What do you think the ideal borders for the Russian Empire would have been?

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
22,750
SoCal
What do you think the ideal borders for the Russian Empire would have been?

As for me, here is what I think:

1. First of all, Russia should be allowed to keep all of the territories which it currently controls in real life. This includes Russia within its 1991 borders as well as Crimea. This is the ethnic Russian core of Russia and thus the Russian Empire should certainly keep control of this territory. Personally, I don't care much for Chechnya, but I need to hold it in order to secure a land connection to oil-rich Baku.

2. Russia should keep Azerbaijan (including Baku, of course) due to its massive oil reserves. As for Armenia and Georgia, I'll let them decide whether or not they want to remain under Russian rule. If they do want to remain under Russian rule, though, then it would make sense for Russia to keep them and also to expand into the Armenian vilayets--as well as the Trabzon Vilayet (which had a lot of ethnic Greeks)--of the Ottoman Empire:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Six_vilayets

3. Russia should avoid attempting to expand into either Iran or Afghanistan. It's just not worth it--there are too many Muslims there for little gain.

4. Russia should withdraw from what is now Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and southern Kyrgyzstan since there are a lot of Muslims there and little gain for Russia. However, Russia should keep Turkmenistan (due to its massive amount of natural gas reserves), Kazakhstan, and northern Kyrgyzstan--the last two for living space.

5. At an opportune moment, Russia should expand into Mongolia and eastern Xinjiang. This would be a golden opportunity for Russia to acquire additional living space at relatively little cost. Also, the Mongols can probably be assimilated pretty well into Russia while most of Xinjiang's Uyghurs live in western Xinjiang--which Russia is not going to want to annex.

6. Expansion into Manchuria and Korea should be out of the question since there are simply too many Chinese and Korean people there for Russia to assimilate. However, Russia should reacquire southern Sakhalin for its living space once the opportunity arises. Indeed, Russia can even let the Japanese and Korean residents of south Sakhalin remain where they are; after all, there is plenty of living space there to go around.

7. Under no circumstances should Russia try to reacquire Alaska (not that it would even be feasible, that is). After all, the U.S. is destined for greatness and Russia should certainly not stand in its way.

8. Russia should let go of Poland and western Ukraine. Those territories are full of nationalists and would probably be too much of a problem for Russia to handle in the long(er)-run.

9. Russia should keep Bessarabia if that is what its inhabitants want. However, if Bessarabia's inhabitants want to unite with Romania, Russia should certainly let them do this.

10. Russia should keep eastern Ukraine, southern Ukraine, and Belarus. Nationalism there has not become widespread yet and thus all of these territories can probably be kept by Russia.

11. Russia should keep the Baltic states for their living space. As for Finland, it would depend on how much ethnic Russians would want to move there. If few ethnic Russians will want to move to Finland, Russia should let Finland go. Else, Russia should keep Finland.

12. In the event of a future war with Germany, Russia should acquire northern East Prussia and try to encourage a lot of ethnic Russians to move there. Meanwhile, Poland (from which Russia should have withdrawn by now) should acquire the southern, Polish-majority part of East Prussia (known as Masuria).

Anyway, any thoughts on my list here?

Indeed, what exactly would you do if you had a carte blanche to redraw the Russian Empire's borders in, say, 1913?
 
May 2016
74
US
The territories of the Russian Empire should be returned to Great Finland, and Helsinki shall become the capital of everything from Old Finland (Finland) to New Finland (Kamchatka)
 
May 2015
1,061
The Netherlands
What would Russia need with so much 'living space' given its demographics? Retaining the Baltic states, the Transcaucasus and parts of the Central Asia would be important for strategic reasons, but I don't see why it would want Mongolia and eastern Xinjiang. Much less if the sole reason for their annexation was 'living space'.
 
Dec 2017
312
Regnum Teutonicum
1. First of all, Russia should be allowed to keep all of the territories which it currently controls in real life. This includes Russia within its 1991 borders as well as Crimea.

1913. Just to clarify, so essentially as minimum the territory of 1913 minus southern Central Asia, the stuff Germany forced the russians/soviets to give up with the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk and the islands Russia gave to China, but including eastern Ukraine, eastern Xinjiang, Tuva, Mongolia and the World War 2 trophies from Finland, Germany and Japan?


What do you mean with ideal borders? Geographic ones or ethnic ones? With the borders you described, sometimes going for one means the other one is not only not ideal, but bad.


With regard to Finland, you wrote, that it should get/stay part of Russia, if russians would want to move there. Wouldn't that principle mean the loss of Siberia. Because russians largely didn't move there, because they wanted to move there. It was populated by russians, because the population was forced to move there (exile, deportations,...) and when they were there, couldn't get back, because of the harsh nature and the non existant infrastructure. This is the reason why today, with access to better infrastructure, Siberia is drying out of russians, because the young all move to the russian heartland in Europe.
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
22,750
SoCal
What would Russia need with so much 'living space' given its demographics? Retaining the Baltic states, the Transcaucasus and parts of the Central Asia would be important for strategic reasons, but I don't see why it would want Mongolia and eastern Xinjiang. Much less if the sole reason for their annexation was 'living space'.
Russia's demographics were much different in 1913 than they are today. Indeed, without Bolshevism and World War II, Russia would have had a much larger population. Indeed, in such a scenario, Russia proper might have, say, 225-250 million people in the long(er)-run--and this is not to mention the Slavic populations in Belarus, Novorossiya, and northern Kazakhstan.

