Is Russia Pushing for Texas Secession?

Texas secessionists rally in Austin.
Texas secessionists rally in Austin.

Surely you haven't forgotten about the Texas Nationalist Movement? Their quest to secede from the United States so far has won little more than sarcastic newspaper headlines, all that was before Texas separatists had the tacit support of the Russian government.

This news arrived via Politico, which read some tea leaves/Russian language newspapers and detected an unmistakable pattern of pro-secession rhetoric emanating from the general direction of Moscow. Much of this is diffuse, the product of pro-Russian nationalism and probably not directed by the Kremlin, like this newspaper Q&A with TNM "foreign minister" Nathan Smith, who visited St. Petersburg this spring for a gathering of far-right Russian political groups. According to Politico, the paper described TNM as “hardly a marginal group,” and "quoted Smith liberally on the excellent prospects for a partial breakup of the United States." The interview, according to the piece, was picked up by the "Kremlin’s famed troll farms," and promoted heavily on Twitter.

Sometimes, this talk comes directly from the government or through media more closely aligned with the state, typically as a way of criticizing the United States' hypocrisy when it criticizes Russian land grabs. In December, President Vladimir Putin bristled at complaints that it was "unfair that Siberia, with its immeasurable wealth, belongs entirely to Russia. Unfair, how do you like that? And grabbing Texas from Mexico was fair?" And when Russia annexed Crimea, the pro-Putin newspaper Pravda likened that, too, to the U.S. annexation of Texas. “If one accepts the current status of Texas despite its controversial origin story, then they are more than obliged to recognize the future status of Crimea,” the paper wrote. Pravda also chimed in in February when law enforcement raided a secessionist meeting in East Texas: “These events can serve as a signal to start the collapse of the United States.”

None of which, come to think of it, suggests that Russian officials have any interest in Texas secession except as an offhanded PR tool. The most direct evidence of official Russian support cited by Politico comes not from Putin but from the speaker of Chechnya's parliament, who threatened that if the U.S. increased the supply of arms to pro-Ukrainian forces, "we will begin delivery of new weapons to Mexico" and "resume debate on the legal status of the territories annexed by the United States, which are now the U.S. states of California, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Colorado and Wyoming." He probably just forgot to mention Texas.

None of which is proof that Putin hasn't teamed up with Texas secessionists to deliver a metaphorical kick to Obama's 'nads. It's just that the evidence so far is rather thin.

Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.


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