The American security researcher Luke Coffey expects the Russian Federation to collapse in the coming years. However, Coffey analyzes that Russia cannot become a model democracy. Putin’s successors could be just as nationalistic and radical as the Kremlin boss.

The Ukraine war could be the final push for a collapse of the Russian Federation. Political scientist Luke Coffey is convinced of that. “It will likely mean the dissolution of the Russian Federation as we know it today,” Coffey said. “The borders of the Russian Federation will probably not look the same on a map in ten or twenty years’ time.” Instead, the Eurasian region will be redefined.

Coffey is a security expert at the US think tank “Hudson Institute”. In a memorandum he calls on the West to prepare for the end of the Soviet era. Because the collapse of the Soviet Union has never stopped since the end of the state in 1991, he argues. This is evident in the two violent wars in Chechnya, Russia’s invasion of Georgia in 2008, the annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the Nagorno-Karabakh wars between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

The security researcher warns of “revolutions, uprisings and civil wars” after a defeat in the Ukraine war. “Four thousand young war veterans from ethnic minorities will bring combat experience from Ukraine and return to their home regions, where they have no economic or social future.” New fights within Russia are then more likely.

According to Coffey, the fall of the Russian Federation would also end the Putin era. But Russia will not become a model democracy. “Putin’s successor will not be Thomas Jefferson.” Instead, military leaders such as mercenary boss Yevgeny Prigozhin or Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov could seize power. “Immediately after the end of Putin’s regime, whoever replaces him will be just as nationalistic and authoritarian,” Coffey analyses.

In such a situation, the West must take action and try to build a new relationship with Russia: “The US and its partners should learn the failed lessons of the 1990s and not waste resources trying to transform Russian society, economy or government into to transform a Western-style democracy.”

In the moment of weakness, NATO should expand its alliance territory, for example to the Turkic states. China and Turkey would try to fill that vacuum after a collapse of Russian power. Also, some of the Russian federal entities could declare themselves independent.

However, Coffey remains unclear on one point: On the one hand, according to the political scientist, there will be local civil wars by Russian nationalist-trained war veterans, on the other hand, Moscow will “never give up its imperial plans in Eastern Europe”. The Kremlin’s propaganda about the misanthropic Ukrainian government and its own over-emphasis as a big brother state create unity among the Russian population.

Nevertheless, Coffey is convinced: “Ukraine’s success on the battlefield against Russia could offer a unique opportunity to put Russia in its geopolitical drawer for a generation.” The Western Allies should prepare for this now.