“By its very nature Eurasia is historically destined to comprise a single state entity.” – Nikolai Trubetzkoy, 1925
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has become a catastrophe for the Putin administration calling into question the capacity for Russia to be a great power within Eurasia and what future political leadership (if any) will Russia develop. The major setbacks and losses that Russia has suffered with its confrontation with Ukraine has prioritised small states among great powers within Eurasia. The political theology of Russian Eurasianism points to the cyclical changes of Russia and its destiny as a state entity. Ukrainian resistance with a counter-offensive against Russia has diminished Putin’s leadership and Russia’s prestige and influence within Eurasia. Creating ideological and strategic tensions and confrontations domestically in Russia and among nations within Eurasia impacting Russia’s stability and security as a nation state. Leading Russia to the prospect of regime change or even civil war and disintegration.
What was considered easy for Russia to take over Ukraine has become a disaster for the Kremlin with internal social disarray and disorganised statecraft. Putin not taking on the advice of the Russian intelligence agencies and military creating confusion around Russia’s priorities and strategy within Ukraine. Many Russian casualties caused by the ongoing conflict has resulted in social turmoil and resentment among many Russians towards the Russian government. The economic sanctions imposed on Russia is causing economic strain manifesting social discontentment under austerity, stagflation and privatisation. Successful targeted assassinations on certain figures that supported the Russian government and successful sabotage efforts from explosions to detailing Russia’s rail networks has made the security apparatus of the Russian government look incompetent to protect its own citizens. Ukrainian backed forces making incursions into Russia exposing the vulnerabilities of the territories of Russia. The conflict has exacerbated Russia’s demographic crisis fracturing Russia’s ethnogeography. The destruction of the Kakhovka dam has created an environmental and humanitarian crisis within a war zone jeopardizing the annexed territories that Russia took from Ukraine. Russia’s intervention into Ukraine has resulted further in Russia’s isolation and alienation within the international community. Not just the vilification of Russia and Russians but also genuine fears and concerns from nations within Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the Caucuses that could face a similar scenario of that of Ukraine from Russian imperialism and colonialism. Putin’s efforts to negate NATO expansion has failed with Finland joining and many considerations for others to join including Sweden, Moldova and even still Ukraine. Given the failure of Putin’s political leadership to manage the ongoing situation with Ukraine other Russian elites wish to take the reins of political power within Russia. The political theology of Russian Eurasianism demonstrates the current trajectory that Russia is on and what will be its fate.
The direction that Russia has taken with Ukraine has to do with its own unique place within world history. Eurasianism represents Russia’s own distinctive identity, civilisation and culture as a cyclical historical continuation of Russian survival between the West and East. The genesis of Russian Eurasianism was Russian mysticism going through the historical development of intellectual rigor of oriental and religious thought within Russia. The godfather of Russian Eurasianism was Pyotr Chaadayev with the contentious scandalous publication of his Philosophical Letters & Apology of a Madman placing Russia outside the confines of world historical development. That Russia was on its own historical development and trajectory that either could the West or East nor Europe or Asia could change. Chaadayev pointed to the influence of the Byzantine Empire that shaped Russian Christianity which caused the separation between Europe and Russia. The Russian Empire and its ruler Peter the Great being the absolute pinnacle of Russian civilisation and governance. What followed from there was a decline of Russian prestige and leadership with no sense of direction. Chaadayev conveyed the law of abdication to explain Russia’s wise humility to voluntary obey the ruler to lead Russia out of its isolation and backwardness. Which has been shown throughout Russia’s history and why Russia seeks authoritarian power. Chaadayev had split the Russian intellectual elites into two camps comprising of the Westernisers and the Salvophiles. The intellectual discourse was laid down onto the Russian people of who they are and what is Russia within this world. The ideology of Slavophilism/Pan-Slavism emerged from the intellectual rigor of certain figures which laid the foundation for Russian Eurasianism. Konstantin Leontiev was the frontrunner for Russian Eurasianism with his appreciation for the Byzantine & Russian Empires & Monarchies and his devotion towards Russian Orthodoxy (Byzantinism). Leontiev provided the intellectual architecture for the ideological vacuum to be filled by Eurasianism. Democracy, liberalism and nationalism doesn’t create political, cultural or religious unity only Empire & Monarchy does through its hierarchy. Leontiev saw that national autonomy was a democratic revolutionary mess creating spiritual decay. That culture is founded on transcendental principles and the objective value of ideas rather than nationalism being based on race.
