Friday, December 30, 2016

No Interest in Ruling non-Russians?

Writing at The National Interest, Doug Bandow makes a cogent argument that Putin's Russia is not the old Soviet Union, risen from the dead. To be sure, it is a would-be superpower but it no longer is the marketing arm of a internationalist ideology with broad, if superficial, appeal outside its borders.
After some 17 years in power the Russian leader’s only geopolitical booty is Crimea, long part of Russia. He also has gained influence over the largely forgettable Donbas, South Ossetia, and Abkhazia. That’s not much of a new empire. He has shown no interest in ruling over non-Russians. He apparently realizes that attempting to absorb large populations determined to resist Moscow’s rule would certainly be a losing game and likely be a disaster.
Of course Hitler swore he only wanted to unify and protect Germanic peoples, as he absorbed Austria, Alsace and the Sudetenland. Then he invaded Poland and kicked off WW II. History suggests an autocratic leader's appetite for territory can get out of hand.

However, beyond ethnic Russians left behind in former SSRs when the USSR fell apart, who would prefer to be Russian citizens? Essentially nobody. Given the absence of an 'evangelical' ideology like Communism, Putin's aims for Russia would appear severely self-limiting.