Friday, February 17, 2017

A Re-Energized GUAM Seen Presenting Real Problems for Moscow

Paul Goble

            Staunton, February 17 – As recent events have shown, the increasing propensity of the former Soviet republics to go their own way and even to directly oppose the Russian Federation can create serious problems for Moscow, but a more serious threat is now looming – the possibility that these countries will create multi-national organizations hostile to Moscow.

            That is the judgment of the editors of Nezavisimaya gazeta in a lead article today in response to indications that GUAM – the acronym for Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldova who now make it up – is seeking to make the transition from a talk shop to “a fist” that can defend them against Russia (

            “Twenty years ago,” the editors say, “this structure was created with a pro-Western orientation and several of its members attempted to develop regional cooperation against Russia, but open opposition did not suit all of them” and the group was reduced to “a club of friends’ with summits but without the capacity to act collectively.

            Today, however, after the events in Ukraine and Georgia, some in GUAM are seeking to revive the grouping’s initial purpose as a union opposed to Russia and as one with close ties to the West and to Japan, countries that can help GUAM members individually and collectively.

            It is worth noting, the paper continues, that “all the GUAM countries are united by the existence of conflicts,” in three cases, frozen ones, in one, an ongoing clash.  All have unresolved territorial disputes. And all have a more or less complicated and conflict-ridden relationship with Russia as a result.

            Most GUAM member states or significant portions of each want to become NATO members. And consequently, Nezavisimaya gazeta says, if GUAM does take off and become more significant for its members, then Russia will have “serious problems” and problems that aren’t “somewhere far away but at its own borders.”

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