For nearly eight centuries, Russia has been trapped in a loose cycle: It rises from chaos, returns as a regional and sometimes even global power, grows aggressive as the system cracks, and then collapses before rising again. The cycle is less about political choice than it is about geographic constraints. ...
Russia's heartland — which runs from St. Petersburg south through Moscow and into the Volga region — lies on a series of plains, making it vulnerable from all sides. This has forced Russia to seek to expand its borders and influence outward to create a buffer zone between its heartland and rival regional powers. ...
Expanding Russian influence comes at an immense financial, military, political and social cost. ... Thus the dilemma: Russia must expand to survive, but that expansion is unsustainable and has historically led to its collapse.
Which leads me to ask, in what sense does Russian survival require expansion?
Isn't expansion to push back potential invasion threats counter-productive to national survival when you consider the lack of threats in the modern world to Russia's European heartland means that Russia's policy if expanding their influence simply hastens an internal collapse?
Sure, the Mongols swept across Russia's heartland. Will they again?
Sweden once invaded Russia. Will they again?
France once invaded Russia. Will they again?
Germany twice invaded Russia in modern history. Will they again?
To ask the questions is to see how ridiculous the Russian obsession is.
Good grief, America no longer obsesses about the invasion threat from British Canada that once loomed over us.
Can't Russia adjust their foreign policy to account for the fact that attempting to expand their borders just creates a national crisis in a bizarre attempt to push back non-existent threats of invasion?
Is doing the same thing yet again going to give the Russians a different result?
Apologists in the West for Russian expansionist policies who want us to "understand" the Russians (and go along with them) need to explain how Russia's traditional policy of expansion makes any sense at all in the 21st century when Russia is their own worst enemy.
And consider that even if the West goes along with Russia's policy, that won't stop the geography-based cycle that leads to collapse.
I had hopes that Russia would take the opportunity that the collapse of the Soviet Union provided to join the West. Russia did not take that opportunity to end the need for a buffer against threats from the West by becoming part of the West.
And so here we are, with an insane Russian policy that only makes sense in an archaic view of the world.
Or do the Russians think they found a 21st century cyber-based solution to keep the West at bay?
Of course, it isn't really amusing for a power with nuclear weapons to collapse. I was relieved that the collapse of the Soviet Union did not see their rulers choose to use nukes in a futile attempt to stem the tide of that collapse. Will we be as fortunate this time?