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Russian irredentism generally refers to irredentist claims to parts of the former Russian Empire or USSR made during the 21st century for the Russian Federation.

The Annexation of Crimea has been partially explained as an irredentist claim.

Flag map of Greater Russia, showing the 1945-1991 borders of the USSR


Russian EmpireEdit

From roughly the 16th century to 20th century, the Russian Empire followed an expansionist policy.[n 1] Few of these actions had irredentist justifications, though the conquest of parts of the Ottoman Empire in the Caucasus to bring Armenian Christians under the protection of the Tsar may represent one example.[1]

Post-USSR (21st century)Edit

After the dissolution of the USSR in 1991, it was thought that the Russian Federation gave up on plans of territorial expansion or kin-state nationalism, despite some 25 million ethnic Russians living in neighboring countries outside Russia.[2] Stephen M. Saideman and R. William Ayres assert that Russia followed a non-irredentist policy in the 1990s despite some justifications for irredentist policies - one factor disfavoring irredentism was a focus by the ruling interest in consolidating power and the economy within the territory of Russian.[3] Furthermore, a stable policy of irredentism popular with the electorate was not found, and politicians proposing such ideas did not fare well electorally.[4] Russian nationalist politicians tended to focus on internal threats (i.e. "outsiders") rather than on the interests of Russians outside the federation.[5]

It has been proposed that the annexation of Crimea in 2014 proves Russia's adherence to irredentism today.[6][7][8][9]

The annexation of Crimea led to a new wave of Russian nationalism, with large parts of the Russian far right movement aspiring to annex even more land from Ukraine, including the unrecognized Novorossiya.[10] Vladimir Socor proposed that Vladimir Putin's speech after the annexation of Crimea was a de facto "manifesto of Greater-Russia Irredentism".[11] However, after international sanctions were imposed against Russia in early 2014, within a year the "Novorossiya" project was suspended: on 1 January 2015, the founding leadership announced the project has been put on hold, and on 20 May the constituent members announced the freezing of the political project.[12][13]

Some Russian nationalists seek to annex parts of the "near abroad", such as the Baltic states,[14] while some fear potential escalation due to Russian irredentist aspirations in northern Kazakhstan also.[15]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ The state expanded eastwards and southwards, which led to the conquests of Siberia, the Caucasus, Turkestan, and Uzbekistan.


  1. ^ Saideman & Ayres 2008, p. 96.
  2. ^ Tristan James Mabry; John McGarry; Margaret Moore; Brendan O'Leary (2013). Divided Nations and European Integration: National and Ethnic Conflict in the 21st Century. University of Pennsylvania Press. p. 365. ISBN 9780812244977.
  3. ^ Saideman & Ayres 2008, p. 197.
  4. ^ Saideman & Ayres 2008, p. 199.
  5. ^ Saideman & Ayres 2008, p. 196.
  6. ^ Armando Navarro (2015). Mexicano and Latino Politics and the Quest for Self-Determination: What Needs to Be Done. Lexington Books. p. 536. ISBN 9780739197363.
  7. ^ Joseph J. Hobbs (2016). Fundamentals of World Regional Geography. Cengage Learning. p. 183. ISBN 9781305854956.
  8. ^ Marvin Kalb (2015). Imperial Gamble: Putin, Ukraine, and the New Cold War. Brookings Institution Press. p. 163. ISBN 9780815727446.
  9. ^ Stephen Saideman (March 18, 2014). "Why Crimea is likely the limit of Greater Russia". The Globe and Mail.
  10. ^ Casey Michael (19 June 2015). "Pew Survey: Irredentism Alive and Well in Russia". The Diplomat.
  11. ^ Vladimir Socor. "Putin's Crimea Speech: A Manifesto of Greater-Russia Irredentism". 11 (56). Eurasia Daily Monitor.
  12. ^ "Russian-backed 'Novorossiya' breakaway movement collapses". Ukraine Today. 20 May 2015.
    Vladimir Dergachev; Dmitriy Kirillov (20 May 2015). Проект «Новороссия» закрыт [Project "New Russia" is closed]. (in Russian).
  13. ^ "Why the Kremlin Is Shutting Down the Novorossiya Project". Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Retrieved 2015-12-20.
  14. ^ William Maley (1995). "Does Russia Speak for Baltic Russians?". The World Today. 51 (1): 4–6. JSTOR 40396641.
  15. ^ Alexander C. Diener (2015). "Assessing potential Russian irredentism and separatism in Kazakhstan's northern oblasts". Eurasian Geography and Economics. 56 (5): 469–492. doi:10.1080/15387216.2015.1103660.


  • Saideman, Stephen M.; Ayres, William R. (2008), For Kin Or Country: Xenophobia, Nationalism, and War, Columbia University Press

Further readingEdit