Among new books on the former Soviet Union, Erica Fatland’s travelogue, “Sovietistan: Travels in Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan,” grabbed my attention recently. It’s not simply that I wanted to distinguish (finally) between the nations’ consonant-heavy names; I wanted to consider possible futures for neighboring Russia in the wake of its war with Ukraine.
History, culture and current conditions give us some sense of what the former seat of empire once was — a guide of sorts as to what it may become.
Like a modern day Erysikhthon, the mythic king of Thessaly who sought to build a palace but ended up devouring his own flesh, Putin is inflicting as much economic pain on his own country as he exacts on Ukraine. As CNBC’s Christina Wilkie detailed at length, some consider the damage done by Putin to have set Russia’s economy back 30 years.