THE UNITED STATES AND RUSSIA IN THE POST-SOVIET EAST: WHAT IS IN STORE?

Dina MALYSHEVA


Dina Malysheva, D.Sc. (Political Science), leading research associate, Institute of World Economy and International Relations, RAS (Moscow, Russian Federation)


The tragedy of 11 September, 2001 and the counter-terrorist operation in Afghanistan changed the situation in the post-Soviet East (the Central Asian and South Caucasian states) in the most radical way. A new geopolitical player, the United States, has rushed into the vast region until recently regarded as Moscows domain of sorts.

How do these developments coordinate with the interests of Russia in the area that it still considers the sphere of its, even though much narrower, influence? Which aspects can attract concerted efforts of Russia, the United States, and the Central Asian and South Caucasian countries and which can drive them apart?

The United States in the Post-Soviet East: Stated Aims and Real Politics

The American officially stated political priorities are concentrated on energy resources, the regions political stability, and struggle against international terrorism. B. Lynn Pascoe, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs has said that his country wanted a greater integration of the local republics into the world community by strengthening democracy and developing their economies.1

Still, numerous guesses are piling up in an absence of a clear idea about Washingtons long-term strategy in Central Asia and the Caucasus. Some of them hint at the United States real aims and real politics in the region.

First, there is an opinion that Washington exploited the events of 11 September and the counter-terrorist operation to consolidate its global domination. One of the authors has written: Having virtually bought itself unlimited presence on this territory (Central Asia.D.M.), America can constantly keep an eye on Russias southern borders, transportation of local energy sources to China and even manipulate nationalist sentiments in Xinjiang.2 I should like to add to this that their new military bases allow the Americans to control the crisis-ridden regions in Afghanistan and in India and Pakistan.

Second. There is an opinion that the United States wants to move closer to the oil fields of Iran and Iraq, to consolidate its control over the Caspian oil fields, and to protect the oil and gas routes: in the 21st century control over them comes together with control over global politics and global economics.

Third, there are analysts who believe that the United States will use one of the post-Soviet Eastern countries as a toehold in its future operation against Iraq. The rumors about this circulated in Azerbaijan and Georgia,3 thus betraying their readiness to let the United States use their territories.

Finally, there is an opinion that Afghanistan and Iraq are the visible part of the American counter-terrorist designs. In fact, America is trying to trim the role of China as a nuclear state that has nearly escaped its control.4 (It should be said here that China threatens the Amur area of Russia: today it lays vulnerable and totally unprotected against peaceful expansion of the Asian giant. Over time, China may claim this purely Russian territory.) In other words, one can say with a great deal of certainty that Washington will not limit itself to the stated tasks of anti-terrorist struggle: it will stay in Central Asia and is prepared to stretch its military umbrella over the Southern Caucasus. As one of the representatives of the American administration put it, the focus on security is overriding, but not exclusive.5

As the American capital and military structures settle in the post-Soviet expanse, they are doing their best to introduce an order that would meet their interests and strategic designs. This is what challenges Russias interests and regional policy in the most serious way, since today it cannot compete with the United States where financial and economic aid to the Central Asian and South Caucasian states is concerned.

Indeed, the U.S. Agency for International Development is operating with the following figures. Its 2002 budget for Central Asia was $202m, $75m of which was designed for democratic development programs.6 On the whole, Washington increased its funding of the five Central Asian states from $230m in 2001 to $595m in 2002.7 Earlier it was Kazakhstan that received the greatest share of American aidin 2002 its place was taken by Uzbekistan selected as the United States chief ally as soon as the counter-terrorist operation began. In 2001 Kazakhstan got $71.5m while in 2002 it had to receive $81.6m. The corresponding figures for Uzbekistan are $55.9m and $161.8m; for Tajikistan$56.4m and $85.3m.8 Once the military phase of the counter-terrorist operation is over, Washington will condition its aid to Tashkent on the pace of its economic reforms.

