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M. Czajkowski - The Nagorno-Karabakh War of 2020 – Its Consequences for Russia

M. Czajkowski - The Nagorno-Karabakh War of 2020 – Its Consequences for Russia

Even before the official dissolution of the Soviet Union, the Russian Federation had become an active international player, at least in its closest neighbourhood. After December 1991 Moscow did not possess instruments to conduct global strategies, but it was able to preserve a sphere of influence consisting of the former Soviet republics in South Caucasus (Закавказье), and part of Central Asia (Средняя Азия). Russia used several vehicles to exert its control: economic dependence, the interdependence of political elites, and the so-called frozen conflict strategy. These instruments formed an effective, flexibly implemented mix of policies which the Kremlin had been executing until its influence was stabilized in the early 1990s.

Marek Czajkowski

KBN Commentary no. 2 (74) / 2021

28 January 2021

Even before the official dissolution of the Soviet Union, the Russian Federation had become an active international player, at least in its closest neighbourhood. After December 1991 Moscow did not possess instruments to conduct global strategies, but it was able to preserve a sphere of influence consisting of the former Soviet republics in South Caucasus (Закавказье), and part of Central Asia (Средняя Азия). Russia used several vehicles to exert its control: economic dependence, the interdependence of political elites, and the so-called frozen conflict strategy. These instruments formed an effective, flexibly implemented mix of policies which the Kremlin had been executing until its influence was stabilized in the early 1990s. Of course, it does not mean that all the tensions ceased to exist, all conflicts were resolved, and all of the local ambitions subsided. On the contrary, various countries have tried, more or less effectively, to find some room to pursue their independent interests. This process has been mounting in the 21st century, and currently we witness significant disturbances in the Russian sphere of influence. First of all, Moscow's control is gradually diminishing due to the lack of economic attractiveness and effective soft power. Moreover, it is arguable that the frozen conflict strategy is running its course. The Nagorno-Karabakh war of 2020 is an example of the latter. It has confirmed Azerbaijan's ability to act independently, but it also asserted Turkey as a power highly influential in the area, which quite recently was considered the exclusive Russian sphere of interest.

In the photo: The Turkish TB2 Bayraktar UCAV

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)

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M. Czajkowski - The Nagorno-Karabakh War of 2020 – Its Consequences for Russia