which also belongs to this group, is a republic with a vast
territory populated by a diverse ethnic mix of Turkic, Mongol, and
Slavic populations. Geographically, it occupies a position between
Russia and the central Asian republics. Historically, economically,
and strategically, Kazakhstan gravitates more toward Russia.
are further reinforced by the fact that ethnic Russians constitute
nearly half of its population. Russia’s famous Baikonur
space-vehicle launching site is also situated in Kazakhstan. The
deepening economic, political, cultural, and military integration
between Russia and Kazakhstan is vital for the prosperity of both of
small republic of Moldova is also likely to maintain its close ties
to Russia. The majority of its people are ethnic Moldavians, who
speak a language that is virtually identical to Romanian. But
Moldova is also inhabited by large numbers of Russians, Ukrainians,
Gagauz, Romanians, Jews, and others and is often compared to an
ethnic powder keg.
The process of
Moldova’s separation from the USSR was agonizing and bloody.
Political turmoil was fueled by ethnic tensions between Russians and
Ukrainians, on the one hand, and Moldavians, on the other. In 1992
the Russian-speaking populations rebelled against Moldovan authority
and formed the breakaway Dniester republic in the so-called
Transdniester region. The region is located to the east of the
Dniester River and contains large numbers of Russians and
Ukrainians. The confrontation escalated into a drawnout military
Finally, in 1997
the Moldovan authorities and the leadership of the breakaway
Dniester region were persuaded to sign a memorandum on normalizing
relations. Russia, Ukraine, and the Organization for Security and
Cooperation in Europe acted as guarantors of the truce. Since then
the tension in the area has been largely contained.