It should be said that earlier the United States extended considerable aid to the post-Soviet Eastern states. According to the U.S. State Department, starting with 1992 the American government has already allocated about $1,336 billion to Armenia and extended other types of aid to it to the sum of $218m. On the whole Armenia received over $1,554 billion-worth of American aid. During the same period Azerbaijan got $335m from state sources and $115m from nongovernmental sources that together amounted to $450m. The corresponding figures for Georgia are $1.1 billion and $408m; for Kazakhstan$874.3 and $189m; for Kyrgyzstan$590 and $139m; for Tajikistan$427.5 and $55m; for Turkmenistan$217 and $45m; for Uzbekistan$444.3 and $148m.9

Even before bombardment of Afghanistan started on 7 October, 2001 the United States had signed important agreements with the Central Asian states on the use of their military objects for the purposes of the U.S. and its allies. The documents on the status of the armed forces created a legal basis first for rescue operations and then for deploying foreign servicemen on the Uzbek airbase in Karshi-Khanabad (near the Afghan border). It was rumored to have been transferred to the Americans for the next 20 to 25 years. In Kyrgyzstan Americans reequipped the Manas airport and set up a military base. President of Kazakhstan Nazarbaev signed an agreement that would open to Americans the airbase at Almaty in case of emergency.

Having selected the Central Asian states as a toehold of its counter-terrorist operation, the United States seems to have come to stay. This finds an indirect confirmation in the Fact Sheet: U.S. Policy in Central Asia: Frequently Asked Questions issued by the State Department: We do not intend to establish permanent U.S. military bases in Central Asia. However, we are seeking long-term security relationships and access to military bases. Our current military presence in the region is likely to remain constant as long as our operations continue in Afghanistan.10

The turn of the Southern Caucasus came after Central Asia: in spring 2002 Washington and Tbilisi agreed on a program of accelerated drawing together between Georgia and NATO. In April 2002 about 1,000 U.S. military arrived at the former Soviet base in Vaziani. In Gori the Turks started a program of readying military machinery and training personnel of a Georgian tank regiment. The infrastructure of the military bases in Vaziani and Gordabani is being rapidly adjusted to the NATO standards.11 There is a decision on joint patrols by the navies of the United States and Turkey of a Black Sea zone stretching to the Crimea and the Kerch Strait.12

The United States heeded warnings of the Azeri authorities about possible flares of Islamic radicalism in the country and annulled Art 907 of the 1992 Freedom Support Act that banned military assistance to Azerbaijan because of its blockade of Armenia and Nagorny Karabakh. The new Congressional decision, however, banned the use of American aid to Azerbaijan, especially military aid, against Armenia. The same decision increased the size of annual American funding of Armenias military-technical needs. In this way the United States strengthened its positions in Azerbaijan without alienating Armenia.

So far Washington has been succeeding in its strategies: having accomplished the blitzkrieg in Afghanistan with the minimal loss of American lives and fighting equipment it is moving fast into the post-Soviet East, the zone of Russias traditional influence. The East, and Russia together with it, is being gradually encircled with more military reconnaissance stations in Turkey, Georgia, the Persian Gulf, and Afghanistan. The United States has got access to the rich natural resources of Central Asia and the Caspian and is working toward more control of transport and energy routes of key importance for American and Western companies using Georgia, which has de facto lost its independence, as its instrument. Probably this should not be interpreted as Washingtons desire to contain Moscow but it is obviously narrowing down its political expanse and is extending American possibilities of putting pressure on Russia.

The Post-Soviet East: Challenges of New Geopolitics

It is an open secret that the Central Asian and South Caucasian states have demonstrated their readiness to toe the line within the new system of coordinates supplied by the West and the U.S. Some people explain this in the following way: The two regions are traditionally very responsive to outside geopolitical influences. This is further promoted by their domestic weakness, lack of internal consolidating forces, ethnic and religious patchiness, disunity, and never ending strife.13

This is true. The former Soviet republics have been living and are living among the economic, political, and social chaos. They cannot hope to leave it behind through their own efforts. Equally, they cannot cope single-handedly with the threats created by separatism, crime, drug trafficking, religious extremism and other serious challenges to their national security. The local political elites are looking at the United States in the hope of getting what Russia failed, or did not want, to give them: economic aid and protection against external and internal foes. This explains why President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov insists on continued American presence in Central Asia until the situation is finally stabilized: I am dead set against American withdrawal from this region before Afghanistan acquires peace and stability.14

