- Robert Gates is trying to reassure Ukraine and the Baltic states that we’re with them in the wake of Medvedev’s missiles-to-Kaliningrad saber rattling (and possibly the election of Barack Obama who has looked less than resolute in opposing Russian revanchism).
- The Russians are expanding their military presence in Central Asia, whose countries’ militaries are so weak as to effectively be demilitarized relative to Russia or China. The CIS CSTO is the ostensibly multilateral security organization for the region, but, like the CIS itself, it’s really mostly a framework for keeping Russian influence in its neighbors. Read the whole thing for a judicious assessment for what the increased presence might—and might not—mean. Money quote: “Bekmukhammad says that so far no one has seen the clear threats Moscow has been warning about.”
- The strongest of the Stans’ militaries belongs to Uzbekistan, the only “‘Stan” lacking a border with Russia or China, and thus one inclined to be more independent-minded. They’ve withdrawn from another Russian-figleaf organization and are trying to cadge investment from the West. Your Volgi isn’t enthused about getting in bed with the likes of Islam Karimov, a nasty dictator, though to his credit one who hasn’t done much to destabilize his neighbors, all of whom have sizable Uzbek populations. You wouldn’t want to live under his government (though by the standards of Central Asian history, it’s relatively mild despotism), but arm’s-length, indirect assistance is probably worth trying in order to keep Central Asia’s plentiful energy supplies from falling under Russian control (especially given Russia’s history of throwing around “we’ll cut you off” to bludgeon its neighbors into falling into line).
Всего доброго, дружки мои!
—Конфуции, Вселенский Волги Древнего и Дворянского Ордена Гормогонов
That’s Vinni-Pukh, the Russian Winnie-the-Pooh whom your Volgi loves unreservedly and who punks the Disney Pooh utterly.
Don’t ask impertinent questions like that jackass Adept Lu.