(IMR) The Kremlin’s Love and Fear of Separatism. Moscow is rapidly establishing itself as Europe’s largest state sponsor of separatist movements. But can Russia play this role and at the same time contain secessionist sentiments within its own borders? Independent journalist Konstantin Fischer examines the Kremlin’s precarious double game when it comes to separatism. Over the past 18 months, Russia has firmly put separatism back on the map of Europe. The self-declared “people’s republics” of Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine are the largest secessionist territories on the continent, comprising more than 3 million people and an area roughly the size of Massachusetts. Despite the Kremlin’s denials, without Russian money, weapons, and fighters, the two entities would have never appeared, even in the wake of the Euromaidan revolution. […]
“Moscow risks negative responses in the regions and rising anti-Russian nationalism,” Nikolai Petrov said in a telephone interview.
Petrov argued that unlike in the 1990s, there is little appetite among today’s regional leaders to take on the federal center. Rather, he said, the current regional elites might be too weak to contain ethnic nationalist sentiment among local populations. […]
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