Will the United States (or Russia or any other country for that matter) be able to settle their domestic problems for them? In fact, international rivalry which will inevitably come to the post-Soviet East together with its own deep-cutting social, economic, and political problems that defy solution may turn the vast region into an area of constant instability. Experts are fond of pointing at the ASEAN members that thanks to foreign aid and successful integration covered, in a historically short period of time, a larger stretch of the road that separated them from the world economic leaders. This success story is not free from failures: in 1998 the ASEAN countries were hit hard by a financial crisis. The post-Soviet Central Asian republics will have to start from a much lower level than the Asian tigers: market relations and the traditions of labor ethics are not as strong there as in Southeast Asia. On top of this, the former Soviet republics of the East are moving away from each other. So far, the process has been proceeding irrespective of statements about regional solidarity issued by the local leaders. There are serious political and economic contradictions among them. They include the so far unsettled territorial disputes with China, other seats of tension rooted in the ethnic and territorial problems pestering all local states, contradictions over the use of water and overpayments for energy fuels. American presence alone will not be enough to stabilize these relationships: there are too many delayed-action political mines there.

This means that there are no hopes that an efficient economic or military structure will be created in the nearest future: it should rest on shared interests that are still absent. The leaders slow down economic reforms and prefer to further improve the power-state system rooted in the Soviet past when the state and society were tied together by the military-mobilization complex. Of course, the situation has changed since then. The new union between the state and financial capital supplied authorities with more levers of influence on the public: budget, taxes, privileges, etc. The state has preserved its domination over society, it has subjugated the public and is successfully performing one function only, that of repression. Its structures are working in the same way. While proclaiming the task of preserving stability and social harmony and using far from democratic measures to do this, the state suppresses society by depriving it of its rights and placing the citizens in direct or indirect dependence on the authorities. Hence weakly developed political forces expected to support and develop reforms, growing political instability and unpredictable future.

In the 1990s the Central Asian and South Caucasian states were not prepared to convert Moscows help into its greater political and economic role and to support its efforts (and indirectly efforts of China) designed to balance and contain Americas geopolitical influence. Probably, the post-Soviet Eastern states can go further with their relationships with the United States that so far needs the regions bases and energy fuels, yet there are limits to such closeness. Violation of human rights is one of such limitsWestern human rights organizations never tire of accusing the local authoritarian regimes of it.

American foreign and domestic policies are based on the issues of democracy and human rights (unlike Russia that is much less sensitive to similar issues and prepared to turn a blind eye to certain failures caused by violations of human rights), therefore the U.S. administration has to respond to signals sent by the human rights community. One of the recent Congressional resolutions calls on the Bush Administration to condition the U.S. political, economic, and military aid to the Central Asian countries by their observation of human rights: Progress in the implementation of rights improvements should determine the level and frequency of U.S. engagement with Central Asian governments, as well as the allocation of United States assistance, and the nature of United States military engagement. The Bush administration should also ensure that no U.S. assistance ends up benefiting Central Asian security forces that have been implicated in human rights violations.15 The local leaders painfully react to criticismit may create tension in their relations with the West.

There is an awareness in Central Asia and the Southern Caucasus that all the economic and military debts should be repaid, probably with pinched sovereignties or with the role of the developed worlds raw material appendices. These trends are especially obvious in Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan (Georgia is a special case as for a number of objective and subjective reasons it has become a failed state) where economic development directly depends on foreign investments that are channeled to mining and oil and gas sphere rather than to the basic and labor-consuming branches working for domestic consumption.16 Industrial enterprises cut according to the needs of socialist economy have found it hard to fit market relationships, therefore once their industrial capacities exhausted, foreign investors might find it futile to fund their retooling.17

Even according to the more favorable variant, internationalization of the export-oriented branches may negatively affect (and is negatively affecting) the economy of Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, and other states that have opted for a similar model. The stake on oil exports as the moving force of further development of the Caspian states may fail. This will jeopardize their course for economic diversification. One also doubts that the new masters of the post-Soviet Central Asian and South Caucasian states will be able to bridle the most painful economic problems such as corruption, inflation, undeveloped labor market, etc.

In other words, even if American presence brings order to certain sides of local existence for a short while, it will only create weak prerequisites for market reforms, democracy, and the rule of law. Future will be fraught with even greater risks that may develop into threats to national security, the worst of them being social collisions and upheavals. Ambitious oil and gas projects can hardly be realized if the protracted economic crisis continues smoldering and if political and social stability remains unsupported. From this it follows that the regional economic context will determine the future strategies of the United States and other main geopolitical players, including Russia.

