Slawomir Debski, director of the Polish Institute of International Affairs, writing in the International Herald Tribune:
Russia no longer disguises the fact that it wants to recover its sphere of influence. The paradox is that Russia can only achieve this through the use of force, as the model of development it proposes is unattractive to east European societies. And the more Russia resorts to force, the less the chances that it will achieve its sphere of influence.
It is a pity that the meeting last month between Russian President Dmitri Medvedev and Western political scientists did not get greater notice. Medvedev not only declared Russia’s desire to have its own sphere of influence, but he also defined the term.
“Our neighbors are close to us in many respects, and are a traditional area of interest for the Russian nation,” he said. “We are so close to each other, it would be impossible to tear us apart, to say Russia has to embark on one path, and our neighbors on another.”
Such words are telling – they indicate that Russia claims the right to co-determine the foreign policy of the former Soviet republics and the direction of their internal development.