By Patricia H Kushlis
What, precisely, does Novorossiya mean?
The recreation of the Old Soviet Union? The resurrection of the Russian Empire ruled by Moscow but under a 21st century name? Or does it mean the Russian Federation will offer special protections to Russian speakers living outside its borders along the lines of the 19th century practice of extraterritoriality?
In reality Novorossiya is a fuzzy concept, but at root it is based on the premise that irredentism is just fine as long as it’s my country that’s being the irredentist. Which means: the term Novorossiya has far reaching and dangerous consequences for international peace and stability.
For a single country to decide that it will upset the international apple cart through aggression against its neighbors in pursuit of ill-defined, grandiose ultranationalist visions breaking internationally agreed upon rules is far worse than just opening Pandora's Box or shouting fire in a crowded theater.
If Russia can pull off such a grand scheme then there’s no reason others can’t, and won’t, follow suit.
In a Hobbsian world of might makes right, why then shouldn't the Chinese decide to unilaterally invoke a Novokitaiskaya that includes not just the disputed islands in the South China Sea and the Senkakus, off the coast with Japan, but also land ceded to Russia by China along the Usseri River in the 1960s or more that’s been under contention for decades if not centuries?
Why shouldn’t the Finns decide to establish a Novofinlandia (Uusi Suomi or perhaps Suuri Suomi) to include the now Russian province of Karelia, once part of Finland until an earlier Russian land-grab, from where the Finnish and Estonian Kalevala, or national narrative, derives. Hey, I still have one of those pre-World War II greater Finland road maps that I bought from the map store when I lived in Helsinki at the end of the Cold War.
There was, by the way, a joke circulating in Finland at the time about agreeing to meet someone on the Finnish-Chinese border.