Russia Reconquista

In Russian historiography, probably since the time of the historian Nikolai Karamzin, there is the term "gathering of the Russian land" or "gathering of the Russian lands. In the 19th century, this term was used to describe the process of reintegration, including through conquest, of the fragmented Russian principalities around different political centers that began in the 14th century.

On June 9, 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin praised the policies of Russian Emperor Peter the Great, who was engaged in "the return of the Russian lands." After Putin came to power, the tendency has crystallized to consider the Russian Federation the heir to two states: the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union.  This perspective led to the legitimization of the "gathering of lands."

The lands held by the two predecessors of the Russian Federation include Central Asia, the Caucasus, the Baltics, Finland, Poland, Alaska, Ukraine, and Belorussia.

The Russian Empire in 1867

For domestic consumption, national appeasement, and ideological justification, two claims are popular in Russia: 1. Putin raised Russia from its knees, 2. Putin has brought order. Both of these statements are characteristic of imperial consciousness: 1. Russian Federation rose from its knees to make other countries fear themselves and bring them to their knees. 2. Putin is trying to create a new world order with Russia at its center.

The task of the Russian Federation is "gathering of lands," that is, the return of territories that belonged to the USSR and the Russian Empire. Due to the huge size of these territories, such ideology is a claim to world domination. The applicant for world domination must present its intentions in the most favorable sounding form. Therefore, he presents himself as a country forced by other countries to defend itself, a country under siege and surrounded by numerous external and internal enemy aggressors. The pretender to world domination points to his rival and main adversary to the "gathering of Russian lands" - NATO.

Since the pretender to world domination is the successor of the Soviet Union, his interests also include the spheres of influence of his predecessor, such as Syria. The aspirant for world domination stresses the "black ingratitude" and the deception of states that refuse his "help," that is, the "suzerain-vassal" relationship. The strategy of the pretender to world domination is to reclaim everything that once belonged to the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union. The tactic can lead to interruptions and halts caused by the resistance of the forces standing in the way of "gathering of Russian lands."  Empires do not know how to go backwards; there is no reverse in their gearbox. An empire can stop temporarily, stall, but it does not know how to retreat.

It is advantageous for the Russian Federation to present the war against Ukraine as a Russian Reconquista. In Spain there was a Reconquista, that is, the conquest of Christian lands formerly owned by the Spaniards from the Moorish emirates. In Spain, however, it was about lands formerly owned by the Spanish. The lands seized from Ukraine never belonged to the Russian Federation, but to the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union. The occupation of land in Ukraine is a statement that the Russian Federation is the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union. Since this is so, all the territories that belonged to these two, no longer existing states, are the property of the Russian Federation.

The Russian Federation "rose from its knees" to seize the territories of the two Russian empires: During the Reconquista, "homeland" becomes a sacred notion. War with the "collective West," that is, with the "forces of evil" represented by Ukraine, is elevated to the category of "sacred." Therefore, in the imperial consciousness of the Russian Federation, the distinction between the homeland and the government is erased. The government is relegated to the category of sacred values, and protests against its military actions are characterized as betrayal.

During the Stalin era, the authorities fought against the "enemies of the people." During the "gathering of Russian lands" there is a struggle between the authorities of the Russian Federation and the opponents of the war. It took Christians seven centuries to re-conquer Spain from Muslims.  How long it will the Russian Reconquista take and how much land and spheres of influence of the Soviet Union and the Russian Empire will be recaptured by the Russian Federation, the heir to the two Russian empires, is unknown.  It is clear that the Russian Federation's "special military operation" cannot be limited to Ukraine.

Image credit: Shadowxfox CC BY-SA 3.0 license

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