The Soviet Union may have fallen, but its legacy lingers. It lingers around the edges of the Russian Federation, where frozen conflicts based along ethnic lines raise their ugly heads, even thirty years later.

As we have mentioned before, Vladimir Putin is no longer a communist. He is, however, the new tsar of Russia, obediently and expertly restoring imperial Russia one bite at a time. He is starting with the old hinterlands the tsar's coveted, which provided a buffer to turbulent Western Europe, Central Asia, and the Balkans.

The Russian empire was once much larger than it is now. At its zenith, it stretched from Poland to San Francisco. When the USSR fell, many of these buffer zones were returned to their ethnic tribes to govern themselves. However, one of the agendas of the former communist giant was to spread the Russian language throughout the union.

This agenda the USSR accomplished very well. When the wall fell—and the union shortly after—these Russians were left in enclaves throughout the former territories, including the satellites in Eastern Europe. You can see this phenomenon today, boiling from Estonia to Kazakhstan.

Vladimir Putin wants them back.

Read the rest of the piece at OpsLens.

L. Todd Wood is an OpsLens contributor, a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, flew special operations helicopters supporting SEAL Team 6, Delta Force and others.

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