Putin’s push for a new USSR awakens the bloody chaos caused by the collapse of the Soviet Union – Politico

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YEREVAN, Armenia – When Russian President Vladimir Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine, he hoped to relive the glory days of the Soviet Union in the 1950s, when it was at the height of its power. Instead, it led to chaos on a scale not seen since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Across the jagged fringes of Russia’s sphere of influence, from Eastern Europe to the Caucasus and Central Asia, former parts of the once vast Moscow Empire are in outright rebellion or left to fend for themselves while the Kremlin focuses on its increasingly disastrous war.

As she loses influence among her former subjects, new conflicts erupt, alliances form, and old differences open up.

Armenia and Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan started on Tuesday Bombing Towns and villages are deep in Armenia in what marks the most serious escalation in the southern Caucasus since the two former Soviet republics fought a bloody war two years ago.

mediated by Moscow cease-fire It halted the 2020 conflict, and saw the deployment of Russian forces into the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region. However, reports indicate that the Kremlin has withdrawn its best and most experienced soldiers to send them to Ukraine, and in recent weeks, Azerbaijani forces have crossed the line of contact and captured a series of strategic heights, with the Russians unwilling or unable to change them. Back.

Armenia is a member of the Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) military coalition and the country’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan on Wednesday urge The bloc should send “military aid to restore the country’s territorial integrity.” However, other members of the alliance have proven reluctant to intervene with Kazakhstan Unlikely The deployment of troops and Moscow reluctant to get involved in another conflict.

Armenian political analyst Tigran Grigoryan said, after the Collective Security Treaty Organization Failed to send help. “At this point, Russia is neither ready nor able to rein in Azerbaijan.”

Baku has been steadily replacing its relations with Moscow after the collapse of the Soviet Union with closer ties with Turkey, which supplies it with advanced military equipment and trains its forces.

Georgia

It is impossible to miss the blue and yellow Ukrainian flag in Tbilisi, as it hangs from offices and government buildings. Graffiti with expletives about Putin is written on the walls, while a trendy pub stimulate Visiting Russians sign declarations opposing their country’s aggression before being allowed in.

Russian forces and their proxies occupy about a fifth of Georgia’s territory in the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. After Georgia lost a war against Moscow and the unrecognized client states in 2008, Georgia has long left the political orbit of Russia, but is still in third place on the list of its largest trading partners.

Russian forces and their proxies occupy about a fifth of Georgia’s territory in the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia | Daro Solakuri / Getty Images

Although the government has protested loudly against the invasion of Ukraine, it has not implemented economic sanctions against Russia – which does not mean there is no pressure to do more. More than 60 percent of Georgians I asked In the weeks after the war began, the ruling politicians said they had not been tough enough.

The speech has become hotter. Earlier this week, Irakli Kobakhidze, head of the ruling Georgian Dream party, claimed The state should “let the people say if they want to open a second front in Georgia against Russia” by attacking Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Kobakhidze since then He said was joking.

Kazakhstan

In January, Russian troops landed in Kazakhstan as part of the CSTO’s “peacekeeping” mission Charged to suppress mass protests that threatened to overthrow the government. This does not mean that the Kremlin has gained a reliable ally.

Putin appeared on stage alongside Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev at the Saint Petersburg Economic Forum in June, receiving unexpected criticism after declaring that war in Ukraine was necessary to protect two Moscow-backed proxy administrations in the Donbass. Kazakhstan, Tokayev replied, does not recognize “the semi-state territories which, in our view, are what Luhansk and Donetsk represent”. many thanks.

Just weeks later, Tokayev Tell European Council President Charles Michel said his country was concerned “about the risks to global energy security” created by the war, and offered to “use its hydrocarbon potential to stabilize the situation in global and European markets.”

Moscow responded two days later by shutting down the Novorossiysk oil terminal, preventing Kazakhstan from exporting its huge oil and gas reserves through the Caspian Sea. Old World War II naval mines have been blamed for an urgent threat to the facility, but analysts suspect the timing was no coincidence.

Kazakhstan is officially abiding by Western sanctions against Russia, and relations appear to be worsening.

Earlier in August, former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev posted on social media say that “Kazakhstan is an artificial country,” and argued that its “wild lands” were originally colonized by the Russians – a chilling echo of the Kremlin’s rhetoric about Ukraine. The post was later deleted and Medvedev, who is also the deputy head of Russia’s Security Council and who has made a series of increasingly nationalistic and aggressive comments about the war and the West, said he was hacked.

Moldova

Home to less than 3 million people, Moldova was unable to shake off Moscow’s influence; The eastern region of Transnistria is a breakaway republic supported by 1,500 Russian soldiers.

But Moldova’s President Maya Sandu wants them to go, and he strongly supports Ukraine.

Moldova President Maya Sandu calls on Russian forces to leave Transnistria | Ludovic Marin/AFP via Getty Images

“The unjust war waged by Russia against Ukraine clearly shows us the price of freedom,” Sandow said He said.

It was Moldova and Ukraine granted Placing the candidate in June to join the European Union, Brussels is helping the country wean the country from its dependence on Russian energy.

“There is one person who deserves all the medals for setting Moldova on the path of European integration,” said Veselav Ionic, an economist and former parliamentarian, He said Earlier this year, “This is Vladimir Putin.”

Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan

On Wednesday, border guards from the two countries exchanged fire in reported clashes killing two people.

Reports Artillery, armor and other heavy weapons now led to the evacuation of villages on both sides.

The long, winding border they share is poorly demarcated, accusing each other of igniting the crossfire. In the days of the USSR, the borders were insignificant but in recent years Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan have repeatedly come close to the brink of war.

The Russian Foreign Ministry expressed “its readiness to assist the parties in finding a long-term and mutually acceptable solution to border issues” and offered to share its “rich experience in border demarcation.”

However, Russia’s military power in the region is eroding. Russia withdrew 1,500 soldiers from its bases in Tajikistan, RFE / RL mentioned. There were also reports of the rotation of Russian soldiers stationed in Kyrgyzstan.

The rise and fall of empires

This week’s Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Uzbekistan demonstrated the scale of the shift in power.

Putin met in Samarkand with Chinese President Xi Jinping and later He confessed His Chinese counterpart had “questions” and “concerns” about the war in Ukraine.

Vladimir Putin admitted that Xi Jinping has “questions and concerns” about the war in Ukraine | Photo by Salim Stetaiti/AFP via Getty Images

Xi issued a carefully worded statement: “In the face of a changing world, changing times and historical changes, China is ready to work with Russia to demonstrate the responsibilities and leadership of major powers, to instill stability and positive energy in a chaotic world.”

This is a far cry from a “borderless” partnership between spouses announce Before the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

something too He said China will “resolutely support Kazakhstan in defending its independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

There is clearly a new strong player in the area.

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