By Paul Goble
Like his Soviet predecessors, Putin has nothing to offer the peoples of the Russian Federation except repression and Russification; and because that is so, Gasan Guseynov says, the Kremlin leader launched his war against Ukraine lest the nationalism his own policies have produced spread to the Russian Federation and threaten its survival.
The Paris-based Russian historian bases his argument on the work of Helene Carrère d’Encausse who 45 years ago wrote L’empire eclate, which predicted the demise of the USSR. Guseynov says her analysis of the USSR then applies with equal force to the Russian Federation now (rfi.fr/ru/россия/20230716-трудноскрываемый-порыв-или-самоубийство-империи).
In her book, Carrère d’Encausse focused on the way in which Moscow’s attempt to combine empire and modernization was doomed, an attempt that the Putin regime is continuing with an equal lack of success. “Having declared itself the heir of past Russian empires,” he says, “the Russian Federation has left itself with only two functions – as an assimilator and rapist with respect to its former colonies.”
Her book on the then-looming demise of the USSR explains much of the looming demise of the Russian Federation, especially because the Putin regime consists of “an even more primitive and ignorant generation” than the ones that ran the Soviet Union after the death of the revolutionary one.
Carrère d’Encausse also predicted many of the details of the current war in Ukraine. Putin thought he had suppressed nationalism within the Russian Federation when he crushed Chechnya. When he discovered that he hadn’t, her analysis suggests, he had no choice within his understanding but to increase repression and invade Ukraine.
Her analysis, Guseynov says, helps one to understand clearly that “Putin’s people launched the war for the recovery of Ukraine to the former empire precisely in order to prevent the spread [of similar kinds of nationalism] within the Russian Federation itself,” something that will prove fatal.
The war in Ukraine which Putin is using all too obviously to destroy opposition within the Russian Federation ethnic and otherwise delays this process, on the one hand, but accelerates it on the other by highlighting the same fundamental contradiction that the French analyst pointed to 45 years ago.