Russia Near Abroad, Part 6 – Wrapping it up

Almost all neighbors look to Russia for aid

Almost all neighbors look to Russia for aid
Almost all neighbors look to Russia for aid


[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]O[/dropcap]ne should consider these figures, in the interactive graphs above and below, as approximate since different sources have different figures.  In any case, certain patterns are noticeable.  Generally, the three Baltic States are doing relatively well.  Belarus performs exceptionally well especially since it has the blessing of Russia to manufacture and export military hardware.  Judging by the GDP, Kazakhstan’s good relations with the powers, Russia, China and the US are paying huge dividends, though its per capita income is relatively low, which means that it has a large and uneducated population at the moment. Thanks to gas more than oil, Turkmenistan’s GDP is the second highest, but it seems that its expenditure on white marbled structures in the capital, and not on its people, is a shameful negative. Moldova seems to be the poorest and most corrupt of the European countries.  But for corruption, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan can do much better to raise their standard of living; so can many others.  Since the Islamic nations lie mostly east of the Caspian Sea, the issue of Crimea does not affect them directly.  But the danger of Russia exercising it military and economic power always remains.

Just as Eastern Europe looks to NATO for protection against Russia, the three impoverished Islamic nations on the eastern fringe of the Near Abroad look to Russia for protection and development aid.

[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]U[/dropcap]zbekistan’s President Islam Karimov wants Putin to intervene between Uzbekistan and Afghanistan as extremists are spilling across the border.42    Commercially, Uzbekistan’s priority is energy production.  Russia’s Lukoil will, for a start, invest $3.6 b and hopes to increase the investment to $12 b in the Bukhara region.43    Russia’s universities attract 4,000 students, but the demand is much greater.  About 605k Uzbek students applied for higher education in 2015.  Graduates of Uzbek’s 67 institutions of higher learning earn slightly more than low level workers in Russia.  Three Russian universities have branches in Uzbekistan.44

Since Russia is strapped for cash as a result of sanctions, China has overtaken Russia as the largest investor in Uzbekistan, in 2015: $3 b vs Russia’s 2.8 b.45    About 500 Uzbek companies use Chinese aid.  The largest Chinese investment is for the Angren-Pap railway line which allows Uzbeks to bridge the Ferghana Valley.  The railway allows Uzbeks to stay within their country, without traversing neighbouring countries when they want to travel from north to south.

All three countries are suffering from a reduction in remittances from Russia.  Tajikistan’s remittances dropped by 65%, from $3.1b to $1.54b, year over year; Kyrgyzstan’s dropped by 28%.46    Tajikistan relied on 50% of its GDP on remittances from Russia.

The bases have been made good use of by the SCO Special Forces for training exercises. The one at Tokmok, Kyrgyzstan, was American-built and considered “the gold standard in Central Asian construction.”47   Russians also use the Kant air base, Kyrgyzstan, for storing weapons and equipment. Termiz airbase in Uzbekistan was used by the Germans for 13 years to transfer troops and equipment to Afghanistan.  Fifteen hundred military intelligence officers train in Romit Gorge, Tajikistan, to defeat IS who penetrate the country from Syria and Afghanistan.48    Russia has the largest foreign-based force in Tajikistan.  Russia’s 201st motorized Rifle Division is stationed in Dushanbe, the capital and at Qurgonteppa.49

[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]H[/dropcap]ilary Appel50    has offered some ways in which Russia has tried to subjugate its Near Abroad. Control of Russia’s Near Abroad has been a priority even before Putin led the country.  It was KGB policy. Russia will never give up Crimea, just as Israel maintains that it will never give up the Golan Heights.  Putin feels that Ukraine should never go further than an Association Agreement in its attempt to join the EU.  Ukraine, according to Russia, is a domestic problem with a 1000-year history.  What advancement Ukraine has made so far is due to Russian intervention. There are between 36K and 40K Jews in Ukraine, and this period is regarded as their “Golden Age.”  Ukraine is the second homeland of the Jews and Israel played an important part in the Maidan revolution.

Claiming to protect the interests of its expatriates abroad in another method, which is leading people to believe that Putin is trying to extend its frontiers as far as it can.  During this process, land is confiscated, as in Georgia, Ukraine, Moldova and Azerbaijan.

