Not apart with complications: How Russia will build relations with its closest neighbors in 2019

January 9, 2019 Wednesday
NOT APART WITH COMPLICATIONS: How Russia will build relations with its closest neighbors in 2019
by Vladimir Solovyov
Source: Kommersant, N1, January 9, 2019, pp. 1, 4  
Armenia. Idol to your home
"Velvet Revolution", arranged by Nikol Pashinyan, made the whole world search for this country on the map and figure out what is happening there.
Bloodless change of power was highly appreciated in the West, while the Russian authorities cautiously watched the Armenian revolution and its leader. And almost for the first time in modern history, the official reaction of Moscow, which has always been negative towards any protest movement, whether in their territory or on their neighbors', was definitely neutral, if not benevolent.
"We are committed to the continuation of joint work on strengthening and developing multifaceted mutually beneficial Russian-Armenian cooperation and allied cooperation in the interests of the peoples of both countries," the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
Belorussia. Bridal ceremony
In the Belarusian direction, nothing unexpected has happened. Pre-New Year quarrels in Minsk and Moscow became a tradition that was not violated this time either. However, the degree of confrontation between the countries has increased.
Georgia. We do not expect changes
In Georgia, 2018 was marked by a sad anniversary for Tbilisi – ten years ago in August 2008, the country lost the war with Russia. Its result was Moscow's recognition of the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. In both partially recognized republics, the Russian military are deployed, and the chances that this status quo will change are zero.
Although the diplomatic relations between Moscow and Tbilisi are severed, the parties are engaged in sluggish negotiations on trade and customs issues.
Moldavia. The pro-Kremlin star is shining
For Moldova, 2018 was a pre-election year. February 2, the country will elect a new parliament. In the country whose population is roughly equally divided into those who sympathize with Russia and those who want to get to Europe, any elections in recent years fit into a simple scenario. The parties that call themselves pro-European declared the vote to be a decisive battle of the enlightened West with the darkness coming from the East. Pro-Russian politicians did the same, – however, according to their version, Russia sows sane, good seeds, while Brussels and Washington send hostile vortexes, bringing corruption, cosmopolitanism and homosexuality.
The first scenario is worked out by the ruling Democratic Party, headed by the extremely unpopular oligarch Vladimir Plahotniuc. During each election campaign, the Democrats announce the hunting season for "agents of the Kremlin."
In order to become declared a "hand of Moscow," it is enough to speak out with criticism of the Democratic Party or Mr. Plahotniuc.
The Socialist Party and its leader – Moldovan President Igor Dodon, – are working out the second option, .
Ukraine. A bloody dispute
Ukraine also lives in the pre-election regime: there, they will elect president in March. Petro Poroshenko is unpopular, but he is still in control of the situation and he is tearing up one by one agreements with Russia, which he considers the enemy. In September, he signed a decree on the termination of the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Partnership with the Russian Federation. The head of the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry, Pavel Klimkin, has counted that Kiev had already broken 48 agreements with Moscow and intended to do the same with another four dozen treaties.
The post-Soviet space is a source of constant problems for Russia. In 2018, Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine were the leaders. The Kremlin has conflicts of varying degrees of severity with each country, and it does not matter whether the latter is in an alliance with Moscow like Minsk, or is its open opponent like Kiev. Relations with the above five states will obviously generate new scandals in 2019.