The Eurasian region continues to disintegrate, and neither
nor the West has been able to arrest the destabilizing dynamics. Evidence of rising instability throughout the region include the August 2008 Russia-Georgia war, renewed terrorist attacks in the North Caucasus, the persistent failure of Western forces to stabilize Afghanistan, the inability of Central Asian rulers to reign in local clans and drug lords, and the paralysis of legitimately elected bodies of power in Ukraine and Moldova. Russia
Violence is gradually spreading, waiting for an opportunity to erupt into a large-scale conflict.
Transregional transportation routes may soon be choked due to
Russia‘s conflicts with Ukraine, Georgia, and
The West’s attempts to secure and stabilize
Eurasia after the end of the Cold War must be recognized as a failure. In the mid-1990s, U.S. geostrategists such as Zbigniew Brzezinski recommended that the United States pursue a policy of replacing
as the referee and protector of the newly established non-Russian states in the region. After initial hesitation, the Russia
and other Western states followed this advice. Yet
United States Eurasia has not become stable or peaceful and continues to disintegrate. The bureaucrats in Washington and
have failed to understand that they lack the resources, the will, and the experience to stabilize the complex region. Today — after the Brussels Iraq war and the global financial crisis — the United States is beginning to recognize its overextension, but it is not at all clear if Washington and Brussels are prepared to act differently in
Once this is done in practice, and not rhetorically, many pieces of the region’s puzzle may start falling into place. Energy supplies may become more reliable; governments in politically contested areas — like
Georgia, Ukraine, and
— may obtain a greater legitimacy; and the so-called frozen conflicts may have a better opportunity to be resolved. Moldova
‘s recent resurgence is a response to its lacking recognition as a vital power and partner of the West. If Russia Russia chooses to dedicate itself to obstructing Western policies in
Eurasia, we will see more of the collapsing dynamics in the region. Ukraine and Moldova may disintegrate, as did
. Central Asia and Georgia
are likely to be subjected to a much greater degree of instability with unpredictable consequences. Azerbaijan
too will suffer greatly as its modernization processes will be derailed. In short, the region may change beyond recognition — and possibly through the use of force.
Spirit Of Cooperation
Non-Russian powers too must become involved as participants in establishing a collective-security arrangement in
Eurasia. From a security perspective, it is important that the two most prominent actors in the region — NATO and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) — develop a joint assessment of threat and closely coordinate their policies. Instead of expanding its reach further, NATO ought to learn its limitations.
Without the full-fledged involvement of the SCO, Afghanistan is likely to turn into another version of Iraq, with additional negative implications for the
reputation in the world. Another key issue is energy security. A new, shared understanding of energy challenges must be reached that would encourage mutual respect for each side’s critical interests. U.S.
as a potentially reliable alternative to traditional Middle Eastern sources of energy may serve the West and members of the region better than the image of a “neo-imperialist” bully that only seeks to subvert its neighbors’ policies. Trying to persuade European countries to invest additional billions into the Nabucco pipeline in order to bypass Russia
may well turn out to be a waste of money and time. A more important and potentially unifying idea for all the parties would be to engage in the development of acceptable rules and principles of energy security among
Russia Eurasia‘s powers. Finally, to restore the region’s capacity to function and perform basic services for its residents, it is critical to curb Russophobic nationalism. While rebuilding a Russia-centered empire would be very dangerous, there is hardly an alternative to the emergence of an economically and culturally transparent community of nations with strong ties to the former metropole. Russians and other ethnic minorities must be able freely to travel, develop their linguistic and religious traditions, and celebrate their historically significant events. The overall objective of the outside world should be to strengthen
‘s confidence as a regional great power, while discouraging it from engaging in revisionist behavior.
Andrei Tsygankov is a professor of international relations at