Is Russia’s imperial dream really over?

The differences and similarities between the imperial histories of Russia and the west can help to explain how the world powers have ended up where they are today, explains Vladislav Inozemtsev

Wednesday 03 April 2019 10:53 BST
Russia’s continued strength on the world stage has surprised some observers
Russia’s continued strength on the world stage has surprised some observers (Getty)

The idea that Russia was, for centuries, an empire is by no means new. Nor is the belief that it remains one even now. Knowledgeable historians calculated that it was once the greatest empire in human history, if one takes into account both the territory it controlled and the timespan its domination lasted.

Adventurous political analysts have argued that in recent times Russia is inclined to regain its imperial powers. As Zbigniew Brzesinski, the former national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter, put it in 1997: “without Ukraine, Russia ceases to be a Eurasian empire … however, if Moscow regains control over Ukraine, Russia automatically again regains the wherewithal to become a powerful imperial state, spanning Europe and Asia.” The annexation of Crimea is apparent evidence of this process.

Yet many observers believe the present “empire” (ie the Russian Federation) might itself collapse once more, dissolving into different parts. Some politicians hope that it will.

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