Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Mind you - perhaps it wasn't so weird?

"The West needs Russian cooperation in the fight on terrorism, it badly needs Russian oil and natural gas because the Middle East is unstable, and is in no position to actively resist a major move by Moscow to dominate and reintegrate the former Soviet republics. Sources close to the Kremlin have expressed the view that the Bush administration has already signaled its readiness to accept the territory of the former Soviet Union (minus the Baltic states) as being Russia's "sphere of influence," giving Moscow a free hand to dominate the region.

Indefinitely maintaining troops at a high cost in Moldova -- a landlocked country that has no common border with Russia -- does not seem to serve any obvious Russian national interest. It only makes strategic sense if the Kremlin has plans to link up with that outpost by retaking all or a large part of Ukraine.

Such plans are in fact much discussed today in Moscow. One version doing the rounds is that after 2008 when Putin's second term as president expires, he may continue as supreme leader by becoming president of a revitalized union (all the more painful, therefore, the rebuff Moscow received last week in Moldova).

Reunification plans are being pursued not only in Moldova. In Georgia, after the ousting of President Eduard Shevardnadze, Moscow has been increasingly openly supporting separatist regional governments. The new government in Tbilisi has clearly been given a choice: Bow to Moscow or Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Adzharia may by "reunited" with Russia."

So says Pavel Felgenhauer of the Moscow Times.

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