The continuing crisis in Ukraine has everyone wondering whether Putin will strike elsewhere in the post-Soviet space next. Russia has so far justified its actions by saying that it has an obligation to protect Russian speakers everywhere, which could plausibly be used as an excuse to make additional landgrabs in independent nations that used to be part of the USSR. The former Soviet states know that very well, and all of them are moving to defend themselves against a future Russian invasion. In some cases, that means that old foes are smoothing over their differences for the sake of increasing security; in others, that means appealing to the European Union and NATO for defense assurances. Here's a roundup of how the escalating situation in Ukraine is impacting all of the former Soviet states.
Poland’s foreign minister, Radoslaw “Radek” Sikorski, has been intimately involved in the Ukraine crisis, including in the negotiation of an agreement in February that then-Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych walked away from, further fueling the Maidan protest. Sikorski spoke with The Washington Post’s Lally Weymouth Wednesday, ahead of the diplomatic talks in Geneva aimed at defusing hostilities, about the crisis, U.S. global credibility and what Vladimir Putin has his eyes on next. Excerpts:
EU set to freeze plans to complete the $50bn South Stream gas pipeline through the Black Sea from Russia.
Top Turkish authorities, Prime Minister Erdogan first and foremost, have been voicing their eagerness to join China and Russia in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) on various platforms in recent years. Ankara recently became an SCO “dialogue partner”, and stated its willingness to participate more actively within the SCO as the single NATO member in such a position. Ankara has been demonstrating its will to increase mutual ties with Beijing through several important projects—and not only in economic terms but in the fields of defense, aviation, high-speed railroad infrastructure, nuclear energy, and high-technological cooperation as well. Such an effort to draw closer to China was reinforced by five top-level visits between China and Turkey from 2009 and 2012, including PM Erdogan's visit to China in April 2012—the first such visit in 27 years.
Conference of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Caspian states took place in Moscow, where parties summed up preliminary results of the preparations for the Fourth Caspian Summit, scheduled for September this year in Astrakhan.
Lithuania and Poland are planning to reduce or even completely abandon Russian gas. Perhaps in the Kaliningrad enclave will not Russian gas.
Not too long ago, members of the Chinese policy elite were still debating whether China’s ties with the United States would constitute their most important bilateral relationship. There was a consensus that China could become mostly trouble-free in its rapid rising to global power, as long as the U.S.-China relationship was stable. The idea that China should start pursuing a westward geopolitical strategy across the Eurasian continent toward Europe, and downgrade its heavy reliance on the geopolitical structures of the Asia-Pacific, was viewed in Beijing with much skepticism only a decade ago. But not anymore.
Russia's controversial South Stream pipeline, which would transport gas via the Black Sea into Europe towards the end of the decade, received support from Turkey on Wednesday when Ankara said it may let the conduit pass through its territory.
What you see depends on where you are standing…and the view of energy security from here on the banks of the Potomac River, is surely quite different from that on the banks of the Seine, the Thames, the Vistula, or of Faxafloi Bay.
On 15 April, the Foreign Minister of Latvia Edgars Rinkēvičs travelled to Finland, where he met with Finnish President Sauli Niinistö and his counterpart, Erkki Tuomioja, among other high-ranking Finnish officials, and discussed Latvia’s upcoming EU presidency and ways to increase Baltic-Nordic cooperation, reports the Latvian Foreign Affairs Ministry.