February 1, 2018

Russia’s “Allies”

Those very few countries who align themselves with Russia are almost habitually written off by Western observers as hopeless cases when it comes to cooperation.

They are perceived as being so firmly positioned in Moscow’s orbit of influence that trying to engage and draw them closer to Western institutions is often seen as futile effort. Yet, it is reasonable to ask how deep and close such ties with Russia really are. Perhaps, after closer inspection, those countries should be seen as “allies” rather than allies.

This report focuses on Belarus, Armenia, and Kazakhstan—three countries that are key members of the Russia-dominated Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) as well as the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU). They play a significant role in their respective sub-regions in Central-Eastern Europe, Southern Caucasus, and Central Asia respectively. They have close political, economic, military and cultural relations with Russia, but their ties with Moscow are far more complex than they seem at first glance. Russia’s allies wish to avoid isolation and seek better relations with Western countries and organisations, including the EU, and even NATO. The report offers conclusions and recommendations for Western nations and organisations with regard to improving cooperation with Belarus, Armenia, and Kazakhstan.

Download: Russia’s “Allies”(PDF)