Sergey Lounev, D.Sc. (Hist.), chief research associate, Institute of World Economy and International Relations, RAS; professor, Moscow State Institute (University) of International Relations, Foreign Ministry of Russia (Moscow, Russia)

The world has been moving toward the regionalization of international economic and political relations for some time now. This is manifested in two ways:

In a shift toward a multipolar world, which seems quite probable and will most likely be realized through cooperation; this will divide the world into clearly discernable zones of influence of the world powers within which regional contacts will rapidly develop;

In the emergence of gray zones for which the world centers will not take (or will be unable to take) responsibility.

Central Asia and the Southern Caucasus form one of such vast regions in the post-Soviet expanse. Their development trends are very similar, while the differences between them can be described as general, particular, and singular. Very soon these regions, or at least their larger part, will be regarded as sub-regions of the Greater Middle East.

The southern part of the Soviet Union developed into a geopolitical region in its own right when the socialist system of statehood (which kept together ethnic groups never on the best terms with each other for long periods) became a thing of the past. The Soviet Unions disintegration brought the old contradictions among ethnic groups and the former Soviet republics or their sub-regions into the open.

Across the post-Soviet expanse, the Caucasus was a place with the greatest ethnic problems, which..

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