Western countries consider Russia under President Vladimir Putin as an expansionist nation trying to reclaim its Soviet-era glory. On the other hand, Russian authorities have accused the West of trying to break Russia up into pieces. But Russia may be at the risk of crumbling into pieces even without any Western interference, reports The Economist.
Putin has reversed federalism in Russia
The Soviet Union collapsed because it had overstretched itself and run out of money. The local leaders saw no benefit in being part of a bankrupt nation. Many regions such as Tatarstan, Siberia and Ural had declared their “sovereignty” at the time. But the then Russian President Boris Yeltsin promised these regions “as much sovereignty as they could swallow” in exchange for staying with the Russian Federation.
However, Vladimir Putin has reversed federalism in Russia, turning it into a centralized state. He has imposed “presidential” representatives for each region, eliminated regional elections, and changed the way tax revenues are distributed in Moscow’s favor. In short, Russia of today is like a Khanate where local representatives have been given a license to rule by the chief Khan in the Kremlin.
The primary job of the Kremlin-appointed presidential representatives is to bring votes for Vladimir Putin. In exchange, they are granted freedom to rule the way they want, plus a share of oil revenues. Vyacheslav Volodin, Putin’s deputy chief of staff, recently said, “No Putin, no Russia.” If Putin goes out and Russia runs out of money, Chechnya would be the first to break off, says The Economist.
Russia’s collapse will be the worst nightmare of the West
The Russian economy is in dire shape ever since Western countries imposed economic sanctions over its annexation of Crimea. The exit of Chechnya will have a huge impact on neighboring Dagestan. It could be followed by Tatarstan declaring itself an independent Khanate. Siberia could revive its own sovereignty, while the Ural could form a republic.
The collapse of Russia will be the worst nightmare of Western countries. Who will control Russia’s vast nuclear arsenal? Even though Moscow would remain the command center, it would be very difficult to secure nuclear weapons and missiles spread across the Russian Federation. Russian politicians are already worried about a possible disintegration. That’s why Moscow recently imposed a law that makes “incitement of any action undermining Russia’s own territorial integrity” a criminal offense.