Russia and the frozen conflicts
in post-soviet states
What are the real nature and interest of frozen conflicts for Russia ? Symptome of the
transition to a post-imperial status or a real strategic policy for Russia to maintain her
influence waiting better days ?
I ) Russiaʼs transition as traditional actor in a strategic
A) SU defeat , Exit from the Empire, the wrong answer of the CIS
The Soviet Union, strictly composed by 15 republics and some other satellites like
the Baltic States, collapsed in 1991 and was divided into different States. The former
Russian Empire, built since Peter the Great to the West,has been lost : Russia has in 1991
the borders of 1687.
Russianʼs relationship with some former republic like the Baltic States were very
conflictual and these one preferred to not join the CIS project proposed by Russia. The
Community of Independant States was Eltsinʼs idea to maintain strong links with former
parts of the Russia Empire and most part of the latter joined this international organization
like Belarus, Kazakhztan… This Exit from the Empire has been realized in very few months
and it was quite impossible to think a complete independance of all these 15 new States.
Economical and strategic interest were so much entwined that it was necessary to stay in
touch thanks to a inter-national structure : the CIS was perfect for it and 11/15 States
In 1991 Boris Yeltsin became the first elected leader of Russia. This was the end of Michael Gorbachevs policy of perestroika ( radical changes in the economy) and glasnost ( the possibility of free expression) ( Gunn, 1995). The new elected president wanted some more radical changes; decentralisation, democracy and a market economy. For Russia, transition to a market economy has been difficult ...
created the CIS at Almaty the 21/12/1991.
But the aim and the ambition of the CIS have never been determined clearly : is it a
structure in order to prepare a safe divorce from Russia or an organization under
Moscowʼs control ? Russiaʼs first interest was to leave a political union with his former
Empire in order to treat in priority her own problems- and they were not few. Moscow spent
billions of Roubles for her former Empire and Sister Republics, investing less in her now
territory and a wave of hard nationalism was a thread in Russia at this time. This CIS was
a kind of Russian Commonwealth and this organization was supposed to be Russian
considered as South America was the “BASSE COUR” of the US since the Monroe
Doctrine. This Russian sphere of influence was called in 1992 : “near abroad” : ближние
This political union was apparently a safe solution which permits to have a soft
transition without any civil war like in the Balkans. It was one of the most important thread
when we know as only one exemple that 25 millions of Russian are outside of the New
Russia of 1991… Ethnic Cleaning war, secession, wars between communities were the
darkmare of all the leaders of the region and the CIS gave the possibility to have a
Focus on case study : Moldavia & Transnistria.
Russiaʼs first Frozen Conflicts was in Moldavia and itʼs quite interesting to notice
that the conflict began when Moldavia decided to get her complete independance from
Russia and not to join the CIS and moreover to join Roumania in mid-term time… This
means for Russia the complete lost of influence on this country and this would have a
great defeat for Kremlin to loose a strategic basis.
=> With Moldavia, Russia surrounds Ukraine and itʼs a thread for the independance
of this uncertain State.
=> Moldavia is at the end of the Danube, one of the most important river in Europe
=>Moldavia gives access to a hot sea and is in the earth of Europe.
If we very oftenly hear the data of 60% of Russian Minorities in Moldavia, we must
Moscow is the largest and most important industrial center in Russia, one of the largest city economies in Europe which comprises approximately 22% of Russian GDP. Moscow has the lowest unemployment rate of all federal subjects in Russia standing at just 1% in 2010. I have chosen this country because its external environment is suitable for me. Business customs, workforce characteristics and ...
be very carefull because this number hide in reality many realities : it adds russians and
ukraine “ethnics”and focus on russian-speaking people.Moldavia has been part of a
province of the Russian Empire since 3 centuries… The real number of Russia ethnic
people is 27% ; itʼs important but not a majority. When in 1990, Moldavia is turning to the
West (latin alphabet, orthodox Patriarcat to Bucarest and not Moscow…),Russians and
Ukrainians of Moldavia refuse to agree and wanted to create an independant State :
Moldavian Republic ofTransnistria. This State in on the border of Ukraine and is the real
economical earth of the countries : Moscow built there most part of industries and the
region represents 40% of the GDP of the Country. Moldavia is one of the poorest State of
Europe and it was quite impossible for Chisinau ( the official capital) to recognize the loose
of such territory… Chisinau tried to make war to Transnistria but a Russian Army based
there leaded by Aleksandr Lebed defeated the Moldavian army…A cease of fire has been
declared between Moldavia and this Unidentified Political Object which is Transnistria
( UPO )but no solution has been found since the war in 1992… In 2001, a pro-Russian
communist, Vladimir Voronine, has been elected and recognized many points wanted by
Moscow like the difference between Romanian and Moldavian and in 2003, a political
agreement has been very close to be signed between both parts of the conflicts, KOZAK
Plan, but Moscow disagreed… Russiaʼs interest is clearly to make the conflict froze in
order to keep in the region strategic forces ( 2000 soldiers officially peacekeepers because
the XIVth army was cancelled in 1994 )and to make the region unstable and a thread : this
empeach Moldavia to join the EU whereas Romania did. MRT, leaded by Smirnoff, has a
lot of helps from Moscow like a National Money sustained by the Russian National Bank
whereas Moldavia have many problems with Moscow : in 2004, the communist Voronine
decided to leave the Russian Alliance and to ally with the UE : Moscow blocked the import
of the most important moldavian good : the wine. Russia is a key actor in Moldavian case,
RUSSIA IN THE 1800 S Since the reign of Ivan the Terrible, the Russian Tsars had followed a fairly consistent policy of drawing more political power away from the nobility and into their own hands. This centralization of authority in the Russian state had usually been accomplished in one of two ways-either by simply taking power from the nobles and braving their opposition (Ivan the Terrible was ...
