The Post-Soviet Snow Globe Has Sprung a Leak
Putin’s Ukrainian gambit might finally be putting an end to the Soviet Union
Since 1992, Russia has let the world know that it won’t tolerate any fiddling around in the affairs of the countries that used to be the republics of the Soviet Union. If anyone did anything Moscow didn’t like, heads rolled.
Russia’s failure this week to do anything to prevent the most recent fighting between Azerbaijan and Armenia demonstrates how weak Russia has become — a carload of its peacekeepers were also killed, and no response from Moscow.
As I wrote recently about Russia’s imperial aspirations, the 14 republics that gained independence from Moscow in the fall of 1991 were always considered by Moscow nothing but Russia’s colonies in the “near abroad.” This was the term that Moscow accepted after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
In the near abroad, countries were allowed to teach national languages and customs, but the fallout of being formerly part of the Russia-led Soviet Union meant that the leaders could not do a list of other things. They were supposed to refrain from passing laws prioritizing their national languages over Russian, for instance. Putin often whines about how Ukraine outlawed the Russian language. This is ridiculous, given that 50 percent or more of Ukrainians consider Russian their first language.
Tiny Estonia, fearing that its culture would become so diluted by pro-Moscow Russians who chose Estonian citizenship after the collapse of the Soviet Union, passed laws that to be officially employed, all citizens had to be proficient at an A-1 level. Tallinn, Estonia’s beautiful capital, gave people three years and free courses, and the Russian-speaking citizens protested and complained. They refused to acclimate because, after all, they were “proud Russians.”
Putin rattled his swords back then and even threatened to invade Estonia. What did Estonia do? They petitioned to join NATO.
One by one, the Baltic countries became members of NATO not because some local fascists had sick aspirations of marching on Moscow as Putin and most of the misinformed (I am being nice) Russians would have us…