Staunton, Dec. 20 – The Svobodnaya Pressa portal surveyed several Russian experts on efforts to revive a Moscow-centered empire (svpressa.ru/politic/article/356010/). Most were dismissive, saying that current Kremlin efforts were doing little more than driving the former Soviet republics even further away from Russia.
But one, independent Russian ethnographer Yevgeny Nikolayev, disagrees and says that a new state formation will appear as early as next year. Unlike the USSR, it will be based on a strong Russian state and will be “a Union of the True” consisting of places whose people support Russia as such (arbat.media/vaznoe-v-kazaxstane/territoriya-kazaxstana-mozet-stat-castyu-russkogo-mira-v-2023-godu-rossiiskii-etnograf-2320).
Among the places he suggests will be included are breakaway Transnistria, Nagorno-Karabakh, South Ossetia, and Abkhazia as well as parts of other countries, including the northern portions of Kazakhstan. “This will be a multi-tiered empire,” Nikolayev says, based on an economic union and genuine political neutrality.”
On the one hand, this is entirely aspirational as there are few signs that even these places have any interest in becoming part of a Russian-dominated empire. But on the other, it is a sign that even among Kremlin loyalists, plans for the future have been reduced in the wake of Russian defeats in Ukraine.
Now even imperial radicals like Nikolayev are not talking about the restoration of a state with the borders of the USSR but only one that will be able to include within its ranks entities that have broken away from other countries or portions of existing states that have large ethnic Russian populations.
To the extent that Nikolayev reflects the views of imperialists in Moscow, that may be one of the most important consequences of the heroic resistance of the Ukrainian army and people to the Russian invasion and one of the very best reasons for the international community to continue to support Ukraine in its fight for its freedom and ours.