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4. Russia: conflicts and peaceful settlement of disputes




In 1997 Russia intensified its efforts to
promote settlement of the unresolved conflicts over territory
and status across the former Soviet Union. At the same time there
was growing concern in Moscow about challenges to its position
from competing influences, particularly in the oil-rich areas
of Central Asia.

Russia played a prominent role in launching
and promoting a political reconciliation process in Tajikistan.
It increased pressure for negotiations between the conflicting
parties in the Trans-Dniester region of Moldova, Abkhazia in
Georgia and Nagorno-Karabakh in Azerbaijan, where the peace process
remained fragile. Russia and Chechnya moved towards a practical
modus vivendi in their postwar relations, although the future
status of Chechnya remained an open question.

While Russia continued to place a high foreign
policy priority on developing the Commonwealth of Independent
States (CIS) as a reliable Russian-centred power pole, the viability
of this policy was called into doubt as CIS member states increasingly
sought to distance themselves from Russia.