Five years ago a Russian diplomat observed that if the price of stability in Central Asia was an American presence there, then that stability and presence were unacceptable. In other words, war was preferable to stability in Russia’s borderlands if Russia did not provide that stability. Another way of saying this is that if Russia cannot or does not provide stability then it will make certain nobody does.
War on Russia’s frontiers is the precondition for Russian security as long as Moscow can manage that war. As many have discerned, Russia has long honed its skills in generating “controlled chaos” in Central Asia, the Caucasus, Syria, Moldova and Ukraine. So it should be clear to us that Russia’s policies for these regions is more of the same until they are totally subordinated to Russia.
This diplomat was also consciously voicing as well Moscow’s belief that it alone decides how far the actual sovereignty (and implicitly territorial integrity) of post-Soviet states should extend and its definition of Russia’s needs overrides any international accords it may have signed regarding that sovereignty and integrity. Moscow is not merely restating the infamous Brezhnev doctrine of diminished sovereignty for the Soviet bloc. It also is reminding us that Moscow’s mission is essentially an imperial one because the precondition for empire is that the borderlands and subordinate regions possess diminished sovereignty.