December 10, 2015
Grigas on Russian Expansionism, Compatriots, and Energy Transformation
MOTYL: Your forthcoming book, Beyond Crimea: The New Russian Empire, argues that Moscow’s expansionist policies are driven by a desire to in-gather Russian and Russian-speaking “compatriots” in the non-Russian states. How does this process work?
GRIGAS: This is an effort to use compatriots—the ethnic Russians and Russian speakers residing in post-Soviet space—to regain influence and territory in foreign states. Since the 1990s, and particularly since the 2000s, Russia has passed some 20 laws, policies, and acts calling for compatriot engagement and protection. My book traces how Moscow uses Russian compatriots from the Baltic states to Central Asia in a seven-stage re-imperialization trajectory involving (1) Russian soft power, (2) humanitarian efforts, (3) compatriot policies, and (4) the distribution of Russian passports to compatriots abroad. As (5) information warfare intensifies over the alleged maltreatment and suffering of the Russian compatriots, (6) Moscow calls for their protection. The final stage can involve (7) stoking separatism in territories where the compatriots reside or de facto or de jure annexing these territories, as in Crimea, the Donbas, South Ossetia, Abkhazia, and Transnistria.