How Russia Uses Immigration and Naturalization to Grow State Power
While NATO expansion has been a central issue in the Russian decision to go to war with Ukraine, this is certainly not the only issue. Moscow has repeatedly maintained that a central factor in its decision to go to war with Ukraine was to protect ethnic Russian minorities in eastern Ukraine from human rights abuses committed by the Ukrainian state.
This justification for military intervention has used more than once in recent decades. We saw similar tactics used in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, both in Georgia. The Russian annexation of the Crimea in 2014 used similar rhetoric. Moreover, the Russian state has justified military interventions on grounds that it was protecting local political independence and autonomy of these minority groups from their respective states’ central governments.
Notably, the Russian regime extended citizenship to the populations of the separatist regions in question either before or after the military intervention in each case. This was done by granting passports en masse to the residents of each region, in a process called passportization.
Most recently, this has also been done in eastern Ukraine where passportization—as in Georgia— helped set the stage for military intervention.
This use of citizenship and naturalization as a tool of foreign policy helps to illustrate some of the geopolitical implications of the existence of unassimilated ethnic or linguistic minorities within a state’s borders. These realities also call into question what are often overconfident assumptions that ethnic minorities will “assimilate” and abandon political allegiances with foreign states. In fact, as the Russian efforts in these areas suggests, the process of assimilation can actually be thrown into reverse, with disastrous results from those who are on the losing end of these changes.
A Brief History of Passportization
The Russian passportization effort stems from an apparent shift in the Russian regime toward incorporating Russian ethnics and other sympathetic groups—and the territories they inhabit—into a de facto or de jure union with the Russian state. Some have attributed this strategy specifically to Vladimir Putin to whom has been attributed the so-called “Putin Doctrine” of “once Russian, always Russian.”
This doctrine, to the extent that it actually exists, is nonetheless heavily constrained by political realities. Even if Moscow has big plans for reclaiming numerous parts of the old Soviet Union, the fact is Moscow does not possess the military capability to do. The fact Moscow’s occupation efforts in Ukraine are limited to the south and southeast is only the latest evi
Article from Mises Wire