Moscow masters Transnitria which is not able to be indepenant without the Kremlin. This
one decided to froze the conflict for Russiaʼs interest and the conflict has still not no
solution 17 years after…
B)Born-again imperialism or strategic rush in a new sensitive area ?
This unsane status quo between countries of the former soviet union has been
completly destroyed by the effect of a double strategic rush on this strategic area. Both the
United States and the European Union gave a great attention to the zone at the end of the
Russiaʼs “near abroad” and historical influence area was defeated by the challenge
of a young and attractive structure : the free market and free trade zone of the biggest
economic area in the world : the EU. At the very beginning of 1992, Bruxelles planned to
integrate some States of Eastern Europe. At this time, Russia was dealing with his own
problem but was completly ignored by the new global actors about agreements. Thatʼs
only in 1997 that EU established a very timid cooperation with Moscow meanwhile the
Transcausus was declared “a region of EUʼs strategic interests”. The Russian Bear was
defeated and surely dead according to many specialists in Western Europe. Martin Malia,
chairman of the Berkeley University Chair of Russian Studies, supposed that Russia may
have secessionist thread in the Far-East.
In Eastern & Central Europe, the EU planned to admit 8 states in 2004 and 2
others in 2007 including countries such as Baltic States or Roumania : these first coutries
have been part of the Russian Empire since 1721. In 2005, the European Council to want
to help caucasians republic to maintain their independance.This was a clear agression to
the traditional Russian Strategic sphere. Moreover, Bruxelles is looking to integrate
Balkanic States and a very sensitive point for Russian identity : Ukraine meanwhile the
Privatization of post-communist economies: policies and results (RUSSIA). The rapid pace of privatisation of former state enterprises has been touted as one of the major successes of the Russian government's economic transformation policy. By the beginning of 1996 77.2% of medium-size and large enterprises had been privatised, accounting for 88.3% of total industrial output ( Blasi, 26). At that ...
United States with the European Union focus on destabilizing the Russian influence in the
Caucasus. As exemple, Bruxelles offered 900 millions euros between 91 and 98 with a
The weakness of the Russian Federation is surely a very unique opportunity to
expand some other strategic influences in the Russian Traditional one in which the
souvenir of the soviet oppression makes people diffident towards Russiaʼs new
authoritarianism through Vladimir Putin.
The United States are the main thread to security of Russiaʼs strategic area in
Eastern Europe. Washington DC has a great strategic plan to expand their influence in the
former territories of the “Red Block”. Excepted the great power they have on traditional
anti-russian and anti-soviet states like Poland or the Baltic States, the United States are
trying to kick out Russia of the Caucasus and from countries like Georgia, Azerbadjan and
also Armenia thanks to strong allies like Turkey. PRESSION SUR LES MARGES. V.Putin,
at the very beginning of his presidency wanted a strong relationship with the US and
authorized the US Army to create military basis in Central Asia, Russiaʼs former Empire, in
order to fight againt terrorism after the 09/11… His idea was to convince DC to accept his
concept of a package deal for Russia : a king of new Yalta who was supposed to let to
Russia her former territories and to recognize her “near abroad”.But the aim of the US is to
control a very strategic area for energy supplies. Most part of pipelines use this way to
transit in Western Europe and Russiaʼs thread to block energy delivering is so important
that a lot of states want to diversify ways to furnish their markets. This project to evince
Educational conflicts Russian educational system (its development and the way of work) is of great interest. For a long period of time, Russia took a leading position in education, and influenced greatly on many countries of the former socialistic camp. During a period of 50 years the system was not changed much. The countries of the former USSR existed in a close society. Thats why schools and ...
Russia from the new road of energy and the one to build a new strategic axis of exchange
between the Far East and Weastern Europe is called “New Silk Road” ( BTC, TRACECA,
We can now notice that both a strategic aim to lower Russiaʼs influence in the zone
and to invest in a quite strategical area for the XXI rst century challenge are entwined.
