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World Crises in the former USSR: the limits of Russian influence

01:10  13 october  2020
01:10  13 october  2020 Source:   rfi.fr

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Russia stands for peace. And the Russians observe with a great humanitarian grief how two ancient peoples So I can only say to those citizens of the former USSR republics who don’t wish a dark fate for their children: learn the Russian Putin and Russia are facing a very serious crisis in Belarus.

The Soviet Union seemed formidable in the mid-1980s, so why did it collapse in just a few years? Due to the weak economy and internal ethnic tensions? The money was also used to “bribe the elites” in the form of consumer goods that the state bought from the West since the USSR could not produce

Vladimir Poutine et son ministre de la Défense Sergei Shoigu le 25 septembre 2020. © Mikhail Klimentyev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP Vladimir Poutine and his Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu on September 25, 2020.

Belarus, Nagorno-Karabakh and Kyrgyzstan: the last few weeks have seen an increase in crises in the post-Soviet space. These repeated crises cause concern in Moscow, but also a recognition of helplessness, because the Kremlin has failed to play the role of arbiter that has been due to it since the end of the Soviet era.

From our correspondent in Moscow,

It is in Nagorno-Karabakh that Russian impotence is most glaring. After two weeks of wait-and-see policy, Moscow’s diplomatic efforts ended in stark failure. The truce negotiated on the night of Friday 9 to Saturday 10 October by Sergei Lavrov, the head of Russian diplomacy, was shattered in just a few hours. This is a disavowal for Moscow, which nevertheless maintains good relations with Armenia and with Azerbaijan and which, in 2016, only needed four days to silence the guns in the independence enclave with an Armenian majority. .

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Yes Russians are welcome to the former republics of the USSR . With exception for the Baltic states, citizens of the USSR got along very well together. Besides, Russian and their past subjects’ history is not only about oppression. There are some parts of Russian mentality and culture (and Soviet as

The Soviet Union was also doomed because democratization awoke national movements in the USSR ’s national republics . The supply of cheap labor had run out. How do you take the Chinese approach in the face of a colossal financial crisis and budget deficit?

Four years later, Russian influence seems to have eroded in a region that is nevertheless part of its near abroad, and part of its traditional zone of influence. Russian diplomacy will perhaps succeed despite everything in turning the tide, and in imposing a lasting truce? Sergey Lavrov is continuing to do this by hosting his Armenian counterpart in Moscow on Monday. But for now, it's a deadly war playing out in the Caucasus, just a hundred kilometers from the Russian border. A major source of uncertainty and destabilization for the whole region, and therefore for Russia.

The Belarusian Dilemma

The war in Nagorno-Karabakh has broken out as two other Russian allies, Belarus and Kyrgyzstan, are destabilized by post-election turmoil. First problem for Moscow, these two countries belong to the two political and economic alliances founded by Russia to strengthen its ties in the post-Soviet zone: the Collective Security Organization and the Eurasian Economic Union. A particularly worrying weakening in the case of the second alliance, which has only five members, and among them Armenia.

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fear of Russian influence ; fear of losing cultural identity, diluted identity; resentment of Soviet occupation, desire for these people to go home wherever that is; gov't unity: pro-EU elites: regional revival; Sajudis; Russian minorities in the Baltics: competitive assimilation and settler colonialism.

After the dissolution of the Soviet Union ( USSR ) in December 1991, about 25 million ethnic Russians in post- Soviet states found themselves living outside the Russian Federation. All former Soviet citizens had a time window within which they could transfer their former Soviet citizenship to Russian

Second difficulty, the protest in the street of rigged elections is a scenario which strongly displeases in Moscow, where one fears just as much what is inevitably considered as “color revolutions” manipulated from abroad, as the contagion effect that these movements could create in the region.

Faced with the risk of contagion, and the weakening of its main allies, the Kremlin has only limited room for maneuver, and a difficult choice to say the least in Belarus. If Vladimir Putin lets go of Alexander Lukashenko, it will be analyzed as an admission of weakness, but if he supports him anyway, he risks alienating a good part of the Belarusian population for a long time.

Turkey and China on the lookout

After having given the impression, in recent years, of using crises and power struggles to strengthen Russia's place on the international scene, Vladimir Putin is faced with upheavals that weaken its allies, and which testify to a loss of regional influence.

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Crises also developed in Russia 's relations with Georgia and Moldova, both former Soviet republics accusing Moscow of supporting separatist entities in their territories. influence in the former communist states of Europe, whether those states want Russian influence or not. At the same time

Putin sought to rebuild Soviet Russian Empire in another form. Citing that the history of Russia , its Russia may also feel that Ukraine is taking from it when it should not – as with recent gas crises The reconsolidation of Russia has to be done in the next ten years while former USSR citizens are alive.

This accumulation of crises brings another peril for the Russia of Vladimir Putin, because the countries of the former USSR are courted by several regional powers. In Central Asia, it is China that is on the alert and is spending a lot of money to invest in the countries of the region. This is evidenced by the mega-infrastructure projects linked to the "New Silk Road".

In the Caucasus, it is Turkey that would like to compete with Moscow, as shown by its support for the Azerbaijani offensive on Nagorno-Karabakh. Finally, in Belarus, there is a risk that part of the population will turn away from Russia to prefer Europe - as was the case in Ukraine in 2014.

“2020 is the year when Russia sees the bottom from the abyss, summarizes in an editorial the daily newspaper with great circulation Moskovski Komsomolets, and we do not think of the coronavirus, but of the foreign policy ”.

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