Kremlin guru predicts Vladimir Putin will rule new Soviet empire

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A Kremlin academic has predicted that the global economic crisis will pave the way for Vladimir Putin to rule over a reconstituted Soviet empire stretching from central Europe to the Canadian border within four years.

Igor Panarin, the dean of the Russian foreign ministry's diplomatic academy, gave fellow patriots the opportunity to indulge their wildest imperial fantasies with a startling projection of how geopolitics will change over the next decade.

In an interview with the venerable Izvestia newspaper, famous for its turgid outpourings during the Cold War, he predicted the birth of a powerful "Eurasian Alliance", led by the Russian prime minister, with a single currency and parliament based in St Petersburg.

Asked if he saw the rebirth of the Soviet Union, Mr Panarin replied: "Not only the Soviet Union, but also the Russian empire."

While his views may be regarded as slightly eccentric in the West, the professor is treated with great respect within Russia.

The conflict will be so severe, he predicts, that the United States will disintegrate with Alaska returning to Russian control, California becoming a Chinese colony, Texas falling to Mexico and an east coast rump seeking the protection of the European Union.

In his latest projections, the professor provided fresh insight as to how Russia would take advantage of both the economic crisis and the collapse of the United States to emerge as a great empire under the benevolent guidance of Mr Putin.

Over the eight years that he was president, Mr Putin, who changed jobs last year, cannily paved the way for the establishment of the new empire by forging strategic alliances with ex-Soviet states and with China.

As a result the new Russian empire would be built on a reformed Soviet Union, minus the Baltic states, as well as Alaska. In addition, Mr Putin's new government in St Petersburg would play a dominating role in Iran and the subcontinent.

The news is better for Europeans than for the Americans, with the European Union joining China and Russia's "Eurasian Union" as part of a triumvirate of global domination. Eastern Europe, however, would fall under Russia's sphere of influence again, he told The Daily Telegraph.

Mr Panarin said that his prognosis was not intended as an April Fools' Day joke.

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