“The so-called ‘unification of Russian lands around Moscow’ was in fact an uninterrupted civil war and it became the field of battle on which were tried many of the principles of the imperial policy of the future.”
From Moscow’s perspective, “the imperial conquests were a continuation of the conquest of sovereign Russian principalities, of those natural state formations on the basis of which broke apart the archaic Kievan Rus and which in principle had a tendency toward a stable national existence as is shown in the history of Tver, Novgorod and Pskov.”
Third, Anisimov continues, “there is the tradition of the medieval Russian ideology with its characteristic ideas about a certain special role for Russia and Russians in world history – ‘Moscow is the third Rome,’ the exceptional religious unity of Orthodoxy, the ‘right’ of Russia to ‘the inheritance’ of Byzantium, ” ideas which have continued to this day albeit in different forms.
And fourth, there were those features which reflected the international and geopolitical notions accepted more broadly in the world of “’the rules of the imperial game,’” which posited the division of the world among great powers and which Russia could not fail to view itself as entitled to a part of.
Like I keep saying — Russia is a state looking for a culture. Ukraine, a culture looking for a state.