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Need for a ‘base’less strategy!
Russia should adopt a responsible approach towards former Soviet states

Despite attempts from the two sides to play down the hype, the recent deal between Armenia and Russia is enough to make neighbour Azerbaijan see red. The deal will allow Russia to continue with its military base at Gyumri in Armenia, which was supposed to be dismantled in 2020, till 2044. However, this is in exchange of new weaponry and fresh security promises for Armenia, which suspects fresh threats from Azerbaijan over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh territory. Russia will also rebuild two new nuclear power reactors with an estimated investment of $5 billion. With this deal, Russia can retain its military and diplomatic foot-hold in the Caucasus region.

Evan after the collapse of USSR, Russia always wanted to retain its strong influence over former USSR states – and that ambition got fuelled further as it started losing its diplomatic influence in other parts of the world. It chose military bases as the primary tool to control states. Russia has military bases in almost every nation under the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). It has the 201st motorised division stationed in Tajikistan, which was recently upgraded to military base status. It has an airbase at Kant in Kyrgyzstan and a base in Sevastopol on the Crimean Peninsula to control Ukraine. It is also in conversation with South Ossetia and Abkhazia to open several military bases to keep an eye over Georgia.

Military bases have helped Russia, but are increasingly proving to be very expensive and undesirable. That is the reason why Russia had to close military bases in Cuba and other parts of the world. Military might is no longer a way to control former Soviet states. They expect respect from Russia and a sense of equality. And in current times, this works much better than power brandishing. In June this year, EU’s talks with Ukraine on a free trade zone were suspended. This, therefore, is a wonderful chance for Russia to lead the idea of a CIS Free Trade Zone and gain easily achievable brownie points.

By:- Akram Hoque

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