Unitary Soviet Russia

WI the Bolsheviks didn't adopt Stalin's nationality policy and kept Soviet Russia as a unitary government instead of creating the various SSRs?

While I expect most non-Communists would say it wouldn't make a difference, the SSRs were just window dressing on a dictatorship, there are points in history where it could have made a difference, even if that was true (which I don't think it was).

  1. World War II or the Great Patriotic War: Would Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia be directly incorporated into a unitary Russia, become "satellites" like Poland, East Germany, etc., or would the SSR idea be invented, just 20-25 years later than OTL?
  2. The UN: The Byelorussian and Ukrainian SSRs had UN memberships separately from the USSR in OTL. Some non-Communists claim this was just an underhanded way of giving the USSR three votes. Supposing this was true (I think it could well have been), how would this have been accomplished without SSRs? Or would Soviet Russia have to do with just one vote?
  3. The 1980s rise of nationalism: Would this have been prevented by "nationalities" not having distinct territories? Or would traditional areas still seek independence without formal territories?
  4. The OTL breakup of the USSR was facilitated by the legal right of SSRs to secede. Without that mechanism, would a breakup have still happened, albeit messier than OTL, or would a unitary Russia transition to capitalism in one piece?
  5. Or would any of the above events be butterflied away?
To recycle an old post of mine:


The problem is that the Bolsheviks in order to win the Civil War, had to appeal to the national sentiments of the non-Russian peoples, who were hostile to the "Russia one and indivisible" ideology of the Whites. To do this, they set up various "autonomous" and sometimes even nominally independent Soviet republics, like Ukraine. "Indeed, during this early period the Ukrainian Soviet Republic maintained diplomatic envoys in Berlin, Vienna, and Warsaw and concluded treaties and was a signatory of the well-known Treaty of Riga , March 18 , 1921." https://books.google.com/books?id=2PNlQKpg5aoC&pg=PA89

Eventually, handling relations between the RSFSR and the "independent" soviet republics by treaties was found too cumbersome, and some kind of federation was required. But it is very unlikely that the republics would simply be abolished. Neither Lenin nor Stalin advocated this. They both favored federation, but had different ideas about it. As I once wrote here:


"Stalin originally wanted the RSFSR to annex all the (nominally independent in the early 1920's) Soviet Republics (Ukrainian, Belorussian, and Transcaucasian) and make them Autonomous Republics of the RSFSR, with the same status as, say, the Bashkir or Yakut ASSR's. Lenin however feared that making all the other peoples part of an explicitly "Russian" state would exacerbate national discontent, and insisted on the creation of a new entity, the USSR, which would embrace all the Soviet republics, including the RSFSR. (One reason he favored this is that he still dreamed of other European nations joining the USSR after a revolution.) Stalin had never been much impressed by Lenin's distinction between "soviet" and "autonomous" republics. "In your theses," he wrote Lenin in 1920, "you draw a distinction between Bashkir and Ukrainian types of federal union, but in fact there is no such difference, or it is so small as to equal zero." https://books.google.com/books?id=smDy35onbtAC&pg=PA270 But ultimately he went along with Lenin, and the USSR was created, though the status of the RSFSR within it always remained something of a problem. (Almost to the end of the USSR, the RSFSR lacked some of the institutions the other Union Republics had, like its own Communist Party, own Academy of Sciences, etc.)

"Nevertheless, Stalin did not oppose a federation along national lines--he just wanted to make it clear that the federation was *Russia.* (Of course whether under Lenin's proposal or Stalin's, the nominal autonomy of each nation would be undermined by the fact that the Communist Party, which governed them all, was strictly centralized.) " https://www.alternatehistory.com/fo...l-lines-within-the-ussr.427983/#post-15809986


Simply abolishing, rather than federating the national republics would alienate the non-Russians. Moreover, keeping entities like Ukraine and Belarus as part of the Soviet federation, served practical purposes in the USSR's appeals beyond its own borders. Many Belarusians and Ukrainians lived in Poland, and the existence of "their own" SSR's would be a magnet to induce them to seek to separate "West Ukraine" and "West Belorussia" from Poland and join the USSR. The same consideration goes to Ukrainians who lived in Romania or Czechoslovakia. For that matter, the Ukrainian SSR exercised a considerable attraction to the Ukrainian diaspora as far away as Canada https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Association_of_United_Ukrainian_Canadians though obviously this appeal waned after news of the 1933 famine became widespread. Likewise, the existence of an Armenian SSR could be used to get portions of the Armenian diaspora from Lebanon and Egypt to Fresno, California to support pro-Soviet "progressive" causes.
It's actually Stalin who proposed the Autonomizatsiya (autonomization) of all SSRs into RSFSR. He even got backing from many high ranking Bolsheviks but eventually backed down due to Lenin's pressure. Had Lenin died earlier and Stalin took over there's a chance that all of the Soviet Republics in 1922 (Belarus, Ukraine and Transcaucasia) would be incorporated as ASSRs instead of being their own republics. Though i'm not sure what would this unitary communist country be called, USSR or Russian SFSR?