History's End

History will end only when Man does

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  • Wednesday, December 01, 2004

    The Russian Imperium

    This goal, of a revived Russian Empire, is what is driving the current Russian policy in the Ukraine, according to Austin Bay over at Strategy Page. In the article Austin explains the Russian aims, and how its Ukranian policy is a means to achieve them. An excerpt:

    A Russian bid to return to super-power status is the truly big story behind Ukraine’s rigged election.

    At the moment Russia is a European also-ran, a one-time giant with deteriorating clout. However, Russia, plus Ukraine, plus Belarus, plus Khazakstan is a geo-strategic formula for a global power re-born.

    This isn’t a new discovery. Before the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, U.S. analysts concluded that the communist leadership would spin off the Baltic and Caucaus Soviet Union. At the same time, however, they would try to keep or link the core empire strength: Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan (RUBK— pronounced “rubik,” as in the tricky, tough to solve puzzle called Rubik’s Cube.)

    This RUBK that he describes is what I would call a "laminar Empire", that is, layered imperialism, on a model much like US imperialism in South and Latin America during the 20th century. Rather than openly occupy countries, and have them become a part of "greater Russia", Putin intends to create a wall of tributary states along his border. This states will be lead by Russian backed leaders who will follow Moscows line when it comes to foreign and security policy, and will ensure that business conditions in their respective nations will favor Russia. This leaves Russia with the economic and political benefits of a conventional empire, while at the same time avoiding some of the military costs that go with it. The elites in the border nations will benefit from this as well, as they will be able to rely on Russian backing to maintain their economic and political dominance.

    No doubt the original empire will be that of RUBK, but I suspect that Putin will not leave it there. Eventually, after Russia starts to really benefit from oil sales, and the economy gets going again, he will start to solidify control in nations bordering Russia. If he can't get a country to fall under Russian control outright, he could incite more pro-Russian provinces in those nations to seccede, and form their own independent "republics", which just happen to have close relations with Russia.

    Ironically, the Chinese could use similar tactics to grab parts of Sibera and the Eastern Districts, forming their own little border states to add to China's version of modern empire. The strategy is sound after all, and with the right bribes EU indifference might be bought. This won't work for Eastern Europe for Russia, as the EU interests there are too strong. But China and Russia might be able to do so in Asia. I would very much like to find a map which shows the ethnic concentrations of Russian and Chinese people in Asia, to use as a template for estimating imperial ambitions of those two powers.

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