RUSI JournalVolume 164Issue 2members only

Russia’s Compatriots: Instruments or Responsibility?


Main Image Credit Pro-Russian demonstrators express their support for the Russian population and the Crimea referendum, April 2014. Courtesy of PA Images/Karli Saul


The Kremlin sees Russian populations as valuable assets in its foreign policy.

In the wake of Russia’s military interventions in Georgia and Ukraine, foreign observers have repeatedly warned of the risks posed by the sizeable presence of ethnic Russians, Russian speakers and Russian nationals – collectively referred to as ‘compatriots’, or sootechestvenniki, in Russia – in former Soviet states. In this article, Lincoln Pigman contextualises Moscow’s expansive definition of the compatriot with reference to domestic politics and regional developments, and

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