Satellite of Love

Russia's Ungrateful Neighbors

Apparently subjecting vast swaths of Europe and Central Asia to a repressive totalitarian regime for much of the last century has somehow failed to put Russia in their good graces when Moscow comes calling once again. Hoping to secure their influence in the region, Russia has offered billions in aid to neighboring countries and threatened to cut off energy, but with seemingly little to show for their efforts. In one recent example of the country's declining influence, the country of Kyrgyzstan reversed a previous decision to close an American military base despite heavy pressure from Russia to kick the troops out and promises of $2 billion in aid. "A game of chance has developed in the post-Soviet space: Who can swindle the Kremlin in the coolest way?" a Russian military analyst, Aleksandr Golts, wrote at the time in response. Russia's 2008 war on Georgia has proved counterproductive as well in this regard, leading small ex-satellites to look to the West for greater protection.