Friday, September 22, 2023

Are all the Russian-backed unrecognized separatist nations in danger?

I've been wondering about fall-out from Russia's stalled invasion of Ukraine on other parts of the former Soviet space. There have been plenty of signs that Russia was losing influence over the Central Asian Republics. But I've been wondering about what will happen to all the Russian-inspired separatist regions as this drags on.

Russia has supported (and maybe even artificially created) separatist breakaway states in regions of Azerbaijan (the ethnic Armenian Republic of Artsakh), Georgia (both Abkhazia and South Ossetia), and Moldova (Transnistria). Those four, "countries" which have not been recognized as nations by most other countries in the world have even formed an organization which is unofficially called the Commonwealth of Unrecognized States. It is hard to tell how much local support there are for the governments of those breakaway republics without Russia propping them up. But with Russia distracted by the war in Ukraine, and more importantly, diverting most of its military resources to Ukraine (and thus away from those breakaway regions), can those alleged countries survive?

Yesterday, the first member of the Commonwealth of Unrecognized States lost any pretense of independence when Azerbaijani troops recaptured all of Nagorno-Karabakh and effectively ended the Republic of Artsakh. Russian "peacekeepers" were on the scene but did nothing to stop the surrender of the Artsakh government, nor did they do anything to enforce the Russian imposed 2020 ceasefire that had stopped Azerbaijan's prior effort to reconquer the territory.

I can only imagine what the leaders of Georgia and Moldova are thinking as they watched Russia do nothing to save the separatist regime they had propped up within Azerbaijan.