The early 20th century saw the demise of the Russian Empire and the monarchy (Romanov dynasty) with the Bolshevik revolution following the aftermath of the first world war and the Russian civil war. Exiles from the former Russian Empire (white Russian emigres) came together in Europe to create an ideocracy for the Soviet Union hoping to emulate the Russian Empire. The idea that would transcend politics, religion and culture into a unified governed body would be Eurasianism. That geography, history, religion and culture determines politics as a natural progression of changing circumstances within the world. The founders of Russian Eurasianism were Nikolai Trubetzkoy, Pyotr Savitsky and Georges Florovsky along with many others who collaborated with the movement. The Eurasianists saw Russia as a civilisation of nomads (emigration of culture) as a historical continuation of the Mongolian Empire. That uprooted and shifted many cultural religious communities across Eurasia containing them all within one state entity. The Eurasianists saw Russians neither as Slavs nor Turanians but a people formed by various ethnic groupings inhabiting Eurasia. This greater Russian nationality was the central focus of cultural ethnic synthesis incorporating different cultures into their own. Konstantin Chkheidze provided the Eurasian analysis of the ethnic cultural nationalities problem on the territory of the former Russian Empire. State cohesion requires a number of substantive prerequisites including geopolitical unity, ethnic unity and cultural historical unity. Chkheidze viewed that all these necessary prerequisites were present in Russian Eurasia as an assemblic unity being the core ideal of Russian Eurasianism. The Eurasianists differed from the Salvophiles who were a new generation that wanted to guide Russia back to its former glory in a new light. Eurasianism made certain inroads into the Soviet Union with the Soviet secret service and with Lev Gumilev. Gumilev who collaborated with Savitsky renewed Eurasianism just before the disintegration of the Soviet Union. After the fall of the Soviet Union, Eurasianism was reformed and institutionalised as a guiding vision for Russia to become a Eurasian great power once more within Eurasia.
The representatives that reflect the Russian Eurasianist elites are Alexander Dugin who is financed by the Russian oligarch Konstantin Malofeev. Also, others include Alexander Prokhanov, Gennady Zyuganov, Vladimir Zhirinovsky and Alexander Panarin. Dugin along with many Eurasianists view Russia not as a multiethnic state nor as a state nation but from its very beginning as an imperial civilisational state. Eurasianism became prominent within Russia due to concerns of repeating Europeanization, Islamification and Asianisation. Eurasianism is integral to Russia’s national survive and political identity with great power competition within Eurasia. Eurasianism became paramount for Russia to establish its unique position within international relations, economic trade and global security. Eurasianism embolden and empowered Russia to reject liberalism and American led European-NATO negotiations on global security which became more relevant and significant with the deterioration of Western-Russian relations. The Eurasianists utilised Ukraine for Russia’s ascension as a great power within Eurasia against the Western liberal world order incorporating multipolarity within international relations. The Eurasianists built upon the dialogue of civilisations encouraging solidarity between nations within Eurasia against Western coercion. Dugin outlined a Eurasian Empire led by Russia to unite the great powers of Eurasia (Turkey, Iran, India and China) against American liberal hegemony. However, Ukraine has become a disaster for Putin and his inner circle struggling to find ways to deliver a convincing victory for Russia. Given such ambitious standards set by the Eurasianists for Russia to become a Eurasian great power within Eurasia among Russia’s rivals.
