Moscow Conducts a Direct Dialogue with Kirgiz Government

By Arthur Dunn

The line of activity of the Russian Federation towards Kirgizia, led after the change of power in Kirgizia, proves that Moscow conducts a lame game. Instead of a complex approach, grounded on skilled use of the political environment recently established in the Republic, the Kremlin staked on a fragmented steps oriented on demonstration of segmented focus to the events in Bishkek. The overall line of Russian activity focused on protection of its own military and diplomatic units (first of all, the air force base of the Russian Federation Kant and the embassy of the Russian Federation) and on the establishment of direct contacts with the new Government of the country. At the same time no measures were undertaken even to demonstrate the readiness to assure security within the territory of the CSTO member-state and there was no attention revealed to the definition of political faith of the dethroned President Kurmanbek Bakiyev. Besides, the dialogue of the Government of the people’s trust has appeared to be built exclusively around the issue of assistance to new Kirgiz authorities instead of the issue of coordination of the framework forum of a bilateral interaction. Instead of leading an active policy, Moscow chose the tactic reply on the demands of Bishkek.
The main line of the direct dialogue of the Russian Federation with Kirgiz Government is an intensive search of political allies. Russia is choosing political players, ready to keep with it connections in case of appointment on the post of President. This is proven by the fact of negotiations of the authorities of the Russian Federation with two deputies of the Head of temporary Government – Almazbek Atambayeb and Sariyev. These meetings were imaged by the most Russian mass media as a kind of casting of future presidential candidates. However, this practical line is observed as wrong. After new constitution adoption (the referendum on this issue will be held on June 27th ), Kirgizia de facto will become a parliamentary republic. The power of President will be sufficiently reduced. At the same time, the potential of a Government and a Parliament will grow up significantly. They will gain more opportunities to define foreign and inner course of the country. In this Kirgiz situation there are almost no real applied prospects observed for influential neighbors.
The USA Actions
At the background of a lame game of Russia with Kirgizstan, the USA maintains the policy of demonstrative non-interference. Formally, Washington has established direct contacts with the Government of people’s trust. Already on April 10th there was a phone conversation between the assistant of the US State Secretary on South and Central Asia Robert Blake and the Head of the temporary Government Roza Otunbayeva. And on April 14th-15th Blake visited Bishkek, where he held talks with the new Administration of the Republic. Following the results the US State Secretary Assistant stated, that “the USA is ready to support Kirgizia comprehensively”. From the protocol point of view, this declaration became an affirmation of the preservation of the current political and power presence of Washington within Kirgiz territory. But in reality, the activity of the White House within this line, turned out to be soundly limited. The USA tried to avoid rapid steps that could reveal the unfavorable image of their presence in Central Asia. Washington has become a player, expecting independent regulation of Kirgiz problem.

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The line of Barak Obama Administration within the territory of the former USSR grounds on the course, when Washington doesn’t really influence local political leaders striving to keep equal contacts with official authorities as well with the opposition, independently from the character of contradictions, existing between them. For the USA it doesn’t matter who will control the power in post-soviet states. The White House lays importance on the level of control over the situation in each individual country by these of that political forces. Washington is interested for the local authorities really rule the country. Only in this case American Administration is ready to observe them as full-value partners. In political competition the USA orients on the formula “the battle is to the strong”. From the point of view of Obama’s Administration, there is no sense to stake on exclusively in favor of liberal power if they don’t have enough support from people. It’s easier to develop dialogue with an absolute winner of the internal political struggle. And then already America will use all instruments of political, military and economic impact to support its level of influence towards definite post-soviet entities.
For the first time the kind of formula of behavior was tested by the White House in Ukraine. Obama’s Administration demonstratively distanced from the participation in the contractions of Viktor Yanukovich and Yulia Timoshenko, letting them playing the game “till the end”. After the victory of Yanukovich in the second round of the elections on February 7th 2010 and his inauguration on February 25th, Americans started steady activity to enhance the existing connections with new legitimate Ukrainian authorities. Till now its results for outer observers are not evident yet. For example, the attention to new Ukrainian Government was given at the highest level by the White House only during the Nuclear Security Summit on April 13th in Washington.

However, despite this America has managed to establish a stable direct line of cooperation with Yanukovich and his circle, also due to the energy activity of its Ambassador in Kiev Tefft. It is supposed, that within the framework of this course there will be no significant cooling of cooperation within Washington-Kiev line. Moreover, Ukrainian experience will be used by Obama’s Administration in the context of other former Soviet republics.
The main reason for demonstrative reduction of the US interest to post-soviet states is the inability of Washington to lead diversified policy within the conditions of a complicated situation in a Great Near East. America leads two military campaigns – in Iraq and Afghanistan, and if the first one should formally end till the end of December 2011, then the second one can linger for an indefinite period of time.

Serious problems, related to terroristic threat, also exist within the territory of Pakistan. There is yet no solution of Iran nuclear issue. Moreover, the situation within Iran track remains at the level of the beginning of 2009. There is no clarity over the prospects of Near East peaceful regulation. By this Obama’s Administration starts losing the trust of its main regional ally Israel. In this situation, with all financial-economic difficulties, the White House has no time and resources to intensify within post-soviet direction.

There is and there will be no complete withdrawal from the region. Americans preserve operative connections with all regional entities. However, a former “imperial” activity can’t not be already observed. There is a great probability that Washington Administration will activate within the territory of the former USSR only after a final solution of all complicated issues of global agenda, many of which they inherited after the team of George Bush Junior. And this can happen not earlier than 2011-2012. It means that we are talking about the end of the first Presidential term of Obama. In terms of Presidential race the team of the US President will focus on the former Soviet republics in the scope urgent to win the votes of corresponding ethnic diasporas. There will be no “great” policy within the post-soviet area. Its launch is possible only in case of re-election of Obama for the second term. However, yet the prospect to accomplish the kind of scenario is not that high due to the falling of his popularity rating.
The Line of Moscow

A lame political line of the Russian Federation towards Kirgizia is the result of limited efficiency of the pool of Russian foreign affairs establishments. This pool, the main representatives of which are concentrated in the President’s Administration (PA) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) doesn’t possess a single view on the policy vector drawn within the area of the former USSR. In fact PA and MFA play two different games, not in a really consolidated way protecting Russian national interests within the framework “near circle”. By this if PA has a pretty clear understanding of the specificity of supervised territories, then MFA observes a post-soviet line as quite “non-prestigious”. It’s not an accident that the department of Sergey Lavrov observed the related states exclusively within political-regional frameworks of the CIS, despite the fact that this union turned into particularly declarative forum without any definite power a long time ago. The weakness of the MFA approach to the activity in this direction has led to the series of important flaws negatively affecting the policy of the Russian Federation within the framework of the former USSR area. They include almost full absence of real political protégés of Moscow in the post-soviet republics; insufficient integrity of political part of the accomplished line of activity; thinking with old “soviet notions” by development of the dialogue with local leaders, etc. By the kind of policy, there will be no qualitative shifts in the post-soviet policy of Russia.

And the temporary Government of Kirgizia will keep the stake on the policy of balancing in its activity within the international arena. Bishkek will try to maintain relatively equal dialogue with Moscow as well with Washington.