Russia-U.S. Cooperation: Is It Tactical or Strategic?

The Russian political elite on the whole calmly responded to the news about an American military-political landing in Central Asia and the military operation in Afghanistan that followed it. In its support of the United States and siding with the antiterrorist coalition Russia guided itself by the arguments similar to those accepted by Central Asia and the Southern Caucasus. They all became confronted with a common enemyterrorism which since that time has become the most serious threat to their national security. The terrorist act in October 2002 in a Moscow theater confirmed that Russia made a correct choice by siding with the West. Like the United States it became disillusioned with some of its allies and partners. After 11 September the United States discovered that Saudi Arabia and certain other Arab friends were involved, albeit indirectly, in training and funding those who flew at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon (16 out of 19 terrorists were Saudi Arabian subjects). In the same way Russia found that separatists in Chechnia and some other places in Russia, as well as the extremist religious and political movements, received ideological and material support not only from the Arab world but also from its closest neighbors: Georgia, Azerbaijan, and the Baltic countries. Fight against terrorism that is trying to disguise itself with religious rhetoric and that has developed into a transnational phenomenon serves as a cornerstone for long-term cooperation between Russia and the United States.

In addition, Russia wants diversified long-term bilateral cooperation with America in the sphere of energy fuels which should go further than an episode of selling Russian oil to the U.S. strategic oil reserve in fall 2002. The American oil companies that have influence on the present American administration are demonstrating their willingness to work together with Moscow where the fuel prices are concerned. They probably do not want them to go too low. This gives Russia hopes of being able to influence American policies.

A sober assessment of economic situation in Russia tells us an unpleasant truth: Russia cannot compete with the United States where security of the post-Soviet Eastern states is concerned. It is equally unable to extend lavish financial aid to them. Obviously, it will more profit from better relations with the West and the United States than from geopolitical haggling over Washingtons military presence in Central Asia and the Caucasus. Economic integration within the CIS, especially in the sphere of trade and transportation network, may theoretically benefit Russia as well as the Central Asian and South Caucasian republics. So far, though, the problem of regional integration remains shelved for an indefinite period while the relations between Russia and these states will follow the road of bilateral cooperation based on market economycontacts will not be totally folded while a global Eurasian alliance will not appear.

By way of response to the latest challenges Moscow is busy shaping a new model of relationships with its southern neighbors by strengthening its Caspian Navy, trying to delimitate the Caspian seabed, and by whipping up and deepening economic cooperation. Washington demonstrates a certain amount of caution, yet these efforts have not caused serious disagreements between the two states. Georgia became a stumbling block.

Both countries regard Georgia as a strategic toehold. Russia is especially interested in its Black Sea shoreline for its army and navy: after the Soviet Unions disintegration it lost the important strategic Black Sea base in the Crimea. Georgia plays an important role in exporting Caspian energy resources as a key link in the transit energy East-West corridor that bypasses Russia. This is what attracts the United States. On 18 September, 2002 the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline was opened symbolically. It is expected that it will earn at least $100-120m a year for Georgia. Iranian, Afghan, and certain other routes may serve as alternatives to the corridor with Georgia as the main link. In this situation Moscow can only console itself with the thought that the United States and western companies find these variants as unattractive as Russia does. Construction work in the Georgian pipeline is scheduled for February-March 2003. The beginning might coincide with the military operation in Iraq, which will send Georgias political value up.

There is another side to this disputethe Russian military bases that Tbilisi helped by the West and the U.S. is trying to remove from its territory. Today, the following Russian structures are stationed in Georgia: the Headquarters of the Group of Russian Troops in the Trans-Caucasus (Tbilisi), the 12th (Batumi) and 62nd (Akhalkalaki) military bases, ammunition storage facilities in Sagaredzho, a motorized rifle regiment in Khelvachauri and a communication post in Kodzhori. In addition, units of the Russian peacekeeping contingent are stationed in the Kodori Gorge in Abkhazia (total numerical strength of about 15 thou armed with up to 1,000 units of armored vehicles and several helicopters).18

