Growing Apart: The Impact of the Russian War in Ukraine on the Former Soviet Space

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Pàl Dunay


Connections: The Quarterly Journal, Volume 21, Issue 4, p.87-114 (2022)


Central Asia, Disintegration, former Soviet Union, Moldova, Russia, Russia-Ukraine war, South Caucasus, Ukraine


The full-scale war launched by the Russian Federation against Ukraine on February 24, 2022, began under a false assumption regarding the underlying grand strategy. The ongoing conflict has presented difficult choices for the states in the former Soviet Union, who have approached it with a mix of rational calculation and emotional considerations, viewing it as a conflict between two once brotherly nations. While Russia continues to wield significant influence, and some states depend on it as a security guarantor, the general consensus among the ten states is that Russia’s power and influence are waning. Consequently, they anticipate that Russia will pay less attention to its regional partners, allocate fewer resources to them, and that close association with Russia would strain relations with other important actors, particularly in the West. Russia’s influence has led seven of the ten states to not fully align with either the West or Moscow. While multilateral cooperation through organizations like the CSTO and EAEU was not paramount due to the prevailing “hub and spoke” structure, these states now face a noticeable stalemate. Despite Russia’s lingering influence, fueled in part by economic disparities, a rapid “growing apart” occurs in the area of the former Soviet Union. Some actors are distancing and disengaging faster than ever, leading to a shifting geopolitical landscape.

Last updated: Tuesday, 28 May 2024