Putin visita Crimea (La Presse)

Russia’s Identity After Euromaidan: Goodbye Europe, Hello Asia

Since 2014, every year on March 18th, Russian people celebrate a new holiday: the Day of Crimea’s Reunification with Russia. It’s six years now since the peninsula was re-incorporated to its old Motherland, and the United States itself has allegedly acknowledged to Ukraine that “Crimea is lost“. The Kremlin has been trying to popularize the annexation as a success but the uncomfortable truth is that Russia won a peninsula and lost a country: nay it lost “the” country ⁠— Ukraine ⁠— the birthplace of the centuries-old Russian civilization. The impact of such loss will endure over time.

Russia’s European Reach is Lost

Six years after Euromaidan, Crimea is the last European thing left to Russia: Belarus’ position in the Russian world (Russkij Mir) is increasingly challenged by the unprecedented American superpower and by the ruling elite itself, hegemony over Moldova is at risk as well due to the ever-growing influence played by the European Union via Romania, and it is wise not to underestimate Turkey’s engagement in Turkic-inhabited Gagauzia and in other fields. Furthermore, the Orthodox faith is being weaponized by the West to divide et impera across the Slavic world.

Russia’s sole remaining bulwark in the Old Continent is Serbia and so it will be for some years, maybe decades, because the drama of NATO’s past intervention is still an open wound for many Serbs and the country is surrounded by a very hostile neighborhood. But Serbia doesn’t have the same importance of Ukraine: the control over Belgrade is useful to have a say in the Balkans, but the control over Kyiv concerns Moscow’s historic identity.

When Russia lost culpably in Ukraine in 2014, it lost a very important part of itself, the linking point between the Russian world and Europe, which represents a civilization to which Russia statesmen, somehow, have always looked at as a role model. The birthplace of Russian civilization was lost “culpably” because the Kremlin under-evaluated the existing warning signs and seemingly believed that the containment ended with the Soviet collapse: nothing more could go wrong in their view.

Western Objective: Use NATO to Push Russia Completely from Europe

The West’s final goal is to completely oust Russia from the Old Continent via the Atlantic Alliance’s and the EU’s enlargement processes and via color revolutions. Every single step of this strategy is described in detail in 1997’s evergreen masterpiece The Grand Chessboard. The book, written by the now-deceased American strategist Zbigniew Brzezinski, looks like a prophecy-powered text as it successfully predicted everything that occurred during the 2000s and the 2010s: from Poland’s transformation into a regional power and its anti-Russia key-role to the appearance of a hegemony-seeking Franco-German axis, from Ukraine’s incorporation in the West to Russia’s subsequent rapprochement with China.

Russia was Brzezinski’s life obsession and he was particularly sensitive to the Ukraine topic. He firmly believed that by depriving Moscow of its historic homeland, the place where everything started before the year 1000, the West would succeed in converting Russia from an Eurasian empire to an Asian empire. His suggestion turned out to be right: Crimea is the last European thing left in Russian identity, whose destiny is increasingly tied to the East ⁠— to Asia.

Russia’s Future Lies in Asia

In the aftermath of Euromaidan, the Kremlin tried to save what they could by annexing Crimea and sponsoring armed secessionists in Eastern Ukraine, the so-called Donbas, pursuing the “frozen conflict strategy,” something already successfully tested in Moldova and Georgia. But Russia’s intervention angered the West, prompting it to launch a sanctions-regime which is still in force. The economic warfare proved useless: Moscow replaced the West with the East by strenghening ties with Asia’s greatest powers, China and India in particular. The West didn’t cripple Russia, it just sped up the multipolar agenda.

While the EU is increasingly dependent on the US, even on energy issues ⁠— which is exactly what the White House hoped to achieve by driving Russia out ⁠— the Asian energy market is increasingly tied to Russia, which can offer competitive prices and stability, unlike Middle Eastern oil-and-gas exporters. The sanctions-regime was also the opportunity to focus the attention on the neglected Eurasian Economic Union, whose importance and GDP-linked potential have grown due to the recent free trade agreements signed all over the continent, especially with Iran and Israel.

Russia is gradually going back to its origins, to its natural dimension: Asia. Eurasianism and multipolarism have never been so mainstream in the discourse of Russian policy-makers, and the awareness of being a unique multi-nation country is also highlighted by the increasing role played by Islam and non-ethnic Slavs in society, politics and foreign affairs.

The sanctions-regime will not last forever: the EU-US axis is more and more aware of its uselessness, but the containment of Russia will. Now there will be the chance to de-escalate the tensions for a while, but no further mistakes are allowed. Shortsightedness and giddy optimism have turned the Eastern Europe and the Balkans from the lands of Pan-Slavism into bulwarks of Russophobia; this should serve as ample proof of the West’s undisputed potential in terms of money and ideology.

From now on, Russia has a historic task: to resume the Tsars’ Asian dreams of a corridor between Saint Petersburg and Mumbai. The Mediterranean isn’t the only existing warm water port, and furthermore the world’s future, just like Russia’s, lies in Asia.