A New World Order? Post-Soviet Eurasia

by Laurence on 5/16/2006 · 3 comments

In a long article in the Carnegie Reporter, Eugene Rumer analyzes the aftermath of the collapse of the USSR, “color revolutions,” and withdrawal of the US military from post-Soviet Central Asia. His conclusion:

The record of the three revolutions in Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan offers plenty of arguments for both sides of this debate to make their points. Kyrgyzstan is a country teetering on the brink of being ungovernable, as competing factions maneuver to consolidate their control on key government institutions and the country’s meager resources. Georgia, despite areas of progress, is facing an uphill struggle to consolidate its independence, sovereignty and launch itself on the path to prosperity, while increasingly concerns are being raised about the quality of its democracy. Ukraine, despite its size, proximity to Europe and resource wealth has stumbled from one crisis to another since the Orange Revolution, occasionally raising questions whether anyone can govern it in the aftermath of that dramatic event.

U.S. policymakers view these three countries as representing hopeful, albeit difficult progress toward democracy and stability. Russian and Chinese foreign policy experts take the opposite view; they see nothing there but the threat of chaos, which holds the danger of cross-border spillover.

A very recent innovation in U.S. policy entails breaking up the new Eurasia into two separate parts. The five former Soviet Central Asian countries have been moved out of the European and Eurasian bureau at the Department of State into the Bureau for South Asian Affairs, renamed as the Bureau for South and Central Asian Affairs. While this change is likely to de-emphasize the Russian aspect of U.S. policy in Central Asia, it is unlikely to diminish the role that Russia continues to play in the region. This change is equally unlikely to bridge the gap between U.S. policy, driven by a strong commitment to democratic change and the region’s ruling elites who fear its destabilizing consequences.

Given Russia’s limited reach and systemic constraints on its foreign policy, it is likely to continue in its role of a reactive, rather than proactive force in the region, whose actions are driven by opportunities that present themselves rather than a clear strategic vision. For the United States then the main challenge is not Russia, but a clear sense of its own priorities and interests in the new Eurasia.

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Brian May 16, 2006 at 7:53 pm

“Russian and Chinese foreign policy experts take the opposite view; they see nothing there but the threat of chaos, which holds the danger of cross-border spillover.”

Could it also be the loss of their strategic influence? America is surely looking out for its own interests in the region, but this sentence implies that Russia and China are merely interested in preserving stability and may be willing to sacrafice their own self-interests to do so.

Kyrgyzstan clearly has become unstable over the past year (I still have high hopes for them, though). But I think Georgia and Ukraine have arguably gained long-term stability because of the ‘revolutions’. Georgia has always been an unstable place, but sigificant reforms have been instituted that have had a positive effect. And while Ukraine has gone through a tulmultuous year they have set a precedent for holding more honest elections. Even if a pro-Kuchma candidate wins next election, it’s going to be much more difficult for him to rig elections henceforward.

Igor July 1, 2006 at 7:10 am

The Womans without scandals can not live!
I will tell You, why!
They – mad!
You think, either as I?
I bad know english! Forgive!

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