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6. Conflict developments on the territory of the former Soviet Union




In 1993 the geopolitical area of the former Soviet Union predominantly remained
an area of domestic instability and inter-state conflict.

The crisis of September-October 1993 in Moscow, as well as the civil wars in
Tajikistan and Georgia, were all dramatic manifestations of power struggle
accompanied by violence. The introduction of market economies has largely
lagged behind the breakup of the old economic system and disintegration of
traditional economic links; the result is a formidable lowering of living
standards, fraught with social unrest.

Large-scale violence continued in Nagorno-Karabakh and Abkhazia, and separatist
trends have become more prominent and politically salient in Crimea. Concerned
with the rights of Russians in the `near abroad', Moscow proclaimed their
protection as one of its highest policy priorities, which contributed to
further tensions within and between the post-Soviet states. Alongside the
continuing withdrawal of Russian troops from the Baltic states, a number of
military-related issues inherited from the Soviet Union have remained highly
controversial, in particular those concerning the nuclear weapons in Ukraine
and the future of the Black Sea Fleet.

However, post-Soviet developments were characterized by a number of centripetal
trends as well. The de facto economic dependence of the Commonwealth of
Independent States (CIS) on Russia, as well as its actual or potential role in
conflicts developing in a number of areas, have given Moscow strong leverage in
the `near abroad'. As a result, after two years of operation, the CIS has been
consolidated and enlarged to embrace all the territory of the former USSR
except the Baltic states. Membership in the 1992 Tashkent Treaty on Collective
Security has also been broadened, after the initial ambitious goal of creating
joint armed forces was officially abandoned.

In Russia, the increased activism in—and to some extent also beyond—its
immediate vicinity has been largely rationalized as responding to its
great-power status as well as to its interest, ability and obligation to
operate as a `pacifier' in the turbulent post-Soviet territory. Outside Russia,
this is predominately interpreted as a clear indication of Moscow's
assertiveness and neo-imperialist ambitions. In fact, this dichotomy—if
remained unchallenged—might put the emerging post-cold war international
system to a serious test.