Ethnic-territorial disputes with other former Soviet states. -Among the many ethnic-based territorial disputes which, previously latent, exploded immediately after the dissolution of the USSR, some, although not the most serious, directly and specifically concern Russia.
First of all, there is a recurring dispute between Russia and Ukraine over Crimea. This peninsula (27,000 km 2and 2.5 million residents), which historically is part of the Russia, to which it is also economically linked, had been transferred from Khrushchev to Ukraine in 1954, on the solemn occasion of the third centenary of the union between the two countries. After the USSR dissolved and Ukraine gained independence, Ukraine hastened to grant Crimea the status of an autonomous republic, but this does not seem sufficient to the majority of its residents, who would aspire to independence (his Parliament voted to this effect in 1992, and a referendum on the matter was held in 1994) and he is making it clear that such independence would only be a first step towards a return to Russia. Some turbulence also exists in another Ukrainian region, the Donbass,
Between Russia and Georgia there is the problem of South Ossetia, a small autonomous province of Georgia (4000 km 2 and 100,000 residents), Which is fighting for independence (referendum in this sense in 1992) in view of a hoped-for unification with North Ossetia; the latter, its ethnic twin, is however located in the north of the Caucasus and above all is part (as an autonomous republic) of Russia. The aspirations of the autonomous republic of Abhasia (8500 km 2and half a million residents), on the Georgian Pontic coast; it does not have a Russian twin, but its struggle for independence has among its possible objectives the subsequent passage to Russia. In these two conflicts (the second also bloody), the Russia has so far played a discreet role, tending to be a pacifier, even though she cannot hold back too much – even under the pressure of a part of her public opinion – in the face of these (and others, possible in the future) professions of loyalty of more or less Russian minorities that remained, as mentioned, outside its borders. The actual Russians alone, the result of a traditional widespread expansion in the countries of the former Union (since the days of the Empire), represent, in relative figures, rates ranging between 2% in Armenia and 38% in Kazakhstan.
Indirectly, the Russia is also involved in external disputes – now international – between other countries of the former USSR (unfortunately frequent, despite the fact that the treaty establishing the CIS requires member states to reciprocally respect territorial integrity and the inviolability of borders): in particular, that between Ukraine and Moldavia for the border region of Trans-Dniester, and that, very bloody, between Armenia and Azerbaijan for the territory of Nagorno-Karabah. The role of the Russia in these conflicts oscillates between that of the alleged leading country of the CIS, which leads it to pose as a super partes referee, and that of ethnic-cultural affinity, which leads it to sympathize with the Ukrainians, despite the disagreements on the Crimea and the Donbass, in the first case,
Internal ethnic-territorial disputes. – If, as mentioned, about 25 million Russians live in the other former Soviet republics, there are, on the other hand, 29 million non-Russians within the Russian Federation. The symmetry, however, is above all numerical, because only a part of these 29 million refers to the dominant ethnic groups in the other 14 republics. It is true that in Russia there are about 4.5 million Ukrainians (3% of the population of the Russian Federation) and 1.2 million Belarusians, as well as minor groups ethnically connected to the various Caucasian, Central Asian and Baltic republics. But there are also ethnic groups in their own right, which have no homeland with which to aspire to reunification. The main ones are the Tatars (5.7 million people, 3.8% of the population), the Chuvashians (1.8 million) and the Bashkirs (1.3 million), all three of ethnic Turks, or Turkish-Tatar. And then there are, in addition to less numerous Turkish and Mongolian groups (Jacuti, Tuvini, Calmucchi, etc.), the people of North Caucasian ethnicity – Chechens, Ingushes, Dagestans -, similar but not identifiable with the peoples of the independent states that they are south of the Caucasian range; and those of Finnish ethnicity, the Finni proper and the Careli. Finally, non-Slavic Indo-European groups, such as the Ossetians and the so-called Volga Germans.
