What’s Next for Russia’s Front-Line States?

Russia’s annexation of Crimea and intervention in Eastern Ukraine in 2014, alarmed not only Western-leaning states in Central Europe and the Baltic but also Moscow’s traditional allies. These events signaled that Moscow is now willing and capable of using direct military force against perceived strategic threats in its self-proclaimed region of vested interests. With the exception of Ukraine and the Baltic States, this Letort Paper examines how Russia’s front-line states have adjusted their foreign policy posture since 2014. Belarus, Moldova, the states of Central Asia and the South Caucasus calculate the benefits and risks in their relationship with Moscow and either make concessions or strengthen their defenses accordingly to avoid triggering a Russian reaction. This Letort Paper provides a range of policy recommendations intended to maximize the opportunities of a new alignment with the West for these states while minimizing the risk of Russia, using again, those capabilities it has demonstrated in Ukraine and Syria.