Magazine article Geographical

Near Abroad: Putin, the West, and the Contest over Ukraine and the Caucasus

Magazine article Geographical

Near Abroad: Putin, the West, and the Contest over Ukraine and the Caucasus

Article excerpt

NEAR ABROAD: Putin, the West, and the Contest over Ukraine and the Caucasus

by Gerard Toal; Oxford University Press; [pounds sterling]19.99 (hardback)

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

In a small section on the first floor of Stanfords Travel Bookshop in London, one can see on display a handful of road and railway atlases, recently published in Moscow. Significantly, most are not the atlases of just the Russian Federation, but those of 'Russia, Countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States and the Baltics'. To those not sure, the so-called 'Commonwealth of Independent States' (CIS) is a purely tokenistic 'union', formed in 1991, straight after the dissolution of the USSR, comprising ten former Soviet Republics. Taken together, the countries of the CIS plus the three Baltic republics: Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania - now part of the EU and fiercely independent - constitute what is known in Russia as blizhneezarubezh'ye - the term, rather crudely rendered in English as 'Near Abroad', whereas 'Russia's sphere of influence as seen by the Kremlin' would be a more geopolitically correct translation. …

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