The reluctant interventionist

A calm and secure Eurasia relies heavily upon control, suppression, and money. Protecting near-term economic growth seems to be what will shape the will of the region’s strongmen in 2022.

02
Eurasia

The media environment in
Armenia is likely to remain
highly polarised between
pro-government and opposition outlets but state interference will probably remain limited under the current government.

An authoritarian slide

Sources: Dragonfly SIAS, Committee to Protect Journalists, Freedom House, Reporters without Borders, World Bank
Note: All metrics (except for the Democracy rating) use a scale whereby a higher score indicates a worse outcome. A lower Democracy rating indicates a worse outcome.

Nearly every government in Eurasia is on a steady slide into greater authoritarianism, barring Moldova. The largest economies have set their sights on social media companies, seemingly out of fear of what such uncontrolled discussion could lead to for their regimes. Meanwhile smaller states are pursuing tried and tested methods of political interference, regulation and blunt intimidation to suppress civil society, independent media and opposition activism in equal measure.

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Forecasts

Dates to Watch

Key Indicators


Civil conflict in Kyrgyzstan

President Japarov’s attempts to tighten his grip on power next year are likely to meet some resistance from within the state. High-profile arrests of ministers and security officials would suggest opposition to him and wider discontent is growing, particularly in southern Kyrgyzstan. With the economic situation likely to worsen still in 2022, any sharp rise in utility bills or food prices would probably signal a resumption of protests, with the same opponents of the president seeking to instigate these into an uprising against Mr Japarov. We doubt that he would try to weather such a crisis.


Turkey crisis developing

Rumours of President Erdogan’s ill-health and signs of his waning popularity will almost certainly continue to circle well into 2022, and with them rising uncertainty over his leadership. Any prolonged absence of the president from public view is an indicator to watch for brewing instability. Key officials resigning would also suggest disagreements over domestic policy are widening, with hardline nationalists highly likely to fill any empty space in the decision-making circle around Mr Erdogan.


Ukraine conflict escalation

President Zelensky is likely to remain the most unpredictable political actor in the Ukraine conflict next year. His weakening support at home and the boost in polls that escalations in the fighting evidently yields means he may see benefit in intensifying the conflict in Donbas. The use of drones by Ukrainian forces in Donbas and their shooting down are key indicators to watch as precursors to escalating military buildups and renewed fighting. 

President Zelensky pulling out of the Normandy agreement would be a strong signal of his intent to retake the region by force. This high impact scenario would probably see Russia dragged into active combat operations again, both in Donbas and probably the Sea of Azov.

 

Images: Getty Images (Mikhail Svetlov; Vyacheslav Oseledko; Antonio Masiello; Anatolii Stepanov) 

Eurasia

The reluctant
interventionist

Eurasia is likely to experience a relatively quiet year by recent standards. The region appears to be entering a period of steady consolidation, following a series of disruptive crises in 2020 and 2021. In particular, we forecast that Russia will move away from its position as a disruptor.

In turn, friction between Russia and Turkey – the region’s two major powers – is likely to ease. Domestic issues in Turkey and Kyrgyzstan, and a persistent chance of renewed conflict in eastern Ukraine, are three potential spoilers to our forecast of a comparatively quiet year, however.

There are signs that the government of Russia is shifting towards a more cooperative international strategy, particularly in key areas like nuclear proliferation, climate change and counterterrorism. This is due to President Putin being in a stronger and less-threatened position domestically than before, and a strong self-interest in protecting Russia’s economic recovery. Public finances are improving, independent media is no more, and the political challenge posed by Alexei Navalny has gone. The ruling United Russia party has also consolidated power, with a strong win in parliamentary elections last year.

