Putin’s War: Mother Russia, Eurasia’s Demographics and China’s New Silk Road

I have elsewhere discussed what I think is the nature of a Russian “Octopus” state and its unique form. From that analysis I think it probable that Putin’s War – the invasion of Ukraine – is primarily caused by the drive to secure state assets (both Ukrainian and Russian) owned or entangled with Putin’s FSB/oligarch/mafia system which masquerades as a state.

However – there are other, at least marginally relevant reasons for the war, some of which make for good propaganda and others of which might be said to be the national interests of a normal state.

The Scope of China’s New Silk Road

Eurasia’s demographic challenge to a Slavic Russian Christian state, the call of a Mother Russia destined to restore an ancient order dating back to the Atlanteans, and the expanding power and influence of China into Eurasia, prize of the coming century, and site of a new world order centered in a Greater Eurasia from which the West would be all but excluded.

Currently, Russia is helplessly trapped in its identity as a Eurasian middle power and as such, its future is bleak and weak, dominated by superpower China – unless it can rapidly expand outward to regain its Soviet Empire.  After smaller moves on the chessboard, redesigning the Russian concept of citizenship, nailing down Chechnya and annexing Crimea, Putin begins Russian reexpansion in earnest with reconquering Ukraine.

Three questions – among others – on Putin’s mind:

  1.  Can he preserve and expand the power and influence of a Russia in which Russian Christian Slavs maintain ethnic dominance over other ethnic groups?
  2. Is such a Russia destined to create a new world order reflective of the prophetic teachings of a philosopher – Aleksandr Dugin – said to be Putin’s Brain?
  3. Can Russia dominate or at least balance China in an emerging Greater Eurasia or – as all signs indicate – will China assert itself as the singular head of a New World Order of which it sees itself the sole author?
Statue of Mother Russia – The Motherland Calls

1. Russia is dying as an ethnic nation-state, and has been dying for some time.  In Why Ukraine Matters To Russia: The Demographic Factor,  we learn a great deal about the consequences of this fact, and we also learn how far-seeing Putin has been.  He has long since moved to promulgate a multinational non-ethnic concept of Russian citizenship which will allow Russia to reabsorb the millions of Muslim and their cultures which largely constitute Central Asian population.

The reason Putin hates “Nazism” so much is not so much because of the Nazi invasion of Russia in WW 2 but because groups which adhere to Nazism are racist. Nazism fosters everywhere a preoccupation with ethnic-based nationalism which would of course be a giant barrier to absorpion within a multinational “Russian” identity/citizenship.

Putin knows full well that Ukraine’s nationalism does not arise from its Nazi-style far right, but is history-based and anchored in the international states system and the right to self-determination by self-identifying ethnic groups.

Such self-determination by no means entails beliefs about ethnic or racial superiority such as those espoused by Nazism and its current adherents.  However, behind the facade lurks the dark truth that Putin’s so-called “multiethnic” state/citizenship will – as it always has – mean de facto maintenance of a privileged, powerful and dominant Russian ethnicity.  All other Eurasian ethnicities will find themselves trapped in a brutal embrace – think Chechnya (and the Tatars, etc) – by a Russian state little different from the Soviet Union.

In addition to this intellectual context of mystical fascism, Putin also pragmatically seeks to add more and more Slavic population to Russia.  He has already acquired 2.5 million new Russians by annexing Crimea, and if he could force Ukraine back within Russia this would provide about 45 million more ethnic Slavs.  It would also allow him to eventually force the Ukraine Orthodox Church back into union with the Russian Orthodox Church.

So his Russian citizenship vision looks both ways – it is multiethnic , multinational in order to accommodate a huge Muslim population in the Central Asia he covets; but ultimately will elevate ethnic Russian identity through political and military manoeuvers, pulling more and more Slavs into the Russian state while building up their Christian Orthodox identity as a historical and cultural barrier to Muslim “citizens” within the new Russian Empire.

Aleksandr Dugin, inspiration behind Putin’s fascist dreams of Russian expansion, conquest, triumph over Eurasia and the West

2.  The Teachings and Prophecies of a Mystic Philosopher

For more on the mystical world view behind Putin’s offer of a multiethnic citizenshipa, see this article on the new Rasputin, the “brain behind Putin” – Aleksandr Dugin – and his fascist visions of world domination driving a new Imperial Russia.

All emprires have a global calling it seems  – For Britain it was White Man’s Burden, for the United States it was Manifest Destiny, for France it was Mission Civilisatrice, and of course for Hitler’s Germany it was the triumph of Aryanism, a return to a golden age, similar to that of Aleksandr Dugin’s for Russia.