All of these peoples, except the Germans who were never forgiven for collaborating with the Nazi invaders during World War II (unlike other collaborationist peoples gradually rehabilitated between the 1950s and 1980s), mostly live by borders of specific autonomous republics; but for several of them the degree of autonomy they enjoy does not appear sufficient. Karelia declared itself sovereign already in 1991. The Tatar republic, or Tatarstan, of predominantly Islamic religion, voted by a majority for independence in a referendum held in 1992. The Chechens, also Muslims, demanded separation from the Ingush. in the same year, but both of them also claim a district of nearby North Ossetia: the conflict in this case is not only between local and dominant ethnicity, but between minority and minority. Chechnya took on the autochthonous name of Ickeria in 1994 and proclaimed independence on paper. Finally, Tuva adopted its own constitution in 1993 which provides for the right of secession from the Russian Federation. Just as there are autonomous republics that aspire to independence, so from the bottom rung there are those who aspire to autonomy. The first proclamations in this sense by the province of Jekaterinburg (self-defined “Autonomous Republic of the Urals”) and that of Vologda, as well as the territory of the Primorje coast, are in 1993; proclamations that, for now, have not been recognized by the Federation. as well as the territory of the Primorje coast; proclamations that, for now, have not been recognized by the Federation. as well as the territory of the Primorje coast; proclamations that, for now, have not been recognized by the Federation.
Agriculture. – The new agriculture has gone through its own specific crisis within the country’s economy, and is experiencing attempts at reform and restructuring. They are gorbačëviani years (1989-90) the first laws that allow kolchozi and sovchozi to give land on lease and, with many limitations, even in properties to cooperatives and private. Some limitations fell with E’lzin (1993) and the private sector of agriculture is, albeit slowly, expanding.
On the productive level, the country’s financial and organizational crisis could not fail to have negative effects. The production of cereals, which in the five-year period 1986-90 had remained on average in the USSR at 2 billion quintals per year, equal to 14 ÷ 15% of the world total, is now (1991-93), for all the countries former Soviets, about 1.7 billion quintals. Consequently, the use of imports had to be increased, which absorbs 1/7 of world exports. However, signs of recovery can be seen already in 1993. The production of oilseeds (sunflower, soybeans) and sugar beet has also been reduced. The latest complete data (1992) on the main productions of Russian agriculture and on the place they occupy in the world production ranking are the following: wheat, 460 million q, 4th place in the world ranking; corn, 21 million q, 24th place; barley, 255 million q, 1st place; potatoes, 378 million q, 1st place; sugar, 24 million q, 13th place. On the basis of these data, it can therefore be said that, despite the separation of Ukraine and Kazakhstan, strong producers of wheat and barley, and Belarus, a good potato producer, Russia still retains a very important role in the world market of these. three commodities. The situation is different for maize, a relatively recently developed crop that had and maintains its production base especially in Ukraine and Moldova. Also for sugar production, the separation of Ukraine, now the 10th largest producer in the world, has greatly reduced the importance of Russia. Finally, the role of Russia for crops such as tea, tobacco,
On the consistency of livestock breeding, the most recent data (1993) are as follows: cattle, 52 million heads, 5th place in the world ranking; sheep, 51 million head, 4th place; pigs, 32 million head, 3rd place. For this aspect of the Russian rural economy, the posting of Ukraine (cattle and pigs), Kazakhstan (sheep and cattle), Kyrgyzstan (sheep) and Belarus (pigs) halved the numerical values that were attributable to the former Soviet Union, but did not expel Russia from the first steps of the world rankings (although reducing its weight, especially as regards sheep). The production of fish has also been reduced, partly the prerogative of the fishing fleets of the Baltic States, Ukraine, etc.
The forestry heritage remains essentially Russian, with the consequent production of timber, given that the forests are mainly located in the central-northern areas of the territory of the former USSR, which remained almost entirely in the Russian Federation.