A report claims the Kremlin is sympathetic to groups agitating for an independent Texas, and has been providing support for the secessionists online.
Nathan Smith, the self-declared “foreign minister” of the Texas Nationalist Movement, a group that wants an independent Texas, has been to numerous conferences in Moscow, where he attracted the attention of Russian media.
The conference Smith attended, the International Russian Conservative Forum, draws in far-right and separatist activists from across the globe. Many of these view Vladimir Putin as a guardian of conservative values despite his ties to the communist KGB and regrets regarding the fall of the Soviet Union. Some even go so far as to call Moscow the “Third Rome.”
The party that organizes the Russian Conservative Forum, Rodinia, works very closely with Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party.
“I’m going to meet with a number of public organizations that are close to [the TNM] in spirit and common values to us. I’m looking for friends,” Smith told a Russian newspaper.
Shortly after the interview was published, dozens of Twitter accounts began tweeting about a “Free Texas.” It is likely that many of these accounts stemmed from the Kremlin’s troll farms, which Putin uses to shift the conversation in foreign media and stir up mischief.
References to Texas have also become increasingly common in Russian official’s statements. In a speech last December, for instance, Putin accused the United States of “grabbing” and stealing Texas from Mexico in the 1830s.
Russian state-run media has also been vocally supportive of secessionist movements across the globe, particularly Scotland, Venice, and Catalonia. Putin has also been a strong supporter of the Eurosceptic movement throughout the European Union, including lending the French National Front, an anti-EU party, $11 million.
“Since the destabilization of the West is on Russia’s agenda, they may try reaching out to U.S. separatists,” Russia expert Anton Shekhovtsov said.
It may be that Russia sees the annexation of Texas as a sort of moral equivalent to their recent seizure of Crimea, as well. Because the U.S. condemns Russian intervention in Ukraine, Russia condemns what they see as similar events in American history.
Some Russian media pundits have also called for a break-up of the United States, much like the U.S.S.R. broke apart in the early 1990s. They believe it will humble the U.S. and serve as some kind of revenge.
Not many fear that the Kremlin will foment revolution in Texas, however.
“It’s just another mischief-making gambit,” NYU professor and Russia expert Mark Galeotti said. “Nothing to be seriously worried about.”