Eesti Elu
STRATFOR: Russia’s control of near abroad could be a possibility in near future (3)
Arvamus 15 Jan 2010  Eesti Elu
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Texas based STRATFOR (Strategic Forecasting), a non-governmental economic/political intelligence gathering and analyzing establishment, predicts in its annual 12 month forecast Russia’s intention of activating its expansionist policies in its near abroad.

(In a previous article, it was pointed out that former Russian diplomat Dmitri Jermolajev has urged the adoption of a more aggressive policy for Moscow in grabbing the controlling role, and not passively waiting for Finlandization to take hold in its relations with former Soviet occupied countries.)

STRATFOR comes to the conclusion that by the end of 2010 former Soviet territory will have become Moscow’s sphere of influence, where any attempt to change situations will need supreme effort.

Russia’s growing intent in assuming ostensible control of adjacent countries is fed by the USA’s total immersion in the quagmire of Afghanistan and Iraq. Eastern Europe is simply not on the White House agenda, finds STRATFOR.

In 2010 Russia will push Western and Turkish influence out of Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Armenia and Azerbaijan, states STRATFOR, and replace it with a political alliance of old Soviet-occupied countries.

Estonian member of parliament Marko Mihkelson points out that Russia’s growing intention of expanding its sphere of influence was clearly signaled by Vladimir Putin in 2006, when he declared that the collapse of the Soviet Union was one of the most tragic catastrophes of the 20th century.

The intention became a definite probability with Russia’s invasion of Georgia in August of 2008. Russia goal with this was to blockade NATO expansion to the east, replace the legitimate government in Georgia with Moscow’s puppets (unsuccessful) and gain a toehold in South Caucasia. Russia’s moves in these directions could in all likelihood be emboldened this year.

Mihkelson says that the upcoming Ukrainian presidential elections will certainly draw attention to relations between Kiev and Moscow. Russia’s Black Sea fleet harboured in Ukraine’s Crimea will be a clear bone of contention and prime electoral campaign issue.

STRATFOR’s goal in its upfront prediction may be, according to Mihkelson, an attempt to awaken the White House, where the dynamics of eastern Europe/Russian relations aren’t currently on the US administration’s political landscape. The same could apply for the European Union.

For the Baltic states, Latvia, which is suffering deeply from its economic crisis, could be in the most critical position. The upcoming parliamentary elections there will provide a large electoral playing field within an unstable political climate.

It is incumbent on Estonia, Mihkelson stresses, to strive for more forceful and unified NATO and European Union policies. Estonia must be proactive in directing the attention of its allies and partners to possible geopolitical problems with its eastern neighbour.
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