Kamil Galeev Profile picture
Dec 7, 2022 23 tweets 7 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
National Divorce

Within the next year Russia will spiral into a deep political crisis. There is a nonzero chance that it may scale up existing separatist tendencies leading to the breakup of the empire. In this thread I will outline a model of how this process could look like🧵 Image
Russia is the last European colonial empire that remains largely intact. It was a relatively small polity whose enormous territorial expansion started for real only in the 16th c. This time frame largely overlaps with the establishment of the first European overseas empires Image
Those who doubt colonial nature of Russia point out to how different it was from what is now seen as the epitome of British colonialism - the British empire. Indeed, Russian colonialism was very dissimilar from the Anglo one, but often strikingly similar to the Iberoamerican Image
We can understand Russia easier if we see it as an Iberoamerican-type empire that didn't break up yet. Russian Federation holding Siberia is not unlike Spain holding Mexico or Portugal holding Brazil

(You can get Eurasianism better if you see it as the Russian Lusotropicalism) Image
Parallels with Spain and Portugal can be helpful for modelling a potential breakup of Russia. As the inner structure of these empires are not dissimilar, the mechanism of their breakup may go in a similar way, too - starting from their trigger (a military defeat by a third power)
I would argue that a defeat by Ukraine would have greater effect on Russia than any defeat by France could inflict on Spain/Portugal. Ukraine was never seen within Russia as an independent power, only as a separatist province populated by the inferior (if related) bumpkins Image
Russian empire is held not only by force, but also by mythos. Which is:

1. Russia is a superior military power -> You won't beat it off anyway
2. There is no salvation for provinces except within Russia -> Without Russia, you will fall into the Stone Age, figuratively speaking Image
From the Russian perspective Ukraine is a rebel province. Therefore, the war with Ukraine is a test for the imperial mythos (= seceding province will fall into the Stone Age). If that doesn't happen, well, then we must throw you into the Stone Age to maintain the mythos Image
Territorial integrity of Russia is kept by the Imperial Mythos:

1. You can't survive without us
2. We can destroy you at any moment

These two assumptions keep the empire together. Both of them are being tested in Ukraine

(That's why Russia *must* destroy the infrastructure) Image
At this point belief in the assumption 2 is very much weakened. Ukraine did not only stand its ground (which very few believed in back in Feb), but is currently bringing war into Russia, making strikes on the Russian strategic bombers located very far away from the border Image
That makes any potential ceasefire a point bifurcation. It opens two scenarios:

1. Russia regroups, restocks, reattacks and wins -> Assumptions 1,2 are true
2. Russia fails to do so -> Assumptions 1,2 are false

The empire's fate depends on whether it can crash a rebel province Image
Now let's assume Russia failed to crash Ukraine and could not persuade its population it would be able to do so in the future. That can be enough to shake the faith in both assumptions of the imperial mythos thus triggering the process of disintegration
Now let's discuss a probable scenario of how the National Divorce could look like:

1. Most likely it will not be launched by any sort of oppositionaries/activists but by the already existing regional interest groups whose character may vary enormously from region to region Image
2. Most likely the National Divorce will not start in the ethic republics. People think ethnic separatism is likely to destroy Russia, therefore, it is very unlikely to happen. This is too obvious -> precautions are taken. It's more likely to start in unlikely "Russian" regions
3. Most likely the process will start de facto and then formalised legally much later, perhaps very much later. It will likely proceed in the form of local interest groups taking more power, pursuing more regional protectionism, etc. than making some open declarations
4. Where could it all start? Three most likely candidates

- All predominantly "Russian" -> few precautions are taken
- Independently rich -> They effectively pay others' regions bills rather than live on the handouts
- Strong regional elites only partially cleansed by Moscow Image
5. The process of disintegration is likely to happen in a few iterations. The less regions keep obeying to Moscow and paying taxes to it, the less motivation the other will have cost-benefit wise. Richer regions have more motivation to launch it than the poorer ones
6. Contrary to the popular opinion, the disintegration and the formation of new states is likely to happen on the regional, rather than "ethnic" or "racial" basis. It's highly unlikely that the disintegration goes along the ethnic lines
7. Historically speaking, instruments tend to evolve into the institutions. In particular, administrative borders tend to evolve into the national ones. Much like in the Latin America, the disintegration will go along the administrative, rather than ethnic borders
8. New states will likely look as a collection of N (N≥1) former Russian regions. Former administrative demarkation between provinces will turn into the national borders

