Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Walesa Says Russia is Too Large and Should be Divided Up into 10 to 20 States

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 11 – During the Cold War, a French foreign minister famously observed that he liked Germany so much that he was glad there were two of them, a reflection of the fears of some that a united Germany would be too large to work comfortably with other European countries.

            Now, former Polish President Lech Walesa is saying something similar about Russia. He suggests that the Russian Federation needs to be subdivided into ten to twenty countries, with Russia being left with a much smaller territory and a population only about a third of what it is today.

            Unlike many who are now talking about a “post-Russia” future, Walesa does not cast his argument in terms of the right of nations to self-determination or even in terms of the possibility that portions of the Russian-speaking population there will see themselves as the basis for the formation of independent countries.

            Instead, he argues that the reduction in the size of Russia is necessary for international peace and stability as a Russian state the size of the current one will never fit into a stable international security architecture but instead be the proverbial bull in the china shop that will be given to threaten others and breaking things apart.

            Anatoly Nesmiyan, who blogs under the screen name El Murid, argues that such an outcome is “quite likely” as the current system is holding the country together only by terror and once the regime runs out of resources to use that weapon, the country will collapse and fall apart (

            At present, Russia has entered into “a state of permanent crisis, with one catastrophe following on another. In such circumstances, there is no sense in talking about reforms, development and progress” because at some point, the regime will not have the capacity to use terror and the country will collapse.

            Such an outcome is “extremely likely,” Nesmiyan says. Two things are obvious about this situation, both far more obvious than they were in 1991. On the one hand, the longer the current regime lasts, the greater the collapse will be; and on the other, the coming collapse will not be relatively peaceful but involve massive violence in all or part of the current territory.

            Russians need to recognize this; and they also need to recognize that all such crises invariably have “internal causes.” Blaming others is simply a way to avoid blaming those at the top of the Russian system who are really responsible. Tragically, however, even talking about such things in Russia today is taboo.

            That means that once again the disaster is approaching and few are talking about it, something that will only increase its violence, the number of victims, and the unpredictability of how things will turn out. That makes Walesa’s words important as an occasion to think about all this. Unfortunately, they are now being dismissed as the ravings of a Russophobe.

            According to Nesmiyan, there is no longer any possibility of avoiding this catastrophe. Instead, there is only a choice between the bad and the very bad; and the latter becomes more likely to less Russians are able to face up to this fact.


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