Putin’s Extensive Imperialism Leading Russia Into A Dead End – OpEd


Having no project for the future, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has sought to find one in the past; but he has so distorted that past for his own reasons that he fails to see that the extensive imperialism he has adopted will inevitably lead Russia toward disaster, Anatoly Nesmiyan who blogs under the screen name El Murid says.

Only an intensive focus on Russia itself has any chance of saving the country, the commentator continues; but selecting such a course is beyond the limited capacity of the current rulers of the Russian Federation; and so escaping from the current course will be possible only under Putin’s successors (krizis-kopilka.ru/archives/101927).

Empires differ from nation states in many ways, El Murid argues; but “the key distinction is to be found in their development strategies.” Empires “develop through extensive expansion of territories,” a pre-industrial approach, while nation states “focus on the development of what already exists, territorial seizures having become irrelevant.”

Abandoning the imperial path of development, he continues, will be difficult; even attempts in that direction will be hard. But unless they are made, Russia will degrade. “Unfortunately, Russia’s current leadership is extremely primitive in intellectual terms and therefore is following the path of least resistance,” one that rejects focusing on the nation.

In fact, the leadership of Russia now consists of “’nomadic bandits,’” to use the term developed by US scholar Mancur Olson, El Murid says, people who want to extract as many resources as they can and then occupy new territories in order to be able to extract resources from new victims.

Such an approach is cheaper, such bandits feel; and they are right until the degradation in their own territories reaches a point where the costs rise beyond anything they can imagine. Putin and his team don’t understand that. One can only hope that some who come after him will and will take steps in the right direction.

Paul Goble

Paul Goble is a longtime specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia. Most recently, he was director of research and publications at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy. Earlier, he served as vice dean for the social sciences and humanities at Audentes University in Tallinn and a senior research associate at the EuroCollege of the University of Tartu in Estonia. He has served in various capacities in the U.S. State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the International Broadcasting Bureau as well as at the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Mr. Goble maintains the Window on Eurasia blog and can be contacted directly at [email protected] .

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