Staunton, April 8 – Despite being warned by Andrey Amalrik in his 1969 book, Will the Soviet Union Survive until 1984? Western leaders ignored the possibility he pointed to and even as late as 1990-91, they treated others who predicted that the USSR was going to come apart. The result was numerous policy mistakes that cast a shadow to this day, Yury Mesik says.
That this happened, the Slovak analyst says, should not have surprised anyone. After all, people often miss “the most obvious things, and professionals do so more often because they focus on the status quo” (eurointegration.com.ua/rus/experts/2022/04/7/7137272/ in Ukrainian; idel-ural.org/archives/podgotovitsya-k-neizbezhnomu-napadenie-na-ukrainu-radikalno-uskorilo-razval-rossii/ in Russian).
“As a result of the inability of Western experts and politicians to foresee the disintegration of the USSR, a new reality arose and the West could not react in a timely and well-thought-out way, Mesik says. “The result was improvision and tragic failures, the consequences of which have continued for decades,” as now quite obviously in Ukraine.
According to the Slovak analyst, “the disintegration of Russia is just as inevitable; and if Europe and the West aren’t prepared for this, the results will be just as tragic.” It could really involve the emergence of a Yugoslavia with nukes. And “therefore, reflecting about the coming disintegration of Russia is not a distraction or the substitution of what is desired for what is.”
Instead, he argues, it is essential to focus on so that the West may be ready. The Russian Federation – and Mesik insists it should always be contained in quotation marks because it isn’t either Russian or a federation – will come apart because the Moscow-centric empire rests on ideology, coercion, and the sale of oil and gas abroad.
All three of these factors are weakening, Mesik says; and Putin’s war in Ukraine has only accelerated the process. Now, it is likely that the Moscow-centered state will not survive nearly as long as it appeared only a few years ago. Today, he suggests, it will disintegrate in as little as three to five years.
Areas Russia has occupied under Putin will return to their previous owners. Areas Stalin took like Kaliningrad will depart. Many of the non-Russian portions of the country will depart as there are far more non-Russians than Moscow admits or the West recognizes. But most important, Russian areas are likely to come apart into a number of Russian-speaking states.
Exactly what the new borders will be like is uncertain. There are too many unknowns in this algebra. But what is important is something else, Mesik says: “The West must now begin to analyze the possible scenarios of the disintegration of RF.” It must be prepared. At the very least, the current “taboo” on talking about this likely future must be lifted.