West May Well Need Rus­sia — to Sta­bil­ise its Old Empire

As a res­ult of the war in Ukraine, Alex­an­der Gabuev rightly notes that Rus­sia is los­ing its abil­ity to play the role of regional power broker (“Nagorno-Kara­bakh shows Rus­sia has lost con­trol of its near-abroad”, Opin­ion, Octo­ber 3).

Gabuev’s ana­lysis begs the ques­tion of which act­ors and what actions — if any — will replace Moscow’s dimin­ished influ­ence and sta­bil­ising role in the South Cau­casus and Cent­ral Asia, and what are the con­sequences for local people if they do not.

While acknow­ledging that Azerbaijan’s recent offens­ive to end, once and for all, the de facto Nagorno-Kara­bakh repub­lic is “a power­ful illus­tra­tion of the sad real­ity that ‘might makes right’”, Gabuev appears to accept the like­li­hood of large-scale viol­ence and of increased suf­fer­ing in regions long under Rus­sia’s influ­ence as the new nor­mal. “The destabil­ising effects”, he con­cludes, “will con­tinue to be felt across the vast Euras­ian land­mass”.

This raises the ques­tion of whether it may in fact be in the interest of the US and the west to see Rus­sia con­tinue to act as a sta­bil­ising force in parts of the region.

Read the full piece in Financial Times.