staunton, April 19 – Several Russian politicians are urging that Moscow re-establish an administrative district on part of Russian-occupied Ukraine that would resemble the Tauride Gubernia which existed in Soviet times by including both Crimea and the adjoining regions along the Sea of Azov.
Oleg Tsaryev, the former speaker of the self-proclaimed Novorossiya parliament, says that he is confident that such an arrangement would bring “peace and order” to the entire region, and occupied Crimea’s Russian Duma deputy Mikhail Sheremet has made the same point, urging that the Tauride Gubernia be restored in its tsarist borders (nakanune.ru/articles/118717/).
They and other Russian officials have been encouraged to think in that direction by the application of Rozovki, a town near the border of the DNR, to join that region, something officials have suggested may be a good idea but that shouldn’t be undertaken while the war is still going on.
Nonetheless, the public statements of Tsaryev and Sheremet suggest that behind the scenes, Russians are planning to redraw borders within Ukraine as well as between that country and the Russian Federation, with those pushing these ideas convinced that a period of border changes is at hand.
Moscow political analyst Vladimir Kornilov is among those advocating a “go slow” approach as long as the fighting is going on not only because borders will be affected by the outcome of battles but also because the territorial division of Ukraine may be an important aspect of the negotiating process.
But there is another and perhaps more serious reason why Russian analysts for the moment at least are adopting a wait-and-see attitude, and it is to be found within the Russian Federation itself. Over the last decade, a plethora of Russian politicians has called for replacing Russia’s oblasts, krays, and republics with tsarist-style guberniyas.
Indeed, some have pushed that idea as a means of restarting Vladimir Putin’s still-failed plan to combine smaller non-Russian federal subjects with larger and predominantly ethnic Russian ones (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2014/07/window-on-eurasia-moscow-must-abolish.html and windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2017/02/will-moscow-disband-non-russian.html).
If Moscow begins to talk too openly and widely about creating guberniyas in Ukraine, some in Russia are likely to do the same in the Russian Federation, a development that almost certainly would trigger opposition in the existing non-Russian republics and a scramble for power among ethnic Russian oblasts and krays.