The South Caucasus Republics and Russia's Growing Influence: Balancing on a Tightrope

By Bishku, Michael B. | Middle East Review of International Affairs (Online), March 2011 | Go to article overview

The South Caucasus Republics and Russia's Growing Influence: Balancing on a Tightrope


Bishku, Michael B., Middle East Review of International Affairs (Online)


With the breakup of the Soviet Union at the end of the Cold War, three republics in the South Caucasus-Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia-achieved independence from Russia for the second time during the twentieth century. Their first experience was contentious and short-lived, had little support of the major European countries and the United States, and was brought to an end by the newly formed Soviet Union, with the tacit approval of the Turkish government in Ankara. Located at the crossroads of Russia, the rest of Europe, and the Middle East, the republics' political and economic security has depended on the balancing of relations with both their regional neighbors and with the major powers. Their foreign policy has been shaped by matters of territorial integrity, historical memory, ethnic brethren residing abroad, and trade routes.

This article will examine the relations between the South Caucasus republics and Russia and how the former countries have attempted to lessen the latter's influence through ties with other major powers and neighboring countries. The South Caucasus republics' position with regard to Russia is somewhat similar to that of the Latin American states in the Caribbean Basin visà- vis the United States throughout much of the twentieth century. Perception of national interest would serve as justification for intervention in the affairs of the smaller neighboring states. The 2008 Russian- Georgian war has shown that the United States and others are reluctant to become directly involved in conflicts in what is regarded as "Russia's backyard." Two centuries of Russian and later Soviet control over these territories are in part responsible for this attitude. Also, the European Union is quite dependent on Russia for energy resources-33 percent of oil imports and 40 percent of gas imports1-while Turkey- which is also dependent, 29 percent of oil imports and 63 percent of gas imports2-and Israel are not willing to jeopardize political and economic ties with Russia over South Caucasus disputes.

SIMILARITIES AND DIFFERENCES IN THE SOUTH CAUCASUS REPUBLICS' RELATIONS WITH RUSSIA

Geographic location has necessitated that each South Caucasus republic balance its relations with Russia and other countries. This has not been an easy task-especially given the limited cooperation between the republics themselves and in the cases of Armenia and Azerbaijan, being in a state of war over Nagorno-Karabakh. One method employed by the South Caucasus republics is having (or seeking) membership in both regional and international political, economic, and military organizations.

Ethnic brethren residing in Russia and other foreign countries is another consideration in foreign policy. Most ethnic Georgians outside their country live in either Israel or Russia and their number in the latter country, some half a million, is roughly one-third the populations of both ethnic Armenians and Azeris in Russia.3 There are more than twice as many ethnic Azeris residing in Iran (some 15 to 20 million) than in their home country and about half as many (roughly 50,000) as the ethnic Georgian population in Israel.4 Besides those in Russia, ethnic Armenians in the diaspora-much larger in number than Armenia's population-reside in North America, Europe, and the Middle East, especially in the United States, Canada, France, Ukraine, Iran, Lebanon, Syria, and Turkey. Azeris and Armenians live in areas of eastern and southern Georgia.5

Of the three republics, Georgia has the worst relations with Russia and the closest ties with the West. In 2008, as a result of its war with Russia, Georgia withdrew from the Russian-led Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), whose membership includes all of the former Soviet republics except for the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. Along with its South Caucasus neighbors and Russia, Georgia is a member of the Istanbul-based Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) organization that also includes Turkey, Greece, Ukraine, Moldova, Albania, Serbia, Bulgaria, and Romania. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

The South Caucasus Republics and Russia's Growing Influence: Balancing on a Tightrope
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.