Post-Soviet space between US and Russia
After Donald Trump became the US president, experts hold very different views on a further strategy of the US and NATO in the post-Soviet space. Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger is convinced that "Russia is holding back American hegemony in the world, and the US is holding back Russia in the post-Soviet space." The expert on the post-Soviet space, Paul Goble, says that "Moscow reacts extremely negatively to the actions of a third country in the region" and does not believe that "the US had or has an intention to limit Russia's influence in the post-Soviet space."
An associate professor of the Russian State University for the Humanities, Alexander Gushchin, looks at the situation in its development: "After the arrival of the new US president the situation has become more tense. The forecasts of some political scientists in the end of last year that the post-Soviet space would not be a priority for the republican administration were not justified".
Gushchin considers the "post-Soviet space" to be a conditional term: "Despite a number of integration points such as a common humanitarian Russian language, the CIS free trade zone and etc., there's more of disintegration factors. We can talk about several subregions - the South Caucasus, Central Asian, Ukrainian-Moldavian as well the Baltic Sea. They are different from each other. The western part of what we call the post-Soviet space remains in the priority of US foreign policy, and not in a pro-Russian way."
According to Alexander Gushchin, the opposition bloc in Ukraine has already petitioned US representatives that the rights of the media are being violated in the country, and so on: "Everyone appeals to American representatives. Even if one hypothetically suggests that some other forces will come to power in Ukraine, the overall vector of Kiev's inscription into the Western format, into the NATO format will not change anyway. Thereforeб there is little hope that Ukraine will get out of the West's influence or the West will "surrender" Ukraine and will agree on terms of neutrality or a non-bloc status, the so-called Finlandization".
Guschin is convinced that Russia faces very serious challenges in the post-Soviet space in terms of formulating its policy: "It is important how we will build relations with post-Soviet partners. Elites of these states seek support from external actors to balance Russia's influence. Russia's political initiatives often raise questions even in our traditional partners in the Eurasian Economic Union, for example, in Kazakhstan. The topic of NATO's cooperation is always present in Armenia. Therefore, our post-Soviet policy should not only be brought to a higher priority level, but we also should be clearly aware of these challenges coming from within these states, and not just from the West. "
Meanwhile, on July 9-10, a representative delegation of the North Atlantic Council, chaired by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, visited Ukraine. The visit was timed to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Charter on a Distinctive Partnership between Ukraine and the NATO on July 9, 1997 in Madrid.
"On the one hand, we see Ukraine, which is ready for anything in relations with NATO. The question is how far the NATO bloc would go in relations with Ukraine. Perhaps, the NATO member states will strengthen their partnership with Ukraine, including the supply of weapons. This formula is very convenient for NATO, because they do not assume any obligations, but at the same time use Ukraine to the fullest. Ukraine is a springboard. It will be organizationally included in the structure, only when the tasks for using this territory as a springboard will be fulfilled," the director of the Institute of Russian Abroad Sergei Panteleyev said.
He also drew attention to the statement of NATO Secretary General about the need for partnership relations with Russia: "On the one hand, we see now that they continue their offensive, but on the other hand, we see that they keep in mind those plans that speak of their awareness of Russia's current military power and of their attempts of a diplomatic settlement of those issues that can be resolved diplomatically. That message, by and large, was transformed into the words of [Ukrainian President Petro] Poroshenko, that Ukraine does not initiate the process of joining the North Atlantic Alliance at the moment. The question is whether we, two sides of a big geopolitical conflict, are ready to enter the very hot, very unpleasant stage, which, in fact, we are approaching today. If there is enough political wisdom, I hope it will not happen, but the situation is really very close to a hot one."