Staunton, Sept. 9 – Those who seek to evaluate the potential for the disintegration of the Russian Federation tend to focus on the non-Russian republics or outlying Russian regions, Nikolay Petrov says, but the real threat to the territorial integrity of the country comes not from any of them but from Moscow.
“I do not believe we should treat the perceived desire of individual ethnic clans to separate from Russia as the main problem. Rather, in an overly centralized environment, the force that could trigger conflicts with the potential to break up the country is Moscow,” the Russian analyst says (theins.ru/politika/254329).
“It’s not that someone is willing or able to seek separation from Russia,” Petrov continues. Rather, “it’s that the Kremlin itself will destabilize the country by trying to control the ever-changing situation in a centralized manner,” ignoring local conditions and upsetting the current balances that exist.
Should Moscow do that, “a chain reaction” could occur with the regions and Moscow each reacting to what the other dose and thereby creating a situation n in which “the capacity of the Kremlin to react swiftly and appropriately is compromised” and there is the risk that if the center’s actions are inadequate or inconsistent, the situation may spiral out of control.
That is especially likely, Petrov argues in a separate article, under conditions of stress caused by the war in Ukraine and international sanctions precisely because problems in one area and the steps the center takes to solve them may affect other areas without the center being aware of that probability (theins.ru/opinions/nikolai-petrov/254483).
Consequently, steps that will solve an immediate problem have the potential to exacerbate others because the Kremlin does not understand these complex interrelationships and thus routinely addresses one area with actions that create bigger problems in others.