Frozen conflict must be understood as a diplomatic and territorial weapon for
Russia. First of all, frozen conflitcs especially Moldavian one gives the possibility to the
Russian army to conserve a whole strategic structure in the earth of Europe and to be a
thread, a real and concrete one for countries which are looking for integrating the EU. Itʼs
quite easy to understand how risky would be the choice to unify Moldovia with Romenia.
Itʼs a very important security problem for Europe. The central question of borders in EU
deals with frozen conflicts. But we donʼt have to forget that Frozen Conflicts are also a very
sensitive issue for EU diplomacy and Russia can negociate his position into these conflict
in other strategic deals. We absolutly need to understand the thrad for Russia to be
excluded from the New Silk Road to understand why Moscow helps a lot Teheran and is
furnishing nuclear power to this “rog state” according to the USA. A strong and dangerous
Iran is a real argument againt the New Silk Road for the moment and until Iran would be a
thread for security in the world, all projects of not going by Russia for energy supply are
Focus on case study : the Caucasian situation.
II) Russiaʼs future as a key actor of solving frozen
A) Evolution of Russian attitude discovering the geopolitical interest of the Frozen
T h e f o r m e r M A R C H E S o f t h e R u s s i a n E m p i r e
which wanted to take their independance in 1991, allowed by Gorbatchev were Republic
of the Soviet Union. This State was divided into 15 Republics and only these one got the
possibility to get their indepenance. Now, frozen conflits are secession in territories of
these former republics of the Soviet Union. We have the risk to create a precedent in
Abstract The history of Mennonites in Manitoba, part of a larger, North American group of Mennonites, is closely linked with their past in other countries. What is examined in this paper is the link between these histories - a period of emigration in the late 19 th century, from Russia to Canada and the United States. The investigation is into the true causes of this emigration, and why other ...
ethnic protestation in older political constructions.
Frozen conflicts, we noticed it, despite the CIS, appeared during the collapse of the
Soviet Union so they are not recent and some of them like Moldovia-Transnistria one in
under of cease of fire since 16 years. Russia didnʼt manage at the very beginning to solve
the problem of Frozen Conflitct. Russia had better to do according to politicians and
moreover to manage a well-done economical transition to capitalism. So, Russia think for
years, that the fact of creating the CIS was enough to conserve strong relationships with
the former Empire and why not, to negociate some fusion of territories later, when Moscow
will be stronger. This was the idea of the Belarus-Russia pact and itʼs very easy to notice it
in the treaty of the 14/09/1995.
Frozen Conflicts were not so important for Russian Diplomacy if the States
concerned were members of the CIS because of a supposed friendship. They intend in a
long term to be like the EU, with Russia as a leader, so the challenge of Russian ethnic
minorities was not as sensible as today.
Now, Frozen conflict are one the most important issue for Russian diplomacy
because of the evolution of the strategic datas and situations in Eastern Europe and in the
regions we focus on. The CIS was a PIS-ALLER for Russia, something to maitain links
before to re-conquest the zone, but other members didnʼt intend to stay linked with Russia
too much. The CIS was a structure in order to divorce : it was impossible to do it too
quickly according to the entwined economies and this organizationʼs aim was to make
possible a safe and easy divorce for these countries. Russiaʼs attitude was a complete
indifference to maitain good relations or to make the impression to have deeply change.
The retreat ot the Russian Diplomacy was global and also in his near abroad because of
the high level of anarchy in the State. The Moldovian conflicts lived the intervention of a
Russian army which not obeid to Moscow ( officially ) protecting Transnistria against
Moldovians. This way to not establish new kind of relationship with strong partners pushed
many countries to think differently their future. Russiaʼs project to have her own influence
area like South America for the US can be understood thanks to the Monroe Doctrina.
Moscow wanted a Russian one with her former Empire through the Eltsin-Kozyrev
doctrina. As the traditional actor in this area, Russia was supposed to have special
responsabilities towards her near-abroad also if Russia was searching a post-imperial
status and identity after 1991. But Eltsin was a little bit like Gorbatchev and let diplomatic
relationships like “Intendance” and Russianʼs influence has been deeply challenged by the
EU and the USA.
In 1997, the NATO decided to open admissions to countries of Eastern Europe
meanwhile former highly strategic satellits of the Soviet Union were creating a parallel
organization to the CIS : the GUAM (Géorgie, Ukraine, Azerbedjan, Moldavie) and
Ouzbekistan a year latter. In 2000, Georgia expressed her determination to join the EU by
2005… how Russia plan to answer to this attitude ?
B) Russiaʼs instrument : How to use Frozen Conflicts in the “New Great Game” ?