Also, as a side note, Mongolia and Xinjiang could be useful buffer zones against China once China will finally clean up its act and begin industrializing and developing.
 
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Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
22,750
SoCal
1913. Just to clarify, so essentially as minimum the territory of 1913 minus southern Central Asia, the stuff Germany forced the russians/soviets to give up with the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk and the islands Russia gave to China, but including eastern Ukraine, eastern Xinjiang, Tuva, Mongolia and the World War 2 trophies from Finland, Germany and Japan?
Yeah, pretty much.

What do you mean with ideal borders? Geographic ones or ethnic ones? With the borders you described, sometimes going for one means the other one is not only not ideal, but bad.
I'll let you decide what is ideal here.

Also, as a side note, throughout U.S. history, the U.S. was often able to shape the ethnic borders of its territory. After all, a lot of White settlers flooded into the Louisiana Purchase territory as well as into the Southwestern U.S. after the U.S. acquired these territories.

With regard to Finland, you wrote, that it should get/stay part of Russia, if russians would want to move there. Wouldn't that principle mean the loss of Siberia. Because russians largely didn't move there, because they wanted to move there. It was populated by russians, because the population was forced to move there (exile, deportations,...) and when they were there, couldn't get back, because of the harsh nature and the non existant infrastructure. This is the reason why today, with access to better infrastructure, Siberia is drying out of russians, because the young all move to the russian heartland in Europe.
Large parts of Siberia still appear to have a Russian-majority population right now, though:



As for the parts of Siberian that are not Russian-majority, some of them are still useful to Russia because they have a lot of natural resources (such as Yakutia). Plus, in terms of total numbers, the non-Russian-majority parts of Siberia are certainly not a demographic threat to Russia.
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
22,750
SoCal
Also, @GJC: Please keep in mind that a lot of ethnic Russians (and Ukrainians, and maybe Belarusians as well) did move to Siberia and northern Central Asia after these territories were acquired by Russia.

Considering that there would have been a lot of space and few people living in both Mongolia and eastern Xinjiang, why wouldn't a lot of ethnic Russians (and Ukrainians, and maybe Belarusians as well) have moved to these territories as well if Russia would have acquired them?
 

Decembrist

Ad Honorem
Mar 2013
2,702
the Nile to the Euphrates
What do you think the ideal borders for the Russian Empire would have been?

As for me, here is what I think:

1. First of all, Russia should be allowed to keep all of the territories which it currently controls in real life. This includes Russia within its 1991 borders as well as Crimea. This is the ethnic Russian core of Russia and thus the Russian Empire should certainly keep control of this territory. Personally, I don't care much for Chechnya, but I need to hold it in order to secure a land connection to oil-rich Baku.

2. Russia should keep Azerbaijan (including Baku, of course) due to its massive oil reserves. As for Armenia and Georgia, I'll let them decide whether or not they want to remain under Russian rule. If they do want to remain under Russian rule, though, then it would make sense for Russia to keep them and also to expand into the Armenian vilayets--as well as the Trabzon Vilayet (which had a lot of ethnic Greeks)--of the Ottoman Empire:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Six_vilayets

3. Russia should avoid attempting to expand into either Iran or Afghanistan. It's just not worth it--there are too many Muslims there for little gain.

4. Russia should withdraw from what is now Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and southern Kyrgyzstan since there are a lot of Muslims there and little gain for Russia. However, Russia should keep Turkmenistan (due to its massive amount of natural gas reserves), Kazakhstan, and northern Kyrgyzstan--the last two for living space.

5. At an opportune moment, Russia should expand into Mongolia and eastern Xinjiang. This would be a golden opportunity for Russia to acquire additional living space at relatively little cost. Also, the Mongols can probably be assimilated pretty well into Russia while most of Xinjiang's Uyghurs live in western Xinjiang--which Russia is not going to want to annex.

6. Expansion into Manchuria and Korea should be out of the question since there are simply too many Chinese and Korean people there for Russia to assimilate. However, Russia should reacquire southern Sakhalin for its living space once the opportunity arises. Indeed, Russia can even let the Japanese and Korean residents of south Sakhalin remain where they are; after all, there is plenty of living space there to go around.

7. Under no circumstances should Russia try to reacquire Alaska (not that it would even be feasible, that is). After all, the U.S. is destined for greatness and Russia should certainly not stand in its way.

8. Russia should let go of Poland and western Ukraine. Those territories are full of nationalists and would probably be too much of a problem for Russia to handle in the long(er)-run.

9. Russia should keep Bessarabia if that is what its inhabitants want. However, if Bessarabia's inhabitants want to unite with Romania, Russia should certainly let them do this.

10. Russia should keep eastern Ukraine, southern Ukraine, and Belarus. Nationalism there has not become widespread yet and thus all of these territories can probably be kept by Russia.

11. Russia should keep the Baltic states for their living space. As for Finland, it would depend on how much ethnic Russians would want to move there. If few ethnic Russians will want to move to Finland, Russia should let Finland go. Else, Russia should keep Finland.

12. In the event of a future war with Germany, Russia should acquire northern East Prussia and try to encourage a lot of ethnic Russians to move there. Meanwhile, Poland (from which Russia should have withdrawn by now) should acquire the southern, Polish-majority part of East Prussia (known as Masuria).

Anyway, any thoughts on my list here?

Indeed, what exactly would you do if you had a carte blanche to redraw the Russian Empire's borders in, say, 1913?

If the Russian Empire stretches out to such a size, it will break like a condom.