When a Russian official says that “borders are not eternal,” it’s probably a pretty good idea to sit up and take notice.
And when that official refers to Russia’s neighbors as “so-called countries” it’s probably a pretty good idea to be alarmed.
Even more so when that official happens to be a State Duma deputy from the illegally annexed and occupied Crimean peninsula.
Last week, State Duma deputy Pavel Shperov called for Moscow to take back what he called the “eternal Russian lands” of northern Kazakhstan.
Shperov added — and I am quoting here — that “this will happen in the near future.”
Now it’s worth noting that Shperov is a member of Vladimir Zhirinovsky’s nationalist LDPR, a party the Kremlin often uses as a stalking horse to float and test controversial ideas.
And sometimes those controversial ideas floated by Zhirinovsky and his cohorts — like annexing Crimea and invading the Donbas, for example — actually come to fruition.
So does this mean that Russia is about to invade Kazakhstan?
Probably not. Moscow has its hands full in the Donbas at the moment.
But what Shperov’s comments do seem to suggest is that Vladimir Putin’s regime is feeling emboldened.
What they suggest is that the Kremlin believes its goal of restoring imperial dominance over Russia’s neighbors is truly within reach.
And what they suggest is that Crimea and the Donbas didn’t mark the end of Russia’s expansion in the former Soviet space — but rather, that it was just the beginning.