One of the less-appreciated ways in which Russia has worked to assure its dominance in its immediate sphere has received less attention than most. International news is concerned with state gas giant Gazprom, which threatens Europe’s energy security and acts as a form of hard soft power over Europe and Russia’s backyard. Secondarily, it notes depravities such as Russia’s occasional decision to simply invade one of its neighbors. Infrequently, it catches the use of Russian diplomatic power — granting Russian passports to potential breakaway regions — to yield its ends.
For some inexplicable reason, outright bribery through military transfers falls beneath the radar.
In the case of Armenia, this is undoubtedly due to the secondary effects of its diaspora and the latter’s disproportionate influence in the West, though the country’s English-capable leadership does not hurt matters. For sending $1 billion in military aid to Kyrgyzstan, the cause appears to be an endemic uncertainty in the West on how the country’s name is pronounced combined with a generalized belief that all of the -stans must more or less be the same.
This is indefensible. Russia is taking advantage of regional uncertainty and Western ambivalence to become the military supplier of choice to its neighborhood. This is, if not a crime against humanity, certainly a sin, as Moscow is managing to spread its imperial ambitions, regional instability, and sub-par weaponry into an already potentially volatile area.
Yet the West looks on, without comprehension. And when Kyrgyzstan settles its border disputes and Armenia enters a full shooting war with Azerbaijan, both with Russian-supplied arms and armor, the guardians of freedom and democracy will be no less dumbfounded.
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