Imperial legacies inform great powers on their foreign policy, strategic culture and grand strategy. The great powers of Eurasia (Turkey, Iran, Russia, India and China) all have historical memory of their own Empires and civilisations that dictates their geopolitical and security interests within Eurasia. These nations pursuing great power status within Eurasia would further exacerbate confrontation against themselves rather than mutual beneficial cooperation despite Western intervention within the region. The political initiatives between these great powers within Eurasia (Turkey (Organisation of Turkic States (Pan-Turkism, Neo-Ottomanism, Pan-Islamism), Russia (Eurasian Economic Union & Collective Security Treaty Organisation), Iran (Axis of Resistance), India (Hindu Nationalism) and China (One Belt One Road)) are colliding against each other furthering the balkanisation of Eurasia. Russia’s conflict with Ukraine has disrupted Eurasian connectivity through the Northern Corridor shifting focus towards the Middle Corridor within Eurasia. Which will economically connect Europe, Turkey and China together from the Caucuses to Central Asia with the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route (TITR) at Russia’s expense. Energy security has become a priority for the EU designating Turkey as an energy hub connecting Central Asia to Europe. The strategic cooperation between Russia and Iran is only temporarily convenient to counteract Turkey’s great power ascension within Eurasia. Turkey resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan would bring the normalizing of relations between Armenia and Turkey. Opening up the Zangezur Corridor (which Iran & India oppose) connecting Turkey to Central Asia uniting the Turkish community and Islamic civilisation greatly diminishing the influence of Russia, Iran, India and China within Eurasia. Russia and Iran seek economic integration through the Rasht-Astara railway relying on Azerbaijan’s approval creating division between Turkey and Russia. Russia is economically reliant on Turkey for trade but can’t allow normalisation between Armenia and Azerbaijan leading to the normalisation between Armenia and Turkey further corroding Russia’s sphere of influence. However, Russia is more likely to favour the Turkey-Azerbaijan-Israel triangle (at the expense of Armenia & Iran) than risking a confrontation with Turkey. Escalating tensions between Azerbaijan and Iran has created strategic competition within the Caucuses which could result in Russia turning against Iran. Russia has drawn Iran into the Ukrainian conflict which the Turkey-Azerbaijan-Israel partnership will capitalise on against Iran. Israel strategically relies on Russia’s approval for operations (targeted strikes & assassinations) against Iranian proxies within Syria. Central Asian nations are reluctant to align with Russia due to the possibility of Western economic sanctions. They are more inclined to cooperate with Turkey, China and even the West to economically develop pushing Russia out of Central Asia. Both India & France have created contention over sending military aid to Armenia creating tensions among Turkey, Azerbaijan, Russia and China on how to engage with the EU & India (Western partner (QUAD)) and Pakistan (India’s rival and partner to Turkey, Azerbaijan, Russia and China). Efforts by Russia and China to normalise relations between nations within the Middle East to accept their diplomatic relations. Without resolving political economic problems (stagflation & narcoterrorism) and religious cultural divisions (among the Arabs, Turks, Persians, Kurds, Azerbaijanis and Assyrians) will not ensure Eurasian integration and security. The prospect of war within the Caucuses between many different factions is probable unless Russia makes negotiations and concessions towards the West & Ukraine. Returning the Northern Corridor back onto Eurasia rather than escalating the conflict further towards global nuclear war.
Russia’s invasion into Ukraine was not just an encroachment into European space but also into the Islamic civilisation and Asia which historically Russia has struggled to manage. Russia is being economically absorbed by Asia particularly China making provinces in the Far East such as Khabarovsk and Primorye no longer dependent on the Russian government. Russia being a part of the Islamic civilisation as well as a coloniser of it has historically demonstrated opposition against certain disgruntled Muslim communities (Crimean Tatars & Chechnya) which Turkey will support against Russia. Eurasianism to renew the imperial glory of Russia as a great power within Eurasia has isolated and alienated Russia from the regions it wished to influence. Putin and his inner circle to compensate the West over the cost of Ukraine to lift Western sanctions to avoid economic disarray (exemplified by Boris Yeltsin in the early 1990s). Returning the economic Northern Corridor back onto Eurasia with Russia finding its place within the European community. Will be meet by fierce opposition by the Eurasianists seeking to remove Putin and his allies from power either through the 2024 Russian presidential election. Or by force organising a coup or civil war against the traders that compromised the Russian Eurasianist dream. Resulting in the disintegration and balkanisation of Russia and leaving a power vacuum for Turkey or China to fill within Eurasia.
For an overview of Russian Eurasianism check out the article The Resurrection of Russian Eurasianism: https://www.transformingthenation.com.au/the-resurrection-of-russian-eurasianism/
For an analysis of Alexander Dugin & The New Right check out the article Alexander Dugin The Eurasian Occultist: https://www.dailyscanner.com/alexander-dugin-the-eurasian-occultist/
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