How Putin’s Karabakh calculus can undermine Russia’s clout in Post-Soviet Eurasia

Defence-In-Depth

Dr Simon Saradzhyan, Director, Russia Matters Project, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

Dmitri Trenin, director of the Carnegie Moscow Center, recently published his take on Russia’s responses to this year’s crises in Belarus, Kyrgyzstan and Nagorno-Karabakh. Trenin infers from these responses that Russia’s foreign and security policies continue to be solely shaped by Vladimir Putin’s vision of Russia’s national interests, but that these interests no longer require anchoring ex-Soviet neighbours to Moscow. As per ‘Moscow’s new rules’ set by ‘just one decider’ (that is, by Putin) Russia, according to Trenin, ‘is embracing its loneliness as a chance to start looking after its own interests and needs,’ and ‘the countries that emerged from the ex-Soviet republics are on their own.’

I do not contest Trenin’s proposition that Putin is the sole decision-maker when it comes to Russia’s foreign, military and security policies. That point has been…

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