the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Cold War was over and unipolar system has
emerged. However, especially with and during the Putin’s administration, Russia
started to follow more assertive and coercive diplomacy in both regional and
international arena. That’s is why the discourse of Cold War came to the
agenda. In a sense, it is true that Russia has never abandoned its global power
ambitions, and followed a foreign policy which fits and helps them to make them
great again. To achieve those ambitions, energy has been used as an instrument
by Russian policy makers.
Russia used energy as coercive
diplomacy tool for both Caucasus and Central Asia. Along with the fact that the
former Soviet Union region is important to keep Russia’s status as a great
power, the level of salience for the regions are not the same. That means that
Russia is targeting the states which is relatively have high energy salience to
keep them in its sphere of influence. It was concluded in the passage that
Russian coercive energy diplomacy was determined by different energy salience
scores which are the existence of natural gas reserves, being a transit state
or not; percentage of the ethnicity of Russian in those states; being
adversaries or allies: and the institutional context. Russian energy policy
which is about giving how much importance to the Caucasus or Central Asian
countries is determined by those factors. It was also concluded that Caucasus
regions are relatively much more salient than the Central Asian region dependent
on different variables such as rivalry between the United States and Russia in
those areas. Because US involvement has been higher in comparison with the
Central Asia, which was seen as a threat by Russia.
If we look at to the region more
specifically, Caucasus region holds an important place in the Russian great
power identity compared to the Central Asia due to the historical high stakes
in security issues and the region’s important strategic economic implications.
However, that doesn’t mean that all the countries have the same priority in the
eyes of Russia. For example, Although Georgia and Azerbaijan have the
high-salience, Armenia has the low-salience one. More specifically, Georgia is
highly salient to the Russian state mainly because of its positioning as the
transit country and its memberships in the organizations such as GUAM which is
seen as a US-backed counter to the Russian-dominated CIS; member of the
European Union’s Economic Neighborhood Policy, which is based on the values of
democracy, rule of law and respect of human rights which are far from
Russians. On the other hand, Armenia has
depended upon Russia for its livelihood in terms of military, diplomatic, as
well as energy support, Western integration for the Caucasus state has been limited.
As this conflict remains frozen, Armenia remains close to Russia which keeps
the salience level low.
Public opinion was also seen a kid
of pushing force to act coercively in the regions. Because it is state which
consist of citizens who are evaluating the situations and considering the
countries in the region as adversaries. Even in Russia which controls the
media, it reflects the people’s mind. Most of the Russian population are
looking at the event such as Georgian War as a defensive military act to defend
its honor and great power identity. It is making the leaders hand stronger both
in regional and international arena.
Russia saw its great power identity
and its energy monopolization slipping in the Caucasus; thus, the conflict was
a tool to reassert both the former and the latter. Great power identity and
dominance over the former Soviet Union is also achieved through coercive energy
tactics, which is the final impact factor contributing to the motives behind
this peculiar Russian policy.
Historical importance is another
important dimension which determines the coercive energy policy. Russia tries
to increase its influence in those areas as a counter attack to restore its
national honor and its great power identity. That’s is why they have to get the
US and West out of those regions and bringing the states in line either by
cooptation or coercion.
However, Central Asian counties have
s different story. It is becoming a region of competition between Russia and
China, not US. It is not considered having the same importance compared with
Caucasus. Because Russia is the main actor in the region and nonexistence of US
is making Russia more comfortable. The United States and Russia, therefore, do
not have rivalry issues in Central Asia as they do in the Caucasus region Also,
these states are all landlocked and need the assistance of other countries and
their territories to get their gas to external markets. In another looking,
there are more authoritarian regime which making Russia closer to the governments
or neither country has natural gas reserves, nor do they serve as important
pipeline transit states for Russian natural gas. Or they are already in the
organizations which led by Russian. Public opinion is also in favor of them.
This makes these countries less salient.