In some ways, poorer countries can be made completely dependent on Mother Russia, as Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Armenia, and Belarus have shown.  Russia also used its economic leverage to make sanctions backfire on Europe, and on countries in the Near-Abroad that chose to forge an independent policy from Moscow.

There is considerable evidence to back the Russian Defense Minister Shoygu’s view that there is an “uncompromising war waged against Russia.”51    Events are interpreted “upside down;” this is the technique of propaganda which both sides master.  “The West has been striking economic, financial and social blows on Russia.”52

[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]T[/dropcap]he three ultimatums that Russia was given in December 2015 fits into the theory that a belligerent ethnic group had 2016 as a goal for World War III, depending hopefully that the new American President could be pliable to this idea.  John Kerry and Victoria Nuland told Russia that Assad had to go; Russia had to get out of East Ukraine by the end of 2016, according to the Minsk Accords; and Putin had to capitulate.53

Nuland54 also lectured to the Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada about her red line for Ukraine.  Victoria Voytsitska, member of Samopomich Union/Self Help, explains: Nuland wanted Minsk 2 implemented; elections should be held in July in occupied territories of Ukraine; US will agree if Donbass is a state or given special status; US might impose sanctions for another 9 months; US will leave Ukraine, but will continue to fight Russia elsewhere, in Syria, Africa and Asia.  Ukrainian solicitor Tatyana Mortyan said that the US showed that they cannot manage Ukraine; the US will break us and return to Russia.  Voytsitska felt that recognising two republics as separate states was a surrender; Russia would be an occupier.  Even though ‘Yat’s’ policy of allowing local authorities, including Donbass and Luhansk, to send representatives to parliament was a good and fair one, he, the Prime Minister, has disappeared from the scene after being manhandled in parliament.55

Monaghan56 hit the nail on the head when he concluded that the West cannot expect cooperation from Russia, when the West places sanctions on it, Russia is persistently attacked, and NATO is expanding.  He noted that deep divisions within NATO-Russia Council were visible in last week’s meeting, and that the Warsaw summit, towards the end of the year, was crucial.  Dr. Andrew Monaghan writes for Chatham House which is a British think-tank, reportedly the best outside the US.

The concluding question that needs to be answered is, what has the West done to make Russia place its nuclear missiles on a war footing?

[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]T[/dropcap]he militant faction within the US wants a third World War in 2016.  Whoever becomes the next President of the USA has, according to this faction, to fight for this goal.  Brexit in Britain and the discomfort with Donald Trump who said that the Palestinians need a viable state are two important issues that would influence going to war.  Unfortunately, when Nuland and Kerry issued Russia three ultimatums, they did not seem to realize that Russia might have an edge over the Pentagon in weapons.  US Army Chief of Staff Mark Milley confirms this view saying that “the gap is not quite distinctive, but theoretically they outrange and outgun us.”57

When the US is made to take an aggressive stand, it is understood that they will never understand the Juche Idea58 which is “the indomitable spirit that becomes stronger and firmer because of the increasingly stringent sanctions and blockade.”  This North Korean idea can be found in other situations that nations confront.  We are noticing it in Russia, Palestine, Cuba, and China.

Russia felt that Clinton’s secret plan to attack Russia59 was no longer secretive as it was leaked by Wikileaks, and that she did not realise the gravity of the problem; the war would no longer be conventional but nuclear and with missiles.  That means that Germany and Poland where weapons would be stacked could be under a nuclear cloud before war was officially declared.  The scenarios of a nuclear war are difficult to comprehend.

To reduce the burden on the US, uneasy Eastern European countries are building military blocs to defend themselves. Time will tell how effective these will be.  The Visegrad Group (V4), Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia, plus some Nordic countries might form one group.60   Another group that might emerge is one taking in most of the East European countries, including the Baltic and Scandinavian.  For these groups, Article 5 of NATO would still be the most effective tool for cohesion.61

Poland, Lithuania and Ukraine have formed the Joint Brigade with 4,000 troops, operational from 2017.  While Poland and Lithuania are NATO members, Ukraine is a low level NATO member of Partnership for Peace.62

