Rebuilt Empire or a New Collapse: Geopolitical Visions of Russian Students
This paper presents findings from in-depth interviews (N = 136) conducted among students at leading Russian universities. Qualitative analysis reveals a three-way divide in how the students imagine Russia’s future. The largest group is optimistic about Russia, seeing it as a global power. A second, smaller group expects Russia to decline in the coming years, while the third group is undecided and unwilling to make forecasts. The paper considers the arguments of the ‘optimists’ and ‘pessimists’, who respectively backed and criticized Crimea’s incorporation into Russia. The paper highlights the association between support for the annexation and optimism about Russia’s future.