NEWSWATCH Carnegie Endowment for International Peace/Eugene Rumer, Paul Stronski: “Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia at TwentyFive-A Baseline Assessment”
The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace undertakes an overview of former Soviet states two-and-a-half decades following the USSR’s collapse.
For nearly twenty-five years following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Russia, Ukraine, and the rest of the former Soviet lands now collectively referred to as Eurasia defied the best and the worst expectations of students of the region’s history. Unfortunately, the worst case has now come to pass with the outbreak of war between Russia and Ukraine. The conflict has cast a long shadow over the entire region, and Russian President Vladimir Putin has put Russia on a dangerous, confrontational course with the United States and Europe that is likely to last for many years.
Central Asia—the region viewed at the outset of its independence as the most likely to fail—has remained relatively stable, or to be more precise, stagnant. The three countries of the South Caucasus remain plagued by the threat of war—the only common feature they share. Georgia continues on its Western trajectory, Armenia is firmly (albeit unhappily) under Russia’s thumb, while Azerbaijan has become an authoritarian kleptocracy that has difficult relations with Russia and the West. The war in Ukraine and the collapse in Moscow’s relations with the West have deeply unnerved the leaderships of all of the Eurasian countries, highlighting the risk of further Russian meddling and aggression—and the inadequacy of Euro-Atlantic security structures. Each of Russia’s neighbors feels vulnerable and uncomfortable about the possibility of getting caught between Moscow and the Western powers in an increasingly zero-sum environment.