| 20 March 2023, Monday |

Russia cautions regional allies against aligning with the United States

After what Moscow claimed was a Western-backed coup attempt in Georgia akin to the Ukrainian “Maidan” revolution of 2014, Russia on Friday warned allies across the former Soviet Union of the dangers of siding with the United States.

Since President Vladimir Putin ordered soldiers into Ukraine in February of last year, Russia, which is embroiled in the worst conflict in Europe since World War Two, has seen its authority questioned by a number of neighbors and traditional allies.

In Tbilisi, thousands of Georgians took to the streets over three consecutive nights to protest against what they said was a Russian-inspired “foreign agents” law that threatened to derail the country’s bid for closer ties with Europe.

“It is very similar to the Kyiv Maidan,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told state television, referring to the 2014 Maidan revolution which toppled a pro-Russian president in Ukraine.

“It seems to me that all the countries located around the Russian Federation should draw their own conclusions about how dangerous it is to take a path towards engagement with the United States’ zone of responsibility, its zone of interests.”

The remarks from Putin’s top diplomat indicate the level of nervousness in Moscow over the weakening of its authority everywhere from Armenia and Azerbaijan in the South Caucasus to Kazakhstan and Tajikistan in Central Asia.

Putin casts the war in Ukraine as an existential battle with the West over the future of both Russia and its former Soviet and imperial satellites which since 1991 have been courted by the United States, NATO, the EU, and China.

Washington, Brussels and NATO say they are legitimately building ties with countries which became independent after the fall of the Soviet Union – and that many fear their much more powerful neighbour Russia.

  • Reuters