Moscows unwillingness to evacuate its bases in the next 2 to 3 years on which Georgia is insisting has created a problem. Russias terms (evacuation within the next 10 to 11 years) formally do not contradict the Joint Agreement between the Russian Federation and Georgia signed at the Istanbul Summit on 17 November, 1999 to which Georgian politicians refer. The same document cites the date (1 July, 2001) by which two other bases should have been evacuated. Moscow complied with this clause. Georgia wants all Russian bases removed at the earliest date possible because they present an obstacle on its road to NATO. Russia, in turn, hopes to prevent their drawing closer by remaining on the Georgian territory. But the Prague NATO summit of 20-22 November, 2002 demonstrated that Moscow had failed: President Shevardnadze announced that his country was prepared to join NATO and received an invitation to elaborate an individual program, which means an accelerated procedure of joining NATO. A visit of General Richard Myers, Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, to Tbilisi only two days after the Prague Summit was another confirmation that NATO was serious about its Georgian plans. General Myers talked in Tbilisi about the countrys integration into NATO, the trends of U.S. military aid in 2003, and Georgias possible participation in the anti-Iraqi coalition.19

Russia cannot stem the developments, since in its time it had not received confirmations from Georgia, and other CIS countries, for that matter, that its bases would not be transferred to NATO. On the whole, Moscow finds it hard to pursue an anti-Georgian course without worsening relations with America and the West. As soon as last fall Russia started talking about a possible military operation in the Pankissi Gorge, NATO and Georgia drew even closer together and soft occupation of Georgia became a fact. As a result, the United States has acquired a possibility to control the Russian border and the adjacent North Caucasian territories, that is, the south of Russia. This will block off the Russian bases in Armenia (this has already happened in Tajikistan) and raise the question of their evacuation. Official Erevan is actively seeking closer relations with the West, which will probably send the formula of eternal friendship between Armenia and Russia into oblivion in the same way as this happened to incantations about the eternal unity of the fraternal Soviet peoples. If the United States stakes on these developments, Moscow will find itself in a quandary: while it is losing positions in the vitally important regions its behavior appears more and more helpless.

Lack of Russian initiative may create an illusion among the politically immature elites of the post-Soviet East that their involvement in the antiterrorist coalition entitles them to imposing their opinions about other issues up to and including the use of force against neighbors or the other side in a conflict. This may defrost the frozen conflicts or create new seats of tension.

Who Will Resolve Conflicts?

Resolution and prevention of armed conflicts in the post-Soviet East seem to be the most difficult task from the point of view of achieving stability in the area. This does not apply to the prospects of Russian-American cooperation. According to repeated official statements, both Russia and the United States want peace in the region, but there is always a danger of local politicians trying to persuade Washington that its strength allows it to ignore Russia when settling conflicts. This happened early in the 1990s when the United States tried to elbow Russia out of settling the Karabakh conflict. By way of compromise an American representative was incorporated into the Minsk OSCE Group. The same is happening today: the Georgian leaders are trying to convince the United States and the world community that international peacekeeping is much more effective than Russias efforts.

One has to admit that Russias possibilities to actively influence conflict settlement suffered because of its weakness and lack of political initiative. Moreover, the Russian Federation has to fight armed separatists and religious extremism that is consolidating its positions in Chechnia. Still, the Southern Caucasus and its conflicts remain one of Russias priorities: it has to diminish tension in the conflict-prone region and promote its interests because Caucasian instability affects its vital interests as a neighbor and as one of the regional Caucasian powers.

The conflicts in the Northern and Southern Caucasus are interconnected: the conflict between Georgia and South Ossetia created a flow of Ossetian refugees to the Prigorodniy District, which triggered a confrontation between the Ossets and Ingushes and a flow of Ingush refugees. The conflict between Georgia and Abkhazia started unrest among the Adighe peoples in the Northern Caucasus, stirred up separatist sentiments there, especially among the Chechens, who had fought together with the Abkhazians. The Armenian-Azerbaijanian conflict sent a large flow of migrants to the south of Russia (the Krasnodar and Stavropol territories), which caused ethnic tension and drew a response in the form of anti-Caucasian Cossack movements and national-patriotic organizations. Georgia and Azerbaijan, in their turn, are indirectly affected by the war in Chechnia: the conflict aggravated a dislike of people of Caucasian extraction in the south of Russia and in the heart of its European part, and gave rise to religious tension because the Chechen resistance had succeeded in presenting the war as part of a worldwide conflict of civilizations: between Christian and Jewish Russia and the world of Islam.

