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The assessments of Western experts the impact of the crisis on the development of relations of Russia and CIS countries
Material posted: -Publication date: 27-10-2009

Analyst of the Institute of Central Asia and the Caucasus (Central Asia-Caucasus Institute) M. Laruelle believes that the economic crisis did not weaken, but strengthens the influence of Russia in the "near abroad". This is due to the economic situation, weakened by the crisis of post-Soviet States, allowing Russia to use its financial and geopolitical advantages to gain control over these States. To achieve its main objective, Russia has decided to invest substantial sums in strengthening their sphere of influence in the CIS, despite the economic situation in the world.

Therefore the hopes of some Western observers that have affected Russia's economic crisis will start to ease it in geopolitical terms and will enable other international actors, particularly the United States, to be present on the Eurasian scene was not justified.

At present, Russia is taking all necessary steps to secure a foothold in this space and make it a strategic stronghold to the West. Russia already has made "exile" of the U.S. military from the Manas airbase in Kyrgyzstan, plans to create in the South Caucasus three military bases to counter the U.S. presence in the region and the us-Georgian cooperation. In addition, it seeks to get next to export energy routes leading to the West and to Turkey. The analyst believes that, given the increasing strategic importance of the Black sea as one of the export routes of hydrocarbons, Russia will do everything possible to maintain its presence in this pool, despite the expiration in 2017 of the term of validity of the Russian-Ukrainian agreement on the lease of the naval base in Sevastopol.

M. Laruelle identifies the potential impact of the crisis ", paradoxically, will allow Russia to strengthen its economic position" for a long time. In confirmation of this conclusion, it is mentioned that Russia used a strong fall in the rates of national currencies of CIS countries and proposed to establish General stabilization Fund of 10 billion dollars, she has committed to financing at 3/4. This Russian financial assistance will be able to take advantage of those countries that'll be good for her political concessions. This factor ensures Russia control over certain high-yield sectors in the CIS countries, and providing investment opportunities that had not occurred for a long time.

In the opinion of the American analyst comes to the conclusion that large-scale assistance to Russia, its neighbors will make a geopolitical cost, and now "...all decisions will be taken to Moscow on a legal basis that she is the sponsor...". In this situation the CIS countries are limited in their maneuver and they have no other choice, because neither the EU nor the USA nor China has offered its financial assistance to stabilize their national economies.

Similar opinion is shared by O. Matthews (Owen Matthews) from Newsweek, which notes that although the crisis and destroys the Russian economy, it brought certain geopolitical benefits. Russia returns its dominance over post-Soviet countries that recently achieved independence from her. In the Wake of the global crisis Russia, compared with its neighbours, in economic terms, looks much better.

She never misses a chance to take advantage of this, offering money and loans the old allies. And many of them have already made application for financial assistance. Such a policy, according to the analyst, begins to bear fruit. In particular, it is noted that after the allocation of credit to Belarus and Kyrgyzstan, the leaders of these States went toward Russia: signed agreement giving it the right to place on the territory of Belarus the objects of missile defense; the decision on the withdrawal of the U.S. airbase from Manas. In addition, Russia uses the crisis situation to the military cementing the CIS through the creation of joint rapid reaction forces.

The European Union is trying "to resist Russian expansion", suggesting the EU's Eastern partnership (Eastern Partnership Program), which involves the establishment of closer ties with Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine by facilitating the visa regime and trade relations. The program is planned to connect and Belarus, which offered financial assistance for 350 million euros. However, the EU is busy saving the economies of its members and may not yet more effective to influence the CIS countries, which contributes to their further rapprochement with Russia. For example, the President of Moldova Vladimir Voronin refused to join this partnership, calling it "a plot to surround Russia."

Against Belarus O. Matthews believes that "Russian money and the saber-rattling may be louder of European diplomacy", as the country's economy depends heavily on cheap Russian gas and its debt exceeds 15 billion dollars. Ukraine is in the state close to bankruptcy, and its national gas company at any time may declare a default on payments to the Russian Gazprom. The West is not able to solve the Ukrainian financial problem in the global crisis, and the government of Ukraine was forced to seek help from Russia.

However, as the analyst concludes American, an ambitious strategy of Russia depends on its capacity to pay, which in 2009 may end, but it just will not abandon their plans on post-Soviet space. In this regard, he makes a chilling suggestion: "if Russia runs out of money to buy influence, she may be forced to start to fight for it".

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