Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the world’s attention has been justly focused on the war and the devastation inflicted on Ukrainian civilians. However, as the war drags on — and becomes ever more costly to Russia — policymakers in the United States and Europe must pay increasing attention to other areas where the diminution of Russia’s military reputation may upset local balances of power.
Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia have tried in different ways to balance the need for good relations with Moscow with a desire to support Ukrainian territorial integrity and sovereignty. Each has reason to be cautious: Moscow has exploited ongoing conflicts in all three countries to dominate its self-defined sphere of vital interests. While these conflicts persist, Moscow will maintain significant leverage over Yerevan, Baku and Tbilisi. Working with them to resolve these conflicts and preserve their sovereignty should be a priority for the United States and Europe.
USIP’s Donald Jensen looks at what Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s recent trip to several countries along the Black Sea means for U.S. policy, saying, “We are looking at the region in its entirety … and Romania, Ukraine and Georgia are key players in the broader effort to curb Russian influence in the region.”