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BESA Post-Soviet Conflicts Research Digest

In February 2024, the materials prepared by the Post-Soviet Conflicts Research Program at BESA covered a wide array of countries and sub-regions, including Ukraine, Russia, Moldova, Armenia, and Central Asian states, focusing on both internal and external aspects of political development. 

Velvl Chernin provides an overview of the state of affairs in Transnistria – the unrecognized republic located between Moldova and Ukraine, de jure an internationally recognized part of Moldova. He concludes that “at present Transnistria indeed does not pose a serious military threat to Moldova, let alone to Ukraine, although it remains a base for Russian special services and can be used by them for subversive activities.” Since the de facto state lacks a “consolidating ethnic component” and tries to defend its own interests in the rapidly changing circumstances, the “possibility of reintegration of Transnistria into the Republic of Moldova (…) begins to look somewhat more realistic.” However, the most recent (late February 2024) calls from Tiraspol to the Russian authorities once again question this possibility.

The same author analyzes the law “On the Indigenous Peoples of Ukraine” adopted in that country in 2021. Chernin finds that this law was primarily designed to meet the aspirations of the Crimean Tatar population of Crimea. Now, when Crimea is under Russian control, it serves as an additional incentive for the Crimean Tatar bodies and activists to work towards Crimea’s return to the Ukrainian hands. However, “the interests of the Crimean Tatar national movement, which seeks to establish a full-fledged national-territorial autonomy, and Ukraine as a unitary state do not coincide. After the return of Crimea to Ukrainian control, a conflict between them is inevitable.”

Andrei Kazantsev-Vaisman has done important work of comprehensively overviewing the reactions in post-Soviet countries to the interview that Vladimir Putin, the Russian President, has given to the American journalist Tucker Carlson. The reactions in Russia and Ukraine towards the interview in which the invasion is justified are quite predictable, as well as those of these countries’ outspoken allies.

The most complex reaction has been observed in Kazakhstan. In that country, fears are quite widespread about Russia’s trying to establish control over Kazakhstan’s northern territories; these fears are frequently fueled by controversial statements made in the Russian state media. At the same time, Kazakhstan is still trying to conduct a “multi-vector” foreign policy. So, as in other Central Asian states of Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan, state-controlled media outlets preferred to just ignore Putin’s interview or to cover it neutrally. In Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan, a foreign country president’s interview was overshadowed as a news item by the more relevant domestic and external agenda. Indeed, the “interview with Carlson did not bring anything fundamentally new for post-Soviet countries.

Regardless of whether they view Putin’s Russia favorably or unfavorably, political elites and even ordinary residents of post-Soviet countries are well acquainted with all of Putin’s relevant rhetoric.”

Two other papers by the same author address the implications of foreign politics in the post-Soviet area for Israel. One paper examines the potential effects of the French policy in the (broad) Mediterranean region, involving support for Armenia and Lebanon, considering the significant influence Iran has on both these countries. The author expresses concerns regarding the possibility of French weapons falling into the hands of Tehran and Hezbollah. He also underlines that, given Israel’s strong ties with Azerbaijan, “if relations between Baku and Yerevan do not normalize, Jerusalem and Paris will find themselves involved on opposite sides of their conflict.” Kazantsev-Vaisman concludes that France’s attempts to concentrate its foreign policy at the same time on the Ukrainian and Mediterranean tracks might lead to the inefficient allocation of scarce resources and, instead of stabilizing the situation, further exacerbate it.

A detailed material was prepared by Andrei Kazantsev-Vaisman analyzing the Central Asian states’ official positions towards the Gaza war and the “Swords of Iron” anti-terrorist operation, expressed in numerous international venues. He summarizes these positions as “cautious and largely virtual alignment with the anti-Israel position in international forums where it is supported by the majority of countries,” “support for the position of the official Palestinian administration headed by Mahmoud Abbas rather than Hamas,” and, for sure, “maintaining cooperation with Israel.” The Central Asian countries emphasize “their own peaceful stance and unwillingness to support either of the conflicting parties.”

The PSCR program at the BESA Center looks forward to further updating our readership on the ever-changing dynamics in the post-Soviet region in the coming months.

For more information, please contact:

Randy E. Spiegel, CEO

Canadian Friends of Bar-Ilan University




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