Research into this subject reveals that it’s among the country’s top foreign policy priorities even though its ‘democratic security’ policy has yet to be articulated, let alone acknowledged. The five examined case studies show that Russia’s stance has evolved with time and aligns with the particular circumstances in which each scenario is unfolding.
The Hybrid War of Terror on Kazakhstan, which might have been orchestrated by the US’ subversive anti-Russian “deep state” faction in a desperate attempt to sabotage their country’s upcoming talks with Moscow, resulted in the CSTO decisively undertaking a limited peacekeeping mission there upon President Tokayev’s request. This move provoked a lot of discussions about the Kremlin’s response to regional regime change threats. There have been four other serious ones since 2013 that deserve to be compared in order to obtain a better understanding of Russia’s evolving stance towards such threats:
The urban spree of terrorism popularly described as “EuroMaidan” took the Kremlin completely by surprise after it naively assumed that nothing of the sort would ever transpire there again following the 2004-2005 “Orange Revolution”. Russia eventually responded by attempting to broker a deal between then-President Yanukovich and the Western-backed so-called “opposition” but it was immediately violated by the latter after they violently seized power at their patrons’ behest. Ukraine is now ruled by fascist forces and a possible rapprochement with Russia seems all but impossible.
Russia’s CSTO ally was destabilized by the so-called “Velvet Revolution” Color Revolution led by now-Prime Minister Pashinyan in 2018, who successfully seized power through these means with Western backing and that of his country’s ultra-nationalist diaspora. Russia stood back, let it happen, then tried pragmatically working with him. Although rhetorically anti-Russian, Pashinyan moderated his policies in practice after his attempted “balancing” act between East and West failed. He’s since been humbled by his country’s loss in the 2020 Karabakh War and is now considered a reliable Russian ally.
Russia’s next CSTO ally to be rocked by Color Revolution unrest was Belarus after the West backstabbed its leadership following the summer 2020 elections despite President Lukashenko de facto pivoting towards them at Russia’s expense in the run-up to those events. Unlike in Armenia, Russia decisively supported the incumbent government and extended generous financial support to assist its sanctions-beleaguered economy, which made the country a reliable ally again. The kinetic phase of that regime change campaign has ended though the economic and informational dimensions are still being waged.
Shortly after the onset of the Belarusian events, Russia’s Kyrgyz CSTO ally once again experienced clan-driven political violence following its latest elections that revived fears of its infamous 2005 and 2010 unrest. Moscow called for calm and ultimately accepted the “phased leadership transition” that followed as part of a compromise between the government and its opposition. This was a pragmatic response which ensured that Russia didn’t back the wrong political horse while still managing to retain influence in this strategic country despite the incumbent government’s eventual replacement.
From these five examples (including Kazakhstan which was described in the introduction), one can obtain some better insight into Russia’s evolving stance towards regional regime change threats:
Accurately Assess The Situation:
The last thing that Russia wants is to bet on the wrong horse, let alone going all in behind them, which is why it accurately assesses such situations before reacting. If legitimate grievances motivated genuinely grassroots and peaceful mass opposition to a Russian ally, then the Kremlin is more likely to either pursue a balanced approach or pragmatically accept the change of government that follows shortly thereafter like what happened in Armenia and Kyrgyzstan. If it’s obvious that there’s a foreign-backed regime change campaign afoot, however, then it’ll solidly support its ally like in Belarus and Kazakhstan.
Scale Up Support When Required:
The Belarusian case study shows that Russia will scale up support for its Hybrid War-beleaguered allies whenever it’s required such as the economic and financial assistance that Moscow extended to Minsk following the West’s imposition of sanctions against it. Russia will also do the same after regime changes that topple a genuinely unpopular government like what happened in Armenia and Kyrgyzstan in order to stabilize the post-“revolutionary” situation there and ingratiate itself with those countries’ new leaderships.
Immediately Intervene When Necessary:
The Russian-led CSTO’s limited peacekeeping mission in Kazakhstan shows that Moscow will also immediately intervene when necessary. In particular, this follows an official request from its internationally recognized government in the face of credible threats to its ally’s security, sovereignty, and territorial integrity. This shows that Russia isn’t shy about taking decisive action when it feels it’s warranted in order to ensure its national security interests. The Kazakhstani state’s capture by foreign-backed terrorist forces would have instantly jeopardized the entire region had it not been thwarted.
Having explained all of that, several constructive critiques can also be made about Russia’s response to regional regime change threats:
Russian Intel Failed To Foresee & Avert These Scenarios:
Time and again, Russia’s intelligence services consistently fail to foresee and avert these regional regime change threats. They seem to have only realized what’s happening too late once events have already been set into motion. On the one hand, this confirms that Russia doesn’t “rule” over its region as a so-called “hegemon” like the US-led Western Mainstream Media always accuses it of, but it also shows that there are serious shortcomings in its intelligence collection and operational activities. These must be remedied as soon as possible in order to foresee and avert the next regional regime change threat.
Russia Still Struggles To Articulate Its “Democratic Security” Policies:
Russia’s “democratic security” policies, or its counter-Hybrid War tactics and strategies for reinforcing national models of democracy, have yet to be clearly articulated. This leads to confusion about its stance towards regional regime change threats and enables adversarial forces to manipulate the narrative void that Moscow still hasn’t filled. This shortcoming can be addressed in a comparatively easier manner than the prior one by simply acknowledging the existence of its “democratic security” policy and subsequently articulating it in the academic, media, political, social, think tank spheres.
All told, Russia’s response to regional regime change threats is intriguing to study. Research into this subject reveals that it’s among the country’s top foreign policy priorities even though its “democratic security” policy has yet to be articulated, let alone acknowledged. The five examined case studies show that Russia’s stance has evolved with time and aligns with the particular circumstances in which each scenario is unfolding. As the nature of these threats intensifies like in Kazakhstan, so too will Russia’s response, which will be characterized by decisiveness as it learns more about countering Hybrid Wars.