Staunton, October, 22 – The scenario Moscow used in Crimea “could be repeated in various places in the post-Soviet space,” Russian analysts say, but at present, Moscow lacks the resources to do everywhere it might like, thus limiting the number of such cases to Transdniestria and a few others.
On the “Svobodnaya pressa” portal today, Andrey Ivanov says that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s recent statements about Moldova and Transdniestria show that Chisinau’s moves in a Ukrainian-like direction mean that Moscow is ready to pursue “a Crimean scenario” in the latter (svpressa.ru/politic/article/101604/).
But several experts with whom the journalist spoke said that Moscow is unlikely to use that strategy in other places where it might primarily because it currently lacks the resources to do so but also because it remains unclear whether the West intends to launch a major effort to try to pull these countries “out of the zone of Russian influence.”
Aleksandr Karavayev of the Moscow Center for the Study of the Post-Soviet Space told Ivanov that there is instability in various parts of that space in large measure because “the social-political conflict over the disintegration of the Soviet Union passed along the entire line of the continental borders of a former unified country.”
In some places, the West has intervened to try to pull these countries away from Russia and Russia has responded, but there have been major changes within these countries and also in the West whose leaders are very much divided concerning how far to challenge Moscow for control in the region.
“Up to now,” he continued, “we do not see a clearly expressed passionate impulse for assembling the lands in the spirit of a neo-imperial paradigm. I still do not see the presence of resources for such a neo-imperial breakout. Russia must be prepared in advance [for that and not just financially] in the Reserve Fund.
“We must build up human resources, a high technological potential and a fully-reformed military,” Karavayev said. At that point, we will be able to say that Russia has not simply ‘risen from its knees’ but is looking at the world in a new way and is offering it a new model of integration.” That will mark the end of disintegration and the beginning of reintegration.
Ivanov also spoke with Yury Solozobov, the director of international projects at the Moscow Institute of National Strategy. He said that the question of the future application of a Crimean strategy to Russia’s neighbors depends not only on what the West does but how those countries react.
If Russia’s neighbors try to turn away from Moscow as Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova have done, they will be punished as they have been, Solozobov says. If they don’t, they will not face problems from Moscow although they may in some cases face problems created by the West which may use color revolutions against them.
The country which faces the greatest risk of such Western actions now is Azerbaijan because of oil and logistical concerns. Indeed, the Moscow expert says, there are already clear indications that the West is seeking to provoke a color revolution there. The risks that the West will do so in Central Asia are small, but countries there face threats from the south.
After 1991, Moscow deferred to the West rather than sought to protect the interests of what Solozobov says are the interests of “25 million of our compatriots, not all of whom live well.” But now Moscow is focusing on their interests and is prepared to combat discrimination against them in many ways.
According to Solozobov, “the new states were formed along the administrative borders of the union republics,” borders that were drawn in Moscow for various reasons. Sometimes that divided peoples, including the Russians. “Real borders,” he insisted, “pass where people have shed blood by defending the land of their ancestors.”
Eurasia, he continued, is now entering “a second period of the disintegration of the Soviet empire,” one in which the two major geopolitical unions, the Eurasian and European one, cannot coexist “without buffer states.” Those countries which do not want to remain neutral “will inevitably fall victim to economic and territorial disintegration.”