The United States and Russia can promote settlement of a number of conflicts, the Nagorny Karabakh conflict in the first place. By acting together as intermediaries Washington and Moscow brought the positions of Baku and Erevan closer together and initiated bilateral talks between the sides. As co-chairmen of the Minsk OSCE Group along with France they abandoned the obviously failed model of rivalry between the great powers that added to the conflict potential in Central Asia and the Southern Caucasus.

In 2003, both Armenia and Azerbaijan will elect their presidents, which means that current leaders will hardly take resolute steps toward the Karabakh settlement. Much will depend on those who will replace the incumbent presidents. In any case they will have to take Russias interests into account because it will remain in Armenia in the nearest future: no matter how much it likes the West the political elite of this country needs Russia as an ally to balance the regional forces hostile to Erevan. The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline will run 30 km to the north of the Nagorny Karabakh borders, which means that the United States and Russia will have to offer this self-proclaimed republic conditions that will not pinch its national interests and will ensure security of its Armenian population.

Moscow and Washington share many approaches to Abkhazian and South Ossetian settlement: they never doubted Georgias territorial integrity. Yet there are many traps in their positions, one of them being Georgias role and place in regional politics. Russias statements about the need to defuse the situation on its border with Georgia coincided with the White Houses more active help to Georgia in its fight against the terrorists in the Pankissi Gorge. When talking at the Georgian Embassy in Washington, U.S. State Secretary Colin Powell assured his audience that there were no reasons to be afraid of deployment of American troops in the region. The U.S. Administration clearly indicated that American aid should not be used against Abkhazia The United States is following closely the developments and calls on the sides to seek political solution for these two interconnected regional conflicts.20

By way of response to the warning that came from the Russian president in the wake of the meeting with heads of power ministries on 11 September, 2002 in Sochi to the effect that Moscow reserved the right to defend itself if Georgia failed to create a zone of security along its border with Russia a spokesman of the U.S. State Department declared: The United States supports Georgias territorial integrity and will protest if Russia takes any unilateral armed action on the Georgian territory.21 American officials declared that they would not support Russia if it launched an operation against the Chechen terrorists based in the Pankissi Gorge. This is obviously a double-standard policy: the United States never hesitates to pursue the terrorists who threaten it on the territories of far-away countries while the slightest indication that Russia can invade the sphere of American interests of which Georgia is part are actively opposed. At the same time, the situation in the Pankissi Gorge threatens not only Russia or the Caucasus but also the world community as a whole. According to Igor Giorgadze, former security minister of Georgia, who is today one of the leaders of the Georgian opposition in exile, drugs, illegal arms trade, abductions and slave trade are the evils to be fought in the Pankissi Gorge. He insists that annual returns from drug transit are twice as large as the returns Georgia expects to get from the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline. Weapons used to down Russian helicopters in Chechnia arrive via Pankissi; many of the foreigners abducted for ransom (150 were abducted in Tbilisi alone) were taken to the gorge.22

Sergei Markedonov, leading Russian specialist on the Caucasus, has rightly described the American assessment of the situation in the Caucasus as formally legal determinism. He correctly said that the American attempts to settle the problems while alienating form them and dealing with what is on the surface rather than looking deeper would prove futile. Settlement of the Georgian-Abkhazian, Georgian-Ossetian, and the Armenian-Azerbaijanian conflicts requires not only money but also considerable human resources and original diplomatic moves. The main thing is: the United State will have to admit for everybody to hear that today the South Caucasian states (Georgia in the first place) cannot protect themselves single-handedly.23

Despite its weakness Russia has not yet exhausted its potential and can still influence the situation in the conflict zones with the help of its political allies. Dissatisfied with Tbilisis pro-Western bias, Russia took several steps designed to preserve its influence at least on part of Georgias territory. Russian businessmen started buying Abkhazian Black Sea resorts while the local people and people in South Ossetia were given an opportunity to obtain Russian citizenship according to a simplified procedure: as a result 70 percent of Abkhazians became Russian citizens, in South Ossetia over half of the local people did the same.24

In Azerbaijan and Georgia authorities lost their former prestige, which started centrifugal trends in certain regions. Further aggravation of relations with Russia strengthens such trends in the areas that have already escaped from control. Baku seems to have admitted this while Tbilisi where American financial and military might is working against Russia by supporting Washingtons local allies refuses to accept this. Yet expectations of those who hope that the West, international mediators or oil companies will force the sides to make peace so that to extract and transport Caspian oil, open new trade routes, etc. in comfort may fail. The South Caucasian states seem to have realized which role is in store for them: that of pawns in a complex geopolitical game designed to squeeze Russia out from the Caucasus. One doubts that this will resolve their problems and settle their conflicts, even if Russia, the United States and the newly independent states do want stability in the region.