In apparent recognition of the strength of Mr Putin’s position, the Biden administration is likely to deal with the Kremlin on a more equal basis. This is an outcome Mr Putin has long sought. The approach does not mean that Russia is even remotely likely to cease hostile clandestine activity towards the US or Europe in 2022. Hostile cyber activity, funding fringe political parties, vigorous and targeted intelligence gathering, and the occasional murder of Russian dissidents are all true-to-form activities that we can still reasonably expect to see under Mr Putin’s watch. >>

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Uzbekistan

Anniversary of 2005 Andijan massacre

13 May

Ukraine

Anniversary of 2014 Maidan Revolution

February

Ukraine

Victory Day over Nazism

9 February

Russia / Ukraine

Anniversary of the annexation of Crimea from Ukraine by Russia

20 February

Russia

Anniversary of 2015 assassination of
Boris Nemtsov

27 February

Kyrgyzstan

Anniversary of 2005
Tulip Revolution

22 March –11 April 

Eurasia

Annunciation Day

25 March

Moldova

Anniversary of disputed 2009 parliamentary elections 

6 April –12 April

ARMENIA

Anniversary of 2018
Velvet Revolution

April - May

Eurasia

Earth Day

22 April

EURASIA

Start of Ramadan

2 April

Eurasia

End of Ramadan

1 May

Eurasia

Eid Al-Fitr

2 May–3 May

Belarus / Russia

Victory Day

9 May

Turkey

Anniversary of the Gezi
Park protests

31 May

Eurasia

Eid Al-Adha

9 July

Turkey

Anniversary of the 2016 coup attempt

15 July

Russia

Navy Day in
St Petersburg and
in Crimea

31 July

Georgia 

Anniversary of beginning of Russian invasion of Georgia

7 August

Eurasia

Ashura

7 August–8 August

BelaruS

Anniversary of disputed presidential election in 2020

9 August

Uzbekistan

Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit
in Samarkand

15 September–16 September

Kyrgyzstan 

Independence Day 

1 September

Turkey

Republic Day

29 October

Georgia 

Anniversary of disputed parliamentary elections in 2020

31 October

Georgia 

Anniversary of
Rose Revolution 

3 November–23 November

Azerbaijan

Victory Day 

8 November

Armenia / Azerbaijan

Anniversary of 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh War

10 November

Kazakhstan

Independence Day

16 December 

Eurasia

Orthodox Christmas Eve

6 January

The reluctant interventionist

A calm and secure Eurasia relies heavily upon control, suppression, and money. Protecting near-term economic growth seems to be what will shape the will of strongmen in 2022.

02
Eurasia

Nearly every government in Eurasia is on a steady slide into greater authoritarianism, barring Moldova. The largest economies have set their sights on social media companies, seemingly out of fear of what such uncontrolled discussion could lead to for their regimes. Meanwhile smaller states are pursuing tried and tested methods of political interference, regulation and blunt intimidation to suppress civil society, independent media and opposition activism in equal measure.

An authoritarian slide

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We recommend that you view this in a desktop browser. If using a tablet or smartphone, some infographics may only respond to device-specific gestures.

Forecasts

Sources: Dragonfly SIAS, Committee to Protect Journalists, Freedom House, Reporters without Borders, World Bank
Note: All metrics (except for the Democracy rating) use a scale whereby a higher score indicates a worse outcome. A lower Democracy rating indicates a worse outcome.

Key Indicators


Civil conflict in Kyrgyzstan

President Japarov’s attempts to tighten his grip on power next year are likely to meet some resistance from within the state. High-profile arrests of ministers and security officials would suggest opposition to him and wider discontent is growing, particularly in southern Kyrgyzstan. With the economic situation likely to worsen still in 2022, any sharp rise in utility bills or food prices would probably signal a resumption of protests, with the same opponents of the president seeking to instigate these into an uprising against Mr Japarov. We doubt that he would try to weather such a crisis.


Turkey crisis developing

Rumours of President Erdogan’s ill-health and signs of his waning popularity will almost certainly continue to circle well into 2022, and with them rising uncertainty over his leadership. Any prolonged absence of the president from public view is an indicator to watch for brewing instability. Key officials resigning would also suggest disagreements over domestic policy are widening, with hardline nationalists highly likely to fill any empty space in the decision-making circle around Mr Erdogan.


