The China Factor, Uprising Of Regional Elites: How Russia Can Fall Apart16
- 1.02.2023, 15:22
Russia's failures in the war against Ukraine have actualized talk about the possible collapse of the country. Ramzan Kadyrov publicly admitted that he would like to see Chechnya independent, and representatives of Koenigsberg (Kaliningrad region), Ingria (St. Petersburg), Ural (Yekaterinburg), Siberia (Novosibirsk) and Kuban (Krasnodar Territory) announced the start of an online referendum out of the RF. Representatives of the Russian subjects said they were determined to preserve their culture, as well as stop being cannon fodder for the Kremlin in numerous armed conflicts.
The Charter97.org website looked at the possible scenarios for the collapse of the Russian Federation, as cited by experts.
Map of free post-Russia states
Russia, the concentration of splits
Experts draw several scenarios for the disintegration of the Russian Federation. Some believe that everything will start with a civil war.
“When Russia loses the war in Ukraine, it will inevitably slide into a civil war. Yes, and the change of power in Russia will definitely turn into a civil war or a third Chechen war, or the fascist population of the Russian Federation will demand more blood in search of those responsible for their defeat in the war with Ukraine. So, when a civil war starts there, the process of disintegration of the Russian Federation will also begin,” political strategist Taras Zahorodny believes.
“If you look at Russian history, there were moments when in Russia its inhabitants said “enough”, when there were revolutions, uprisings and civil wars. So I think that this, so to speak, retotalitarianization of Russia has a restricted time limit, given economic conditions, growing public discontent and regional differences,” said political scientist Janusz Bugajski, senior expert at the Jamestown Foundation.
There are many conflicts within Russia itself, the Soviet and Russian theoretical physicist, academician, Nobel Prize winner Vitaly Ginzburg points out.
“Russia is a concentration of splits. A nation with a split soul. Over the past century, the problem of unity has several times become decisive for the fate of the country and, in fact, has always failed. Let it be ambiguous, veiled, but a collapse,” said Ginzburg.
Local elites will try to play an independent game
Even the former chief ideologist of United Russia, Sergei Markov, called for the collapse of the Russian Federation.
“Military actions can spread to the territory of the Russian Federation with the threat of occupation of the country, dividing it into several parts up to the collapse of Russian statehood or the liquidation of the Russian Federation as an independent state in general,” Markov said.
The head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, Andriy Yermak, believes that the Arab countries can destroy Russia like the USSR.
“In 1986-1987, the Saudis managed to bring down oil prices, and this forced the Russians to end the war in Afghanistan. And then the Soviet Union collapsed. This was, of course, one of the reasons for the collapse of the Soviet Union, but a fundamental one. And the Russians are well aware of this. They are trying by all means to prevent such a development of the scenario,” Yermak said.
Former commander of the US Army in Europe, General Ben Hodges, also considers a possible collapse of Russia. According to him, the leadership of the Russian Federation is experiencing a crisis of confidence, and the weaknesses shown during the war with Ukraine are likely to lead to the beginning of the collapse. The collapse of a country that encompasses more than 120 ethnic groups may be gradual, but it may also turn into an uncontrollable process.
“If we do not prepare for this possibility, as we did not prepare for the collapse of the Soviet Union, it could create huge instability in global geopolitics,” Hodges said.
Ex-deputy of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine and member of the Ukrainian delegation to PACE Boryslav Bereza believes that manifestations of separatism in the Russian Federation are strongest in Tatarstan, Dagestan and the Republic of Sakha.
“Most likely, the Kremlin will try to buy the local elites, but the elites see Moscow's weakness and will try to play an independent game. Instead of being vassals of the Kremlin, they want to be suzerains themselves and control their lives,” the politician said.
Russia will become a client state of China
Russia's large eastern neighbor China could take advantage of the country’s collapse.
This opinion is shared by Alexander Motyl, a professor of political science at Rutgers University in New York.
“The main candidates are Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, Chechnya, Dagestan and Sakha. If Russia survives these upheavals, it is likely to become a client state of China. Otherwise, the map of Eurasia will look completely different,” notes the professor.
The fact that China will take advantage of the collapse of the Russian Federation, said a security expert at the authoritative think tank Hudson Institute and a former adviser to the British Ministry of Defense Luke Coffey. According to him, Russia and China are competing with each other for influence in Central Asia, and this rivalry will gain momentum.
Historian, Ph.D. Grigory Riy said that China could lay claim to Siberia and the Far East.
“This will allow the PRC to enrich not only territorially and with minerals, but also will open access to the Arctic Ocean, the ice cover of which is decreasing every year and the struggle for resources of which is still ahead,” said the historian.