In recent discussion on Anatoly Karlin’s blog, I realised how recuperating lost empires is just not in vogue…
Recovery of lost lands is just not very common in post-WWII world. I can think of the reunification of Germany, a second Albanian state in Kosovo, and the return of Crimea in my lifetime. In the post-WWII world, India waged a war against Portugal to seize Goa, Indonesia seized East Timor for a time, China seized Tibet, Turkey seized half of Cyprus but overall land grabs are simply rare.
In Europe we see reluctance of countries to retake what is rightfully theirs. As I already mentioned in one of my rants, Ukraine is reluctant to take back Donbass and Crimea. Not only does the pro-Western elite in Kiev not want the most pro-Russian regions back, they don’t want to assume the burden of rebuilding Donbass.
Russia chickened out of taking Novorossiya in 2014. It was clear Russia was not economically ready to make this move. One can only note at this instance that even the economic powerhouse, Germany, was unable to fully converge with its formerly socialist Eastern territories. Now Russia’s strategy vis-a-vis Ukraine is reduced to a pathetic song of federalisation, and unless Ukraine, or parts of Ukraine beyond LDNR and Crimea, are somehow brought back into Russia’s orbit, any thoughts of recuperating lost lands of the Rus’ are unrealistic.
Similarly, Romania’s idea of reuniting with the Republic of Moldova has been traded in for Romania’s NATO membership. Why take care of some Romanians in an estranged, piss poor country, when there are cushy seats in Brussels available right now. Irredentism in places like Germany or Italy is the domain of neo-nazi megalomaniacs, good luck with that.
But since Africans will always sell you their diamonds, control over a territory is not necessary. Far more important is controlling the people. I met more than one Moldovan with a Romanian passport. Ukrainians with Russian passports are also not uncommon. Ukraine is still in the process of trying to justify herself within the confines of her inheritance, the Ukrainian state. The only people dreaming about territorial conquest in Ukraine are radical nationalists, much like in Italy or Germany, so good luck with that.