Texas secessionists aren’t giving up their fight to make the Lone Star State a true lone state, and they seem to be prepared to link arms with unlikely allies. According to the Los Angeles Times, Texas secessionists cozied up with anti-Western separatist groups at a Kremlin-funded conference in Moscow earlier this week, hosted by a seven-foot Russian dude “who wears crocodile leather shoes” and leads Russia’s Anti-Globalist Movement.
Smack dab in the middle of this secessionist’s paradise—dubbed the Dialogue of Nations—was Nate Smith, the self-anointed “foreign minister” of the Texas Nationalist Movement. Smith joined representatives from separatist groups hailing from Europe, North Africa, and even Hawaii and California. He promised the room that, someday, Texas would be able to “formally exchange ambassadors with your free and independent countries.”
The story gets stranger. According to the Times, Alexander Ionov—the aforementioned crocodile-shoe wearing leader of the small anti-American group that organized the conference—said that the Russian government chipped in with a “grant” of $55,000 to pay for the conference at a swanky hotel close to the Kremlin, and the rest of the money came from private donors from “Texas and other countries.” As the Times notes, Western leaders have long suspected Russian President Vladimir Putin’s administration supports separatist and far-right ultranationalist movements throughout Europe, so it’s no surprise that Russia would welcome the opportunity for a Texit to potentially destabilize the U.S., even though such a move is pretty much impossible. Still, it’s fascinating to think that the Texas independence movement has drawn the attention of Russia.
From the Times:
Moscow uses these gatherings to promote its political agenda, gain more political leverage in the West and push for the lifting of Western sanctions imposed on Moscow after its 2014 annexation of Crimea and support of the separatists in eastern Ukraine, a former lawmaker with the ruling United Russia party said.
“The more the West is disunited, the more beneficial it is to Russia,” Sergei Markov said, adding that the secession of California and Texas—a prospect that would appear to be something of a long shot—would “undoubtedly benefit” the Kremlin.
While a Texit-Moscow alliance certainly sounds outlandish, it isn’t the first time pro-Texit leaders attended a Russia-backed anti-Western conference. According to Politico, “foreign minister” Smith traveled to St. Petersburg last year for a conference “dominated by fascists and neo-Nazis railing against Western decadence.” (Smith was photographed wearing a cowboy hat at that anti-Western gathering.) During the conference last year, Smith gave an interview with a Russian newspaper, which characterized the tiny Texit movement as “hardly a marginal group.” According to Politico, in the article, Smith “declared that the Texas National Movement has 250,000 supporters—including all the Texans currently serving in the U.S. Army—and they all ‘identify themselves first and foremost as Texans’ but are being forced to remain Americans.” This was likely a bit of an exaggeration on the Russian newspaper’s part. It seems Russia really wants to make Texit happen.
While the Texas Nationalist Movement has largely been ignored stateside, some of the groups Texit members were hobnobbing with in Russia have far more sinister reputations. For example, Italy’s Northern League, which was present at the most recent conference, is a far-right group whose platform is mostly based on xenophobia (Islamophobia in particular), and has gained considerable political power in Italy as of late, part of a larger wave of far-right parties sweeping across Europe.