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The Future Defederation of Russia

June 08, 2022
Alexander Etkind
This is a summary of an article originally published by The Moscow Times, with the subheading: "All empires eventually fall apart. The Russian Federation is next."

The author, a professor of history at the European University Institute in Florence, writes:

  • “What happened to the Russian Empire? It disintegrated at the end of an imperialist war. What happened to the Soviet Union? It disintegrated at the end of the Cold War. What will happen to the Russian Federation? The answer is obvious, even if it saddens many.” 
  • “Almost all empires disappeared in the 20th century, in a process that has been called ‘decolonization.’ Empires were defeated by other types of state: national and federal. Contemporary Russia, a nation-state, calls itself a federation, like Germany or Switzerland, when in fact it is behaving like an empire in its hour of decline.”
  • “I am not calling for the collapse of the Russian Federation—I am predicting it, and that makes a difference. Again, the disintegration could have been avoided—it would have been enough not to start a war with Ukraine. But revanchism was stronger than caution.”
  • “The territories that belonged to other national entities before becoming part of Russia after the Second World War (East Prussia, parts of Karelia, the Kuril Islands) will leave the federation with undisguised pleasure. Ethnic and religious tensions in particularly complex regions such as the Caucasus may lead to new wars. With the collapse of the federation, social inequalities, a hallmark of Russia in recent decades, will increase further. The provinces producing raw materials will be richer, and other regions will be poorer. Enjoying freedom, their people will show new creativity. They will start trading in what only free societies can create.”

Read the full article at The Moscow Times.

This item is part of Russia Matters’ “Clues from Russian Views” series, in which we share what newsmakers in/from Russia are saying on Russia-related issues that impact key U.S. national interests so that RM readers can glean clues about their thinking.


Alexander Etkind

Alexander Etkind is a professor of history at the European University Institute in Florence.

The opinions expressed herein are solely those of the author. Pixabay photo free for use.