Staunton, January 7 – The first sign Russians may not be enthusiastic about a foreign policy move is the appearance of discussions of its costs with the implicit suggestion the Kremlin should be using scarce resources in other ways. That has happened with regard to Putin’s moves in Crimea, Syria, and Libya.
Strikingly, less than two months after Moscow inserted peacekeepers in Qarabagh, a move many Russians have celebrated as a counter to Turkish influence and a return of Russian power to the Caucasus, a prominent Russian portal is raising the question of just how expensive this operation may prove to be.
The Rhythm of Eurasia Internet sest gives an upbeat portrayal of the actions of Russian peacekeepers in demining the area and providing medical assistance to the population, but it headlines its article “The Mission of Russian Peacekeeper in Qarabagh is Costing a Lot” (ritmeurasia.org/news--2021-01-07--missija-rossijskih-mirotvorcev-v-nagornom-karabahe-dorogogo-stoit-52678).
That doesn’t mean that large numbers of Russians are going to be asking that question anytime soon, but it is an indication that, especially in cash-strapped times like those of today, more and more of them are certain to view the Qarabagh operation not just as a strategic move but as something on which money is being spent that they may think should be spent on them.
The Kremlin won’t change course even if these questions become more widespread and insistent, but it may feel constrained about expanding its footprint there especially if questions of cost enter into the debates certain to accompany State Duma elections later this year (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2021/01/qarabagh-war-outcome-opens-way-for.html).