Why Russia will not collapse following the example of the USSR?

24 January, 11:10 AM
Kremlin (Photo:REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov)

Kremlin (Photo:REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov)

Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Volodymyr Ogryzko believes that Russia will collapse. But I don't think so.

During the traditional NV discussion "Ukraine and the World Ahead 2023", the former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, Volodymyr Ohryzko, was present among the guests and almost turned the discussion into a dispute. After listening to all the participants, he turned to them not with a question but with a remark, the essence of which can be briefly outlined: you are wrong, Russia will collapse.

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Volunteer and public figure Serhiy Prytula and co-owner of Nova Poshta Vyacheslav Klymov spoke in different words about the fact that the collapse of Russia is impossible, at least in the medium term. But similarly — to put in bluntly, disappointing for all people of good will — conclusions were sounded in the context of a new war, for which Ukraine and the world should start preparing for the very next day after the expulsion of the last occupier, the return of the occupied territories to the composition of Ukraine and, accordingly, our victory. Aggressive Russia will demand revenge on the same the happiest day for us. It will lick the wounds and start to recover for the next attack – whereas the collapse isn’t unforeseen – Mr. Ohryzko categorically disagreed with this. And the ex-minister is not alone in his protest. That means he and his associates also disagree with Admiral Rob Bauer, the chairman of NATO's military committee, who said: “Regardless of the outcome of the war, the Russians will have similar ambitions, and even if they lose the war with Ukraine, the threat will not disappear.” A similar vote of no confidence can be expressed to Boris Johnson, who in one of the recent interviews called Russia a big, proud, old country that will not fall apart. But he also has no doubts about the victory of Ukraine.

Boris Johnson called Russia a big, proud, old country that will not fall apart. 

This analogy is regularly mentioned by adherents of the inevitable collapse of Russia — they say that it will repeat the fate of the USSR, which it created for itself. However, such a comparison is false, as well as a literal mirror comparison between Putin and Hitler, and the current war of Russia against Ukraine with the Second World War. Boris Johnson pointed out the mistake without realizing it, calling Russia an old proud country that will not fall apart precisely because of this, because it was a factor that worked in 1991 to collapse the USSR.

Denying such statements and confidently predicting the collapse of Russia, Mr. Ohryzko appealed to one of the most popular and most frequently cited examples – George Bush Sr.'s speech on August 1, 1991 in the Verkhovna Rada of then-Soviet Ukraine. As the U.S. president, Bush first visited Moscow, where he participated in a summit with Mikhail Gorbachev, the first and, as time has shown, the only president of the USSR. And then in Kyiv, he warned Ukraine against declaring independence and warned of the catastrophic consequences of the collapse of the USSR. In political science, the speech was called the Chicken Kiev. Bush himself was criticized both in Europe and at home, in America. Three weeks later, Ukraine declared independence. By the end of 1991, the Soviet Union was legally collapsed. It was considered a monolithic warrior empire, but it turned out to be a colossus on clay feet.

Exactly. The Soviet Union collapsed with the direct participation of Russia, at its irresistible desire. No matter how it sounded, but Russia also wanted to join the parade of sovereignties and leave the USSR. It happened as expected.

I saw what happened next, but did not always understand and wasn’t aware of the whole world. It is unlikely that the world should be accused of political blindness: in Ukraine for three decades, the politically blind and ordinary citizens either did not see the aggressor in Russia, or played along with the aggressor and worked for him. But if you go back to the very beginning of the 1990s and look more closely, you will see: Russia in the USSR did not even have the conditional, minimal subjectivity that the so-called union republics had instead.

What was Kyiv? The capital of Soviet Ukraine. What was Tbilisi? The capital of Soviet Georgia. What was Tashkent? The capital of Soviet Uzbekistan. And what city was the capital of the RSFSR, the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic? The first answer is Moscow. But at the same time, it was the center of a much larger state entity – the huge Soviet Union. In fact, the USSR dissolved Mother Russia within itself. The union reduced it to the strange and embarrassing status of some kind of union republic. Union – to whom, to herself?

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Boris Yeltsin, the leader of the Russian Soviet political opposition, straddled this horse at one time. He left on it. After all, his main opponent, Mikhail Gorbachev, crawled out of his skin to keep the Union., which was already bursting at the seams, catching fire in the Caucasus, the Baltic countries and Ukraine.

But in Soviet Russia, the same RSFSR, everything was quiet, calm. Not a single subject of this Soviet country wanted to leave it. Later, the Ichkerian rebellion started – the first and only precedent of the armed struggle for independence in the Russian Federation. They were demonstratively drowned in the blood, Ramzan Kadyrov became the main Gauleiter, and on this topic the collapse of Russia was closed.

So Yeltsin, speaking in modern language, was swinging the situation in the direction of Russia's independence from the USSR. Those whom he called dear Russians already liked the idea during his presidency. They wanted to leave the USSR as much as the rest of the republics, because the goal was one: it is too much to feed all the moths: we will separate and feed ourselves. Nostalgia for the USSR has become a trend since the mid-1990s due to the disappointment of dear Russians in their own independence. And here Putin entered the scene with ambitions to expand the good old Russian Federation to the scale and borders that, in his opinion, were unjustly lost.

So, at the time of Bush Sr.'s scandalous Kyiv speech, Russian sentiments were similar to Ukrainian ones. The party leaders sought to preserve the Union so much that they even went to the August putsch and accelerated the destructive processes. Active citizens sought to get rid of the armed USSR, so Russia joined in its destruction. And here is the reason for its collapse, unexpected at first glance.

Is it possible to repeat something like this in today's Russia? The answer is no. Because after the signing of the tripartite agreement in Bialowieza Pushcha in December 1991, the RSFSR turned into the Russian Federation, keeping in its composition all the territory, regions and districts that were part of Soviet Russia. Annexed territories were conquered not in the 1920s, but under Tsar Batyushka. Kuban and Don, despite Ukrainian dreams, do not want to separate.

Buryats, Bashkirs, Tatars, Khakassians, Evenks and other crowd who make up the population of Russia are oppressed by centuries of assimilation and cannot see their existence without handouts from the federal budget. Propaganda has been working fruitfully for a long time to suppress any desire to destroy the Russian Federation from the inside. The Russian Federation left the Soviet Union. And the Soviet one is from Tsarist Russia, which fought in 1917-1921 for the territories of Ukraine and Belarus, for the Caucasus and Central Asia, and grew from them. However, most of the territories are royal patrimony. Here it is, the old and proud state – Boris Johnson had it unbreakable in his mind.

I think the example is eloquent. It has been said more than once: only Russia can end the war – if it wants to. In the same way, Russia can only disintegrate if it wants to. So far, the desire to separate and live independently behind the threshold has not been noticed.

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