Ukraine conflict escalation

President Zelensky is likely to remain the most unpredictable political actor in the Ukraine conflict next year. His weakening support at home and the boost in polls that escalations in the fighting evidently yields means he may see benefit in intensifying the conflict in Donbas. The use of drones by Ukrainian forces in Donbas and their shooting down are key indicators to watch as precursors to escalating military buildups and renewed fighting. 

President Zelensky pulling out of the Normandy agreement would be a strong signal of his intent to retake the region by force. This high impact scenario would probably see Russia dragged into active combat operations again, both in Donbas and probably the Sea of Azov.

 

Azerbaijan

Victory Day 

8 November

Moldova

Anniversary of disputed 2009 parliamentary elections 

6 April –12 April

Belarus / Russia

Victory Day

9 May

Eurasia

Eid Al-Fitr

2 May–3 May

Eurasia

End of Ramadan

1 May

EURASIA

Start of Ramadan

2 April

Eurasia

Earth Day

22 April

ARMENIA

Anniversary of 2018
Velvet Revolution

April - May

Eurasia

Annunciation Day

25 March

Uzbekistan

Anniversary of 2005 Andijan massacre

13 May

Kyrgyzstan

Anniversary of 2005
Tulip Revolution

22 March –11 April 

Russia

Anniversary of 2015 assassination of
Boris Nemtsov

27 February

Russia / Ukraine

Anniversary of the annexation of Crimea from Ukraine by Russia

20 February

Ukraine

Victory Day over Nazism

9 February

Ukraine

Anniversary of 2014 Maidan Revolution

February

Turkey

Anniversary of the Gezi
Park protests

31 May

Turkey

Republic Day

29 October

Kazakhstan

Independence Day

16 December 

Armenia / Azerbaijan

Anniversary of 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh War

10 November

Georgia 

Anniversary of
Rose Revolution 

3 November–23 November

Georgia 

Anniversary of disputed parliamentary elections in 2020

31 October

Kyrgyzstan 

Independence Day 

1 September

Eurasia

Eid Al-Adha

9 July

Uzbekistan

Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit
in Samarkand

15 September–16 September

BelaruS

Anniversary of disputed presidential election in 2020

9 August

Eurasia

Ashura

7 August–8 August

Georgia 

Anniversary of beginning of Russian invasion of Georgia

7 August

Russia

Navy Day in
St Petersburg and
in Crimea

31 July

Turkey

Anniversary of the 2016 coup attempt

15 July

Eurasia

Orthodox Christmas Eve

6 January

The reluctant
interventionist

Eurasia is likely to experience a relatively quiet year by recent standards. The region appears to be entering a period of steady consolidation, following a series of disruptive crises in 2020 and 2021. In particular, we forecast that Russia will move away from its position as a disruptor.

In turn, friction between Russia and Turkey – the region’s two major powers – is likely to ease. Domestic issues in Turkey and Kyrgyzstan, and a persistent chance of renewed conflict in eastern Ukraine, are three potential spoilers to our forecast of a comparatively quiet year, however.

There are signs that the government of Russia is shifting towards a more cooperative international strategy, particularly in key areas like nuclear proliferation, climate change and counterterrorism. This is due to President Putin being in a stronger and less-threatened position domestically than before, and a strong self-interest in protecting Russia’s economic recovery. Public finances are improving, independent media is no more, and the political challenge posed by Alexei Navalny has gone. The ruling United Russia party has also consolidated power, with a strong win in parliamentary elections last year.

In apparent recognition of the strength of Mr Putin’s position, the Biden administration is likely to deal with the Kremlin on a more equal basis. This is an outcome Mr Putin has long sought. The approach does not mean that Russia is even remotely likely to cease hostile clandestine activity towards the US or Europe in 2022. Hostile cyber activity, funding fringe political parties, vigorous and targeted intelligence gathering, and the occasional murder of Russian dissidents are all true-to-form activities that we can still reasonably expect to see under Mr Putin’s watch. >>

Offline: This content can only be displayed when online.

Images: Getty Images (Mikhail Svetlov; Vyacheslav Oseledko; Antonio Masiello; Anatolii Stepanov) 

Euresia