Russia Fractures, Part 2: The Political Geography of the Soviet Breakup

In Part 1, I looked at the rapid breakup and reassembly of the Russian Empire during the Russian Revolution. This post portrays with maps the breakup of the Soviet Union from 1989-1991. Again, the primary source of these maps is the wikipedia article Timeline of Russian History (20th century).



(East Germany is excluded — I didn’t have room on the map.)

Compared against the Russian Revolution, we see that many of the areas that broke apart — Ukraine, the Baltic States, the Caucasus, southern Central Asia — were the same “problem areas” during the Russian Revolution. I also find it interesting that Belarus and Kazakhstan were the very last to go independent, and the decision to separate from Mother Russia was controversial with many of the institutions and domestic powers-that-be at the time.

Looking at the geography of these two regions is, I believe, relevant to understanding the geographic dilemmas to Russia’s near future — to be addressed in Part 3.

About Curzon

Lord George Nathaniel Curzon (1859 - 1925) entered the British House of Commons as a Conservative MP in 1886, where he served as undersecretary of India and Foreign Affairs. He was appointed Viceroy of India at the turn of the 20th century where he delineated the North West Frontier Province, ordered a military expedition to Tibet, and unsuccessfully tried to partition the province of Bengal during his six-year tenure. Curzon served as Leader of the House of Lords in Prime Minister Lloyd George's War Cabinet and became Foreign Secretary in January 1919, where his most famous act was the drawing of the Curzon Line between a new Polish state and Russia. His publications include Russia in Central Asia (1889) and Persia and the Persian Question (1892). In real life, "Curzon" is a US citizen from the East Coast who has been a financial analyst, freelance translator, and university professor; he is currently on assignment in Tokyo.
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