America’s increasingly active presence in a state historically within Russia’s ball of influence can actually aid solve some of Russia’s most pressing security comes to in Asia.

You are watching: Mongolia is a good example of a buffer state.



A hunter check his eagle before the Altai Eagle Festival at Sagsai town in Mongolia. Photo: Reuters

Since the loss of the Soviet Union, Russia has actively fought against the joined States’ encroachment into the territory and politics the the states of the previous USSR. Indeed, following the 2008 Russian-Georgian War and also the 2010 debates about airbases in Kyrgyzstan, Russia has repeatedly insisted that the previous Soviet space was inside of Moscow’s ball of influence of privileged interests, according to director of Moscow Carnegie facