Founded in 1263 on the ruins of Kievan Rus, in the following 7 centuries, the Grand Duchy of Moscow subjugated vast territories in Europe and Asia, populated by hundreds of peoples and ethnic groups, mostly through violence and deceit. After two disintegrations 73 years apart, Russia still remains an empire spanning 11 time zones and stretching across two continents, with an area of over 17 million square kilometers and a population of 145 million representing over 200 different peoples and ethnic groups.
A map showing the expansion of the Russian Empire between 1533 and 1894.
Although many political experts and researchers previously spoke about the collapse of what remains of the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union as a likely outcome, the war President Vladimir Putin started against Ukraine in February 2022 has turned the probability into certainty.
Several experts in social-political sciences and international relations have discussed these matters.
Political analyst Taras Berezovets, founder of the Free Crimea project and the Institute for the Future of Ukraine, and president of the National Strategies Foundation, believes that Russia will exist within its current borders for another 2-4 years.
The world will witness the disappearance of the Russian state in its current form between 2024 and 2026, predicted the secretary of the National Security and Defense Council in Kiev. He argues that during the given period, the phenomena which the war in Ukraine has set in motion will intensify in the Russian Federation, drawing a comparison with the consequences of the war waged by the former Soviet Union in Afghanistan.
Russians will seek refuge, including in Ukraine
The Russian Federation itself emerged from the disintegration of the USSR without violence or loss of its own territories, but this time the scenario will be "much harsher," Berezovets believes. The analyst and Ukrainian official anticipates a civil war, with many casualties and refugees, and the breaking away of vast territories from the metropolis.
"From 5 to 10 million Russian citizens will try to cross the border into Ukraine in search of refuge," Berezovets said, referring to civilians caught in eventual hostilities in the European part of Russia, adding that most of them will seek political asylum and refugee status in European Union countries. "Ukraine needs to make the necessary preparations right now," the expert emphasized in an online interview.
An administrative map of the Soviet Union in 1989.
The collapse scenario is inevitable
Slovak publicist and politician Juraj Mesik is equally pessimistic about Russia. In a commentary for Ukrainian press, titled "Prepare for the Inevitable: Why the West Must Discuss the Collapse of the Russian Federation Now," Mesik outlines a lasting Balkan scenario for the current Russian empire.
The Slovak expert, who is the director of the Slovak Foreign Policy Association, wrote in an essay six years ago that Russia might not survive after 2031, but the war has adjusted his forecast. In his most recent statements, he has already spoken about 3-5 years. After the disintegration, some territories will return to the countries from which they had been taken.