NATO had good peaceful intentions when the NATO-Russia Council (NRC) was created in May, 2002.  NRC replaced the Permanent Joint Council (PJC) forum for consultation created by the 1997 Russia-NATO Founding Act.  Under PJC the relationship format was ‘NATO + 1,’ but under NRC, Russia and NATO are supposed to meet as equals ‘at 29’.  This is why Putin always insists that Russia has to be treated as an equal.  Russia is not prepared to listen to ultimatums, as the ones that Kerry and Nuland issued.  NATO had the Budapest Agreement which guaranteed Ukrainian independence jointly by Russia and NATO.  But the Agreement was treated as null and void by one party.  The Russian attack, whether deliberate or not, between 6 Sukhoi S-30 Russian fighters and a couple of Israeli jets over Syrian airspace, on the night of 1October 2, 2015, seems to have brought a sea-change in US-Israeli thinking. Judging by Nuland’s speech to the Ukrainian parliament, NATO will not fight Russia over Ukraine, but will fight in Africa, Syria and Asia.  The aerial incident was not reported accurately, according to Russian media.  Those that wished for a World War III have been defanged.

References

  1. Stefan Kirchner, “Crimea’s declaration of independence and the subsequent annexation by Russia under international law,” Journal of International Law, January 9, 2015.

  2. “Russian Defense Minister names Russia’s main task,” pravda.ru, April 24, 2016.

  3. “Concept of foreign policy has changed for Estonia,” baltictimes.com, 27.7.2016.

  4. Mikhail Kulkushin, “Estonia wants more NATO troops – but only if they aren’t black,” observer.com, 22.2.2016.

  5. “Russia and Estonia exchange spies after Kohver row,” bbc.com, September 26, 2016.

  6. Bartoz Bieliszczuk, “David and Goliath? Estonia-Russia relations,” visegradplus.org, 10.1.2015.

  7. “Panic in Estonia: Russia kills its economy at one fell swoop,” pravda.ru, 15.4.2016.

  8. Mathew Luzmovre, “Latvia struggles with restive Russian minority amid regional tensions,” america.aljazeera.com, June 13, 2015.

  9. “Latvia-Russia relations in deepest crisis in 20 years,” sputniknews.com, 12.9.2015.

  10. Carl J. Williams, “Latvia, with a large minority of Russians worries about Putin’s goals,” latimes.com, April 13, 2016.

  11. Lydia Tomkiw, “Russia-NATO relations, 2016: Armed aggression, Latvia calls for more military troops,” ibtimes.com, 24.2.2016.

  12. Embassy of Latvia, “Relations between Latvia and Russia,” mfa.gov.lv, 29.9.2015.

  13. “Latvia wants Putin to apologize for Soviet occupation,” pravda.ru, 22.2.2013.

  14. Jeremy Shapiro, “The Russian threat to Lithuania: An interview with Foreign Minister Linas Linkervicius,” brookings.edu.

  15. “Lithuania-Russia relations,” globalsecurity.org, no date.

  16. Adanas Abromaitis, “Nuclear weapons in Lithuania; defense against Russia or target for terrorists,” baltic-review.com, April 16, 2016. Also see Ingvar Henry Lotts, “Russia invasion: two train stations in Lithuania have been cordoned off…” balticreveiw.com, March 19, 2015.

  17. “Lithuania, Poland, Ukraine to launch Joint Brigade in 2017,” defensenews.com, January 25, 2016.

  18. CIA Factbook – Belarus

  19. Siarhei Bohdan & Ryhor Astapenia, “Why Belarus KGB detained the country’ former top businessman,” belarusdigest.com, March 18, 2016.

  20. Siarhei Bohdan, “How Belarus disappointed Russia in Ukraine and Syria,” belarusdigest.com, December 18, 2015.

  21. “Belarus eager to bolster trade, economic cooperation with foreign partners,” belarus.by, April 15, 2016.

  22. cit. Bohdan.

  23. Chris Biggers, “Russian airbase in Belarus remains in limbo,” bellingcat.com, December 27, 2015.

  24. Mikalai Anischacka, “Is Belarus and Russia’s ‘brotherly love’ coming to an end?” theguardian.com, May 29, 2015.

  25. Jens Malling, “The Value of a Frozen Conflict,” mondediplo.com, March 2015.

  26. Luke Harding, “Russia ready to annex Moldova region, NATO commander claims,” thegurardian.com, March 23, 2014.

  27. org.

  28. “Activists in Moldova say NATO has no place in their country,” eadaily.com.en, February 24, 2016.

  29. “Plahotniuc,” moldovanpolitics.com, no date; also see, “Berlusconi of Moldova – Plahotniuc – a Berlusconi of Moldova?” moldovanpolitics.com, December 15, 2015.