Administrative borders becoming the national ones is Lindy
9. Ethnicity, race and culture is *not* enough for the new states to work out. For them to succeed they must be able to pay their bills. Ergo, the principle of economic clusters will be at least as important for defining their borders as the ethnic or cultural one Image
10. The key question is not the Caucasus or even Volga question. It is the question of Siberia. Siberia is the jewel in the Russian crown that pays the bills of the empire. Should it keep control over Siberia, it can easily win back everything else. Should it lose it, it is done Image
That should be enough to introduce the idea. I will elaborate on details in separate materials. End of 🧵

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More from @kamilkazani

Sep 25
The Rhodus Story

On a sunny spring day of 2022 someone transferred me 10 Ethereums. That was a lot of money. With this money I could do something big

So, I decided to do something interesting 🧵 Image
Not long before that, I wandered into an article «Germany and Czechia help Russia to build ballistic missiles Sarmat and Sineva with the nuclear warheads» (2017). A case study on the Krasmash missile producing plant, it posed some questions that analysts seldom ask:

🤔 Image
What was the article about?

The Krasnoyarsk Machine Building Plant (Krasmash) is one of two key intercontinental ballistic missile manufacturers in Russia. Krasmash produces and maintains the liquid-propellant missiles such as the ICBM Sarmat and SLBM Bulava Image
Read 13 tweets
Sep 22
Yes, certainly. Our decisions are primarily guided by impressions

1. Russian defeat makes an *impression* that one can hardly win a war of conquest anymore

2. Russian victory makes an *impression* that one absolutely can

The cost of (2) will be enormous
The first order effect is that it will encourage the wars of conquest, and encourage globally. There are perhaps few nations in this world that do not believe that a piece of their neighbor’s land belongs to them by right

There will be way more attempts for territorial conquest
The second order effect is that states will have to adapt to the now unsafe world. Even if their neighbors do not seem to plan a war of conquest right now, they may be considering it in the future. One must prepare for this scenario

You can say goodbye to the non-proliferation
Read 4 tweets
Sep 21
Why fund Ukraine?

1. This world consists of states

2. That are war machines optimised for war purposes

3. Allowing the war machines optimised for war purposes to make territorial conquests and get away with this, makes the world unsafe

The unsafe world will cost you more 🧵
4. Many in the US take their current material prosperity as granted

5. It is not

6. Unprecedented in the world history, it became possible only in the unprecedentedly safe world

7. When the world becomes less safe, you will have to say goodbye to the current prosperity
8. The unprecedented safety of this world is based upon it being dominated by a single war machine (US)

9. That has severely limited the incentives for other war machines to fight each other

10. The US made it very difficult for a war machine to annex a new territory

11. Effectively impossible to legalise such an annexation

12. And straight out impossible to cash out from it
Read 14 tweets
Sep 21
Even if we have the blueprints, executing their design may be difficult to impossible. What we lack is the:

1. Material culture
2. Knowledge ecosystem

these blueprints had been created within

They are essentially relics of a lost (alien and incomprehensible) civilisation
This applies to the seemingly mundane stuff. For example, even though Russian tanks are based on the Soviet blueprints, Russian tank barrels are of lower quality & durability than Soviet ones. Design may be the same, but details of the original production processes are lost
The nearly absolute reliance of the Russian war machine on the imported metal-cutting machines should be considered in the light of the qualified manual labour pool having shrunk and degraded
Read 5 tweets
Sep 20
On the chokepoints of the military production, I strongly recommend reading this. It gives a sufficiently good first introduction into the problem

No military industrial complex in the world can execute the mechanical design of weaponry other than based on the CNC technology*
Therefore, supply chain for the quality CNC equipment (including both mechanical and electronic components) being controlled by the US allies is of major and under appreciated strategic significance
* Exceptions exist of course, but they are less common and significant than one could presume. As a general rule, every or almost every economy has to deal with the constantly shrinking pool of the qualified manual labour -> alternatives gradually become impossible to execute
Read 4 tweets
Sep 18
I think that a military conflict between China and the US is highly probable. I also think that China will lose it. While the US hard power (& the quality of strategic thinking) may have substantially deteriorated since 1991, China:

1. Is much weaker
2. Won't catch up
China is overall much more backward in terms of technology & manufacturing than almost anyone in the US foreign policy establishment is ready to admit. Beijing knows it, DC doesn't

Which, again, shows how much did the American strategic thinking deteriorate since 1991
PS I believe that the end of the Cold War had a corrupting effect on the US strategists. With the real and credible threat gone, too many started exaggerating (or making up?) BS threats. Consequently, the skills and competences for dealing with a real threat have atrophied
Read 4 tweets

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