Dugins visions hark back to an ancient lost “Hyperborea” civilization to be pitted against a resurgent Atlantean civilization embodied in the United States…

Dugin actually sees the fall of China – something not conducive to the present effusive expressions of Sino-Russian “friendship without limits”…That would be why he is not currently much of a public figure in Russia though is said to have wielded great influence since the fall of the Soviet Union.

He also sees the conquest of Europe as part of the natural, divine inheritance, and indeed mission, of a Greater Russia. His writings are said to be required writings for Russian soldier, and his influence was massive during the early years of Putin’s rise and presumed new ideological orientations.

3. Russia or China?  The Dream of a Vast New World Order

On the issue of China’s massive plans for expansion already underway in Central Asia – Putin can only see China’s Belt and Road Initiative or New Silk Road for what it is, an insidious financial, territorial and political creep into Central Asia, including Ukraine.

It is possible that, as China preaches, integration with China’s New World Order structured financially and territorially by the Belt and Road Initiative may bring great benefits to all concerned.

This could be a great opportunity for Central and Western Asia, and for many of the former “stans” it does represent insurance against being reabsorbed within a new Russian Empire. On the other hand, it is their wooing by China into the vast new Silk Road – which is expressly intended to be a new world order in itself – that worries Russia.  Coping with the influx of Muslim and non-Russian ethnic groups is to be preferred, in the end, to coping with their absorption in the Chinese new sphere of influence.  Again, none of this has anything to do with genuine concerns about NATO – and even less about Nazism.

We have to see it – and call it – like it is:  Putin’s endless harping on the West, its rejection of Russia as a political friend, and its apparently relentless efforts to hem Russia in with NATO, are all smoke and mirrors designed to allay any concerns its real adversary – the enormous might that is becoming superpower, expansive China – might have.

As long as Putin obsesses openly about NATO, the European Union, and the United States, his moves in Eurasia remain fundamentally misinterpreted – at least by the West.  China is unlikely to be fooled, as a past master in games of strategy.  And recently China has begun referring to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as “war” signifying some unease with Putin’s methods, if not his goals.

However, China is not quite yet at the place in history where it can openly challenge Russia’s countermoves – as it certainly will, one day.  Even now, though, it is likely feverishly working out the cost-benefit analysis of backing – or criticizing Russia’s moves on Ukraine.

The ancient Chinese game of strategy, Weichi

Because China and Russia are engaged in a dangerous game of Weichi – that ancient Chinese game of strategy – in Eurasia, with each pretending the other is its best friend, while each jockeys for long-term financial, territorial, political – and ultimately military – control over Central Asia.

Russia  has both resisted and attempted to partner with China in what some scholars call a New Eurasian Paradigm.  This would see a massive shift from western political and economic hegemony to a Sino-Russian New World Order.

Russia’s portion of the old One Belt One Road Initiative, a project on which Russia has stalled for many years, but which shows part of the new “Vladivostok to Portugal Eurasian Paradigm – forming the proposed Sino-Russian New World Order

The immense scope of this geopolitical framework can be seen in the group of Eurasian Land Bridges laid out by China as only the land part of its vast new Silk Road Vision.  Russia is rather openly and desperately in dialogue with China to be included as a full partner, since its own economic resources are simply too limited to carry out even a small part of the great One Belt One Road project.

Russia does however possess vast territory and can exert important political and – as we see with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – military pressure on countries which China needs to partner with.

So here are two players in what is really a Great Game masked by what can only be a temporary, tactical alliance. Putin’s ploy is to pretend his moves in Eurasia are all aimed as supporting Slavic peoples and blocking NATO’s so-called threat.  In fact, Russia must somehow build up its ramshackle Imperial State with the help of partnering with China but also blocking tactically and strategically much of China’s territorial, economic, and political expansion throughout Eurasia.

Both players of this new Great Game are armed with nuclear weapons and both believe their survival through expansion is at stake. Again, though Putin has threatened the West with use of nuclear weapons, he is really warning China that its expansion westward in to the heartland of Eurasia cannot and will not go unchallenged – up to and including with nuclear weapons – by an impoverished but still viable Russian state.

The world can only watch and wait as this “new order” struggles to be born – because it will be born; the only question is what will this strange new political form look like, and what does this mean for the nature of the international system?  WIll it be a system of states, empires, or a huge bloc of quasi-empires shading from authoritarian to totalitarian, agains which a rump group of western states will have to make a stand?

For a truly insightful, thoughtful, and extraordinarily close look at China’s New Silk Road, read Belt and Road * A Chinese World Order by Bruno Macaes…

Further Reading:  Ancient Chinese Thought Behind China’s New Silk Road.

© Carol Leigh Rice 2022

 

 

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