Russiaʼs way to answer to the challenge of the new géostrategic strike in her former
Empire will decide of the future of Russia as a european, asian or eurasian actor. Still
today, Russia has not solved this problem and her strategy in a long-term.
60% of Russians citizens think that the disaster of the collapse of the S-U would
have been different with better politicians and 1/3 want to renew the former Russian
Empire. With 20% of its population outside of her borders, Russia has a big power of
influence other states with russian minorities in many countries : we saw it thanks to
Frozen Conflicts. How Russia is doing front against “extraregional forces” (Lavrov, 2007)
which are looking for remplacing Moscow as the main actor in the zone ?
The most common answer we see by Broadcasted news is strength. In 2004, after
the beginning of the “orange revolution” and the “rose revolution” in Ukraine and Georgia,
Russia understood that the idea to have a strategic deal with Western World was over.
Poutine launcher the counter-offensive the 21/04/2007 and decided to froze more and
more conflicts and to enhance some sleeping conflicts thanks to russian minorities.
Energy is now an official way to make pressure on States like we have seen it in
Ukraine ( the “friend” price is now the market price and Ukraine can not afford it so a deal
was made which gave 90% of the oil distribution sector to Russia) or in Moldavia in which
all the sectors linked with energy are now russian. In Central Asia, in order to not have
ethnic conflicts ( 9 millions russians live there), States signed agreements which give the
exclusive use of energy to Russia ( Kazakhztan & Turkmenistan in 2007).
This way may
seems primitive but itʼs efficient : in 1994, Kazakhztan wanted to launch an Eurosian Union
as a challenger of the CSI and later had close links with the US. 10 years later, Kazakztan
seems to have choose Russiaʼs alliance. Ukraine is in a political crisis and Russia seems
to begin a frozen conflict in Crimea which is a highly strategic area for Russian national
security thanks to separatist associations claiming the protection of Russian minorities.
When Russia can not make war (also if the Georgian events of this summer change this
affirmation), Russia give massively the Russian citizenship to people ( with some incomes
like retirement funds) which create russian minorites bigger than they are in reality. Poor
population non-russians find Russians ancestors in order to get money… Thatʼs why is
happening in Caucasus and now in Ukraine and we may qualify it of ANNEXION
RAMPANTE. Russiaʼs war to Georgia this summer was in part make legitimate to protect
=> With this prospective, Russia is using and promoting Frozen Conflicts to push back into
Moscowʼs influence States which want to become too much independant from their former
=> This is also a way to qualify risky some spaces where pipelines were planned to be
build and to moove pipelines on Russian territory : thatʼs a way for Russia to be in the new
Is it possible for Russia to admit to have lost an imperial status ? Thatʼs a an other
answer to Frozen Conflicts. Russia may admit that the time in which independent States
were in reality under her control is over and now let democracy decide of the future of
We may see in many former soviet union countries or satellites a very negative
vision of Russia especially in Baltic States. These one as many others are doing a revision
of the teaching of History. A big crisis has appened in Moldavia in 2004 when Transinistria
created his own history book for school in which Russia was assimilated with freedom…
Many Baltic States opened museums putting Hitler and the S-U at the same level.
The cyrillic alphabet is being remplaced by the latin one in many places of the
former Russian Empire but the most important thread for Russianʼs influence in the area is
the departure of russians minorities to Russia. 8 millions Russians went back to Russia
during Eltsinʼs presidency as exemple and the part of Russian in Central Asia from 1991 to
2001 falled of 2 points. In a way, the earth of the Russian foreign policy, protect Russian
minorites is falling down in front of migrations… Alexandre Nikitine, a famous russian
intellectual, thinks that Russia must resign from an imperial status to find a post-imperial
one in which Moscow must admit that times have changed. Moldavia, in spite of coming back to Russia with the frozen conflict, is more and more resolute to choose her identity
with an European Union dimension.
A Russian model ?
The only solution for Russia is it to become a model ? Strength is not a long term
solution to prepare cooperation between States and this method is out to date. Russia
must be attractive in the zone to keep its influence. Russia must stimulate student
exchange in order to seem friendly and attractive to tomorrowʼs elite of the borders
country. Itʼs quite sure that Russia and its near abroad will be deeply linked thanks to the
great coming back of the Russia as a powerful State but relationship must change with
differents methods. “Russian as a foreign-language programm (2006-2010) “ is one of the
very few exemple gaved by the Kremlin in this sense to make attractive Russia as a model
and not as an oppressor State. In this way, Frozen Conflicts must be solved letting
democracry speak but the issue for Russia wonʼt be as great as wanted for Russiaʼs
influence…Here is the dilemne for Kremlin : to adopt a Western World position towards his
former Empire is to admit to have failed the transition of the Soviet Union… And admit for
V. Putin to have failed in his program for a “Greater Russia” for which he was elected in