  30. “Inside the uprising against Moldova’s Donald Trump?” dailybeast.com, no date.

  31. “European integration and lost billion: Does Europe seek ‘suicide’ of Moldovan elite?” eadaily.com, August 20, 2015.

  32. “Russia tightens its hold on Armenia,” stratfor.com, November 2, 2015.

  33. Marianna Grigoryan, “Armenia faces cash crunch as Russian remittances slump,” eurasianet.org, April 9, 2015.

  34. “Poland could soon be home to ‘more NATO than ever’ Stoltenberg says,”rt.com, 18.1.2016.

  35. Bruce Pannier, “A new wave of ethnic Russians leaving Kazakhstan,” referl.org, February 9, 2016.

  36. Catherine Putz, “Russia paying less to lease Kazakh missile testing sites,” thediplomat.com, March 8, 2016.

  37. Samuel Ramani, “The Emerging China-Kazakhstan Defense Relationship,” thediplomat.com, December 23, 2015.

  38. “Relations with Kazakhstan,” nato.int, April 7, 2016.

  39. Ibid.

  40. “Kazakhstan unveils plan to end all wars; details to come,” eurasiannet.org, April 19, 2016.

  41. Dominic Evans, (ed.) et al, “Uzbekistan wants restart of Afghan peace talks, sees Russian role,” reuters.com, 26.4.2016.

  42. “Energy cooperation among Russia-Uzbekistan’s priorities – Putin,” tass.ru, April 26, 2016.

  43. “Uzbekistan: Russia drawing students in droves,” eurasianet.org, 26.4.2016.

  44. “Uzbekistan: Russia loses top trader status to China,” eurasianet.org, 27.4.2016.

  45. Catherine Putz, “A Blurry Union: Kyrgyzstan and the Eurasian Economic Union,” thediplomat.com, February 18, 2016.

  46. Joshua Kucera, “SCO forces train at US-funded base in Kyrgyzstan,” eurasianet.org, 23.4.2016.

  47. Joshua Kucera, “Russia and allies practice fighting ISIS in Tajikistan,” eurasiannet.org, 24.4.2016.

  48. Catherine Putz, “Why is Russia cutting troops in Tajikistan,” eurasiannet.org, 5.2.2016.

  49. Hilary Appel, Professor of Government, “The Near-Abroad factor: why Putin stands firm over Ukraine,” nationalinterest.org, May 23, 2014.

  50. Op.cit.

  51. Interview by Inna Novikova, “America delivers 3 ultimatums to Russia,” pravda.ru, 24.12.2015.

  52. Ibid.

  53. Lyuba Lulko, “Nuland defines a “red line” for Ukraine,” pravda.ru, 28.4.2016.

  54. “Arseniy Yatsenyuk disappears in Ukraine: Fellows are at a loss,” pravda.ru, 28.4.2016.

  55. Dr. Andrew Monaghan, “No going back to business as usual for NATO and Russia,” chathamhouse.org, 25.4.2016.

  56. “Pentagon General: Russia outguns US,” pravda.ru, April 8, 2016.

  57. “North Korea Foreign Minister: Aggressive US will never understand the Juche Idea,” pravda.ru, 22.4.2016.

  58. Lisa Karpova, translator, “Wikileaks reveals NATO attack plan against Russia,” pravda.ru, 23.12.2010.

  59. “About the Visegrad Group,” visegradgroup.eu.

  60. Andreas Umland, Sr. Research Fellow at the Institute for Euro-Atlantic Cooperation in Kyir, “Countering Russian Expansion: Blueprints for a new security alliance,” ecfr.eu, 18.4.2016. Also see, Ioan Mircea Pascu, former Minister of Defense, member of EU Parliament and Atlantic Council’s Strategic Adviser’s Group, “NATO & EU: Centrifugal forces and fragmentation?” ukrainianweek.com, 20 June, 2011.

  61. “Lithuania, Poland, Ukraine to launch Joint Brigade in 2017,” defensenews.com, January 25, 2016.


Note:
1. The graphs presented above are interactive. Hover with your mouse over the bars for additional info.
2. Text in Blue points to additional data on the topic.

Henry D'Souza is a prolific author who has written over 60 papers and 4 books, of which 2 books, 1 booklet and 28 papers were published. He is a distinguished sportsman, having represented Kenya in Field Hockey and also played tennis for the country.

Henry currently resides in Canada.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here