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New York Times: Russia’s Neighbors Resist Wooing and Bullying

nytlogo153x23 Today’s New York Times argues that Russia’s policy towards the former Soviet Union republics is far from successful. Despite its own economic hardship, Moscow is trying to buy loyalty of its neighbors. But the neighbors, and Belarus in particular, only disappoint Russia. Having taken cash from Moscow, Minsk is now seek more from the West, often neglecting its pro-Russian commitments:

Belarus — which was promised $2 billion in Russian aid — is in open rebellion against the Kremlin, flaunting its preference for Europe while also collecting money from the International Monetary Fund. Uzbekistan joined Belarus in refusing to sign an agreement on the Collective Rapid Reaction Forces, an idea Moscow sees as an eventual counterweight to NATO.

Russia’s strategy for consolidating support in neighboring capitals can hardly be called a strategy. Belarus’s president, Aleksandr Lukashenko, who is avidly pursuing Western partners, has been barraged with carrots and sticks from Moscow — first promised $2 billion in Russian aid, then bitterly chastised for his economic policy, then punished with a crippling ban on the import of milk products, then rewarded by a reversal of the import ban. Russia regards Mr. Lukashenko’s truculence as a bluff.

“He is imitating a quarrel with Russia until the West demands serious changes from his regime, at which point, he will, of course, surrender,” said Parliament member Konstantin F. Zatulin, a standard-bearer for Russia’s ambitions in former Soviet space. “It’s just his greedy line of behavior.”

Read full text in New York Times.

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