Staunton, July 13 – Few concepts are more often misunderstood than that of “a failed state.” Such a state is not one on which there are no powerful institutions, but rather it is one in which there is no central authority which exercises control over actions on all of its territory and which at least tries to enforce its own laws on the population.
Tragically, there are more failed states around than many would like to admit; and one of them may very well be the Russian Federation. In a brief comment today, Russian regionalist Vadim Shtepa says that it is “a failed state” because laws inscribed in its own criminal code are not enforced.
Specifically, he says, Moscow shows little or no interest in enforcing Paragraph 353 of Section 34 of that code. That provision specifies that anyone who plans, prepares, unleashes or conducts an aggressive war is subject to imprisonment for a period of seven to fifteen years.” And anyone who engages in a war of aggression faces “the loss of freedom for ten to 20 years.
Such legal provisions may seem meaningless to many. After all, no one is likely to bring Vladimir Putin to justice for his violations of this paragraph. But they are not unimportant because they can become the basis for soldiers and others to refuse to obey illegal orders to engage in such actions.
And that could become increasingly significant if more soldiers leave their posts as some have already in order to avoid being sent to Ukraine. On that, see “Russian Soldiers Increasingly Deserting Their Units to Avoid Being Sent to Fight in Ukraine,” July 11, 2015.
For more general problem of Russia as a failed state, see “Russia’s Aggression Now Reflects RSFSR’s Past Failure to Become a State, Pornitkov Say,” March 18, 2015 here and this author’s “Russia as a Failed State,” Baltic Defense Review, 12:2 (2004) here.