Thursday, February 16, 2006
U.S.-Russia Dialogue: Eurasia (Post-Soviet Space)
It is clear that there is no accepted thinking about the "proper" role for Russia to play in the Eurasian space—and the extent to which Russia’s economic and political dominance gives it the right to chart the overall direction of the region.
There is also increased concern that other Eurasian states might seek to draw the United States in to potential conflicts. While we were there, the incident with the detention of three Russian officers in Southern Ossetia by Georgian forces was coming to an end, and there were discussions about whether or not the Georgian government of Mikheil Saakashvili might be tempted to use force or provoke an incident in an attempt to bring the separatist regions of Georgia back under central control--confident in the belief that the United States would fully back Georgia in any possible clash that might result with Russia. My concerns is that there appear to be too little crisis management operations set up in Washington and Moscow to prevent a small incident from blowing up into a major confrontation.
Expect the US, rhetoric aside, to maintain a convenient ambiguity. If Georgia picks unnecessary fights with Russia, the blush is off the rose. Notice the silence emanating from Washington when Georgia lately accused the Russians of pipeline sabotage.
The question mark is how Kosovo negotiations affect the American willingness to tolerate Russian assertiveness in the limbostates.