How the war could lead to the break up of Russia
Freddie Sayers meets political scientist Sergej Sumlenny
As the war in Ukraine has become more entrenched, there has been much discussion of the small Eastern European states which might be annexed into the Russian Federation. South Ossetia is now holding a referendum on whether it wants to rejoin Russia and there’s talk of Transnistria and perhaps even Belarus being absorbed by the Federation. Many fear that invasion of Ukraine is only the start of wider territorial ambitions for Russia.
But what if the opposite is true? Sergej Sumlenny is a Russian-born journalist and political scientist who predicts that, within 3-5 years, Russia will break up into a group of independent states. He argues that Russia’s many ethnic states are perfectly poised for secession, some with long histories of agitation and others with a newfound resentment of Moscow in light of the war.
Like what you’re reading? Get the free UnHerd daily email
Already registered? Sign in
He talked Freddie Sayers through how the Russian Federation could come to an end…
I have to agree with Freddie on this one. The speaker provides an interesting perspective but he seems to be a bit unrealistic.
If Russia splits apart it will likely be a messy affair. I’m not convinced every new country that finds itself in possession of nukes will give them up willingly in return for Western assurances of economic support. I also suspect there will be ethnic rivalries between some of these new countries. There’s also the problem of central Russia which, as the speaker noted, currently enjoys a privileged lifestyle but will be left with no natural resources in the event of a breakup–why would they willingly give up their current situation without a struggle?
Great interview, though. Until I saw that map I didn’t fully understand the ethnic diversity within Russia.
It happened in 1917, and again in 1991. And very soon people in both Ekaterinburg and St Petersburg are going to be asking themselves one question: “do those idiots in Moscow know what they are doing?”
Given the events of the last seven weeks, the answer will be a resounding “no.”
Looks like the Muscovy that began in the 13th C. is about to go under for good. But if the best model you ever came up with was something dreamed up by Louis XIV in the 17th C., well, what did you expect?
This guy is an anti-Russia fanatic, probably looking for a new job. Just check out his Twitter feed. Not the most reliable of sources to interview.
There’s a lot of criticism and conspiracy theories when it comes to umbrella organisations, such as the EU or the Russian federation, but is dismantling all of it something that humanity can afford? What with all kinds of global problems, such as AGW, wars over resources (including water and food), environmental degradation.
This anti-Russian fanatic says that Russia acquired all those regions ‘the day before yesterday’, ie in the 16th and 17th centuries. Please, look at the map of Europe in those days. Imagine, someone making the case that a return to things like the Kingdom of Naples, the Duchy of Brunswick-Lüneburg and the County of Aragon would be a good thing.
He’s not only forecasting it, he wants it to happen, he actively pushes for it. I hope he’s wrong and I hope he doesn’t succeed, because it would be an absolute disaster for that part of the world, and the whole world at large. It would de facto be a return to medieval times.
Or maybe Sergey thinks that the US would do a better job of running the whole thing. A USSA perhaps? As long as he has a job in it, of course. Preferably in some office in the West, far away from the rabble.
Yes, and war in Ukraine is an even worse thing–but it has happened.
You’re confusing whether it’s a good idea for Russia to break apart with whether it will. It happened twice before in the last century, and the same forces are still present. Indeed, it was war that CAUSED the two earlier breakups.
Russia is no longer a viable country when Volodin says: “without Putin, there is no Russia.” Putin has created zero real institutions since he came to power, and destroyed all that existed before him. Now war will shatter the country once again.
I understand why people on the extremes considered Russia–and now Putin–as some kind of alternative to bland Western reality. The same thing went for Che and Trump.
But looks like another Great White Hope is about to go down for the count–along with his country.
The USSR broke apart…not Russia.
Never heard of Chechnya, then.
It would surely require the complete and utter breakdown of the power apparatus in Moscow for such a breakup to occur? Didn’t hear a mention of China’s likely role in such an eventuality…
Collapse of the RF would have significant human cost, and the satellite republiks would no doubt collapse as supply and export logistics fail.
This is not a rosy picture in my mind, and it would be bucking the trend towards a more globalised governance. How long before another union would form? And where and how would the power and wealth coalesce in that union? Would there be benevolent leaders and a proud revival of lost cultural freedoms?
The “complete and utter breakdown of the power apparatus in Moscow” occurred twice in the last century. And Putin has far less legitimacy than either the Romanovs or the Communists.
If he fails, Russia has nothing to hold it together.
I don’t disagree with the idea at all, it’s just hard to imagine such a total breakdown. Terrifying
The Russian Federation’s constitution is much the same as our unwritten constitution except that it imposes “Respect” for the government.
Different languages and cultures can be witnessed in countries – and areas within countries – throughout Europe but many would not be able to prosper if they stood alone.
Despite the rosy picture painted by Sergei Sumlenny in this interview, I feel sure it would be the same within the Russian Federation.
Putin will have a coronary if he hears about this
Join the discussion
To join the discussion in the comments, become a paid subscriber.
Join like minded readers that support our journalism, read unlimited articles and enjoy other subscriber-only benefits.Subscribe