Staunton, January 8 – Over the past year, Aleksandr Nosovich says, Russia increasingly faced “a zone of instability” around its perimeter and thus has been compelled to work to maintain order there. In the year ahead, it will face still more such challenges in four key areas and must draw on the lessons of four key developments in the year ahead.
Nosovich, who has gained notoriety for his regular attacks on the Baltic countries in particular and the former non-Russian republics in general, argues that Moscow has no good choice but to apply these lessons in the future (rubaltic.ru/article/politika-i-obshchestvo/20210108-4-klyuchevykh-vyzova-dlya-rossii-na-postsovetskom-prostranstve/).
First of all, he says, the protests in Belarus show that Moscow must play a key role in promoting genuine and not cosmetic constitutional change there. Unless it is genuine, the protests will resume and over time it will become likely that the West will fish in these troubled waters to peel Belarus off from its close relationship with Moscow.
With these changes, Alyaksandr Lukashenka may or may not exit the scene; but there can be no question that his role in Minsk must change. Belarusians will expect nothing less, and Moscow must recognize that long-term stability and the maintenance of Russian influence there will require at least that.
Second, the election of a pro-Western president in Moldova and her call for the withdrawal of Russian peacekeepers from Transdniestria opens the possibility that she will become the latest agent of the West against Russia; and Moscow must act on the basis of that reality rather than reducing the situation to something local and even marginal.
Third, 2020 proved that “the frozen status of post-Soviet conflicts is not eternal” and that those who thought they could remain such in a state of “’no war, no peace’” have “suffered a defeat. In this situation, Russia “must act not to preserve the status quo but in support of real changes.”
What Nosovich calls “the phenomenally successful result of the Karabakh war for Moscow” shows what should be done in Ukraine and elsewhere. Western actors must be frozen out of discussions lest they interfere, and Moscow must be ready to take dramatic actions, including dispatching peacekeepers. For him, the Minsk Group is now a dead letter.
Without mediators from the West “who are useless,” Nosovich argues, “it will be simpler to find a solution” to the problems in the Donbass than it has been with the Minsk process in which Germany and France are involved. If Ukraine refuses to cooperate with Russia, that will be justification for Moscow moving even more unilaterally.
And fourth, the West has become increasingly anti-Russian and worked to break off close ties between the non-Russian countries and Moscow. The coming to power of Joe Biden as US president will only intensify this approach. In response, Nosovich argues, Moscow must adopt a very tough line.
If these former Soviet republics do something that clashes with the vital interests of Russia, the Russian commentator says, the Kremlin “must demonstrate that no dividends that they count on receiving from the West for their Russophobia will compensate for the harm Moscow’s response will entail.”