By way of summing up I would like to say that so far Washington and Moscow need one another and that there are certain limits to their activity in the post-Soviet East. This is why both countries will profit from coordination of American actions with Russia which, no matter how weak today, has still preserved its influence in the area.


1 See: SShA ne namereny vytesniat Rossiiu iz Sredney Azii. Beseda zamestitelia pomoshchnika gossekretaria SShA po delam Evropy i Evrazii Linna Pasco, 11 January, 2002 [www.strana.ru].
2 E. Dezhin, V radikalnom dvizhenii Sredney Azii glavenstvuiushchuiu rol zanimaet partia Hizb ut-Tahrir. No kto stoit za ney? Nezavisimoe voennoe obozrenie, 24 May, 2002.
3 See, for example, A. Gordienko, Iraq budut bombit s aerodromov Gruzii, Nezavisimaia gazeta, 7 August, 2002; U. Babaeva, Irakskuiu kartu SShA razygraiut s territorii Azerbaidzhana, Nezavisimaia gazeta, 21 March, 2002.
4 See: U. Babaeva, op. cit.
5 A. Cohen, U.S. Officials Relying on Engagement Strategy to Promote Change in Central Asia, 14 November, 2002 [http://www.eurasianet.org/departments/rights/articles/eav111402.shtml/].
6 SShA meniaiut evraziyskuiu politiku? 1 November, 2002 [http://www.eurasia.org/].
7 See: A. Cohen, op. cit.
8 See: M. Laumulin, Central Asia After 11 September, Central Asia and the Caucasus, No. 4 (16), 2002, p. 32.
9 See: CAN, 25 June, 2002 [www.caspian.ru].
10 [http://usinfo.state.gov/russki/].
11 See: Stanislav Kochiev, V Gruzii nakhodiatsia uzhe 1000 amerikanskikh soldat, Izvestia, 3 April, 2002.
12 See: A. Baliev, Zelenye berety Gruziiu ne minuiut, 18 September, 2002 [http://www.gazetaSNG.ru/artcle].
13 J. Eivazov, The Antiterrorist Campaign and New Geopolitical and Security Trends in the Regional Systems of Central Asia and the Caucasus, Central Asia and the Caucasus, No. 4 (16), 2002, p. 20.
14 Islam Karimov poprosil amerikanskikh voennykh ne ukhodit iz Tsentralnoi Azii [http://www.lenta.ru/2002/10/05/karimov].
15 Congressional Resolution Takes Central Asian Governments to Task Over Rights Abuses, 23 October, 2002 [http://www.eurasianet.org/index.shtml/].
16 For more detail, see: Central Asia: the Challenge of Independence, ed. by Boris Rumer and Stanislav Zhukov, M.E. Sharpe, Armonk, New York, London, 1998, p. 205.
17 See: Central Asia and the New Global Economy, ed. by Boris Rumer, M.E. Sharpe, Armonk, New York, London, 2000, p. 155.
18 See: V. Sokut, Voenniy stsenariy dlia Gruzii, Nezavisimoe voennoe obozrenie, No. 33, 20-26 September, 2002.
19 See: I. Jorbenadze, V Gruzii startoval natovskiy marafon, Vremia MN, 26 November, 2002.
20 Zaiavlenie Kolina Pauella, Svobodnaia Gruzia, 26 April, 2002.
21 [http://www.lenta.ru/russia/2002/09/14/putin/].
22 See: I. Giorgadze, Prezident Gruzii ispolzoval amerikantsev vtemnuiu, Rossiiskaia gazeta, 14 September, 2002.
23 S. Markedonov, Shagrenevaia kozha Rossii v Zakavkazie, Nezavisimaia gazeta, 23 September, 2002.
24 See: T. Rubleva, A. Gordienko, Peredel granits SNG startoval na Kavkaze, Nezavisimaia gazeta, 7 October, 2002.

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