Two years ago, the Russian tabloid Express Gazeta published a series of maps depicting its vision of Europe 23 years hence. Given the recent tensions in Ukraine and elsewhere, the maps are proving disturbingly prescient a mere two years later — which hasn't gone unnoticed by Russian nationalists.
According to Express Gazeta, the maps were compiled after analyzing "open source" information from the CIA, GRU (Russian intelligence), and a number of research institutes, along with Alvin Toffler, Zbigniew Brzezinski and Samuel Huntington. It's a dubious claim at best.
Not surprisingly, the maps are, in the words of Foreign Policy's Frank Jacobs, "a cartographic illustration of Russian wish fulfillment, reflecting the hopes and frustrations of at least a small segment of Russian public opinion." And indeed, though the maps were compiled in 2012, a nationalist Russian blog recently republished them with renewed enthusiasm given the events in Ukraine.
Eerily, the maps show an annexed Crimea (which has happened), along with an absorbed Donbass region of eastern Ukraine, an area that's currently experiencing something akin to a proto-civil war.
Elsewhere, European nations appear divided along ethnic lines, primarily the result of renewed tensions wrought by economic turmoil, burgeoning nativism, and growing EU skepticism. It shows an independent Scotland (which is actually happening), and a united Ireland. The Basque Country has split from Spain, leaving the rest of the country as a Spanish Confederacy. France also loses some territory to the Basques, but experiences "multicultural collapse" due to the failure to assimilate immigrants from France's former African colonies, resulting in the creation of an "Arab Piedmont" in the south east. Belgium also splits along ethnic-linguistic lines.
In central Europe, Italy splits in two, Bosnia-Herzogovina is wiped out and absorbed by Croatia and Serbia, and Turkey obtains Albania and Kosovo. As for Poland:
But poor Poland. Once a firm Slavic friend, then a staunch communist ally, now a wannabe Westie, Poland is punished for its disloyalty to Mother Russia by dismemberment. In the west, Germany reclaims coastal Pomerania and inland Silesia. Berlin even reabsorbs East Prussia, forcing Russia itself to abandon the northern half of that territory. It seems strange that Russia would willingly part with its westernmost territory, but the point being made takes precedence over the sacredness of Russia's borders: to drive home to Warsaw the foolishness of stepping out from under Russia's protective umbrella.
Meanwhile, Subcarpathian Ruthenia declares independence, an area that runs along the Slovak-Ukraine border.
And in Eastern Europe, a disintegrating European Union allows Russia to take control of Russian-majority areas from the Baltic states. Estonia loses the Narva District, an area surrounding the mainly ethnic-Russian town of Narva, Latvia loses the Dvinsk Region, around the small city of Daugavpils, while Moscow subordinates Belarus into a region of Russia.
This cartographic fantasy panders to Russia's foreign-policy frustrations by predicting future defeats for its "enemies" and future victories for itself. If 2035 might seem a long time to wait, that too is par for the course: Predictions gain traction the further into the future they're placed.
Laugh if you want. However ludicrous this map might seem now, compared with the way things looked back in 2012, the situation on the ground sure seems to be moving in this direction.
Read a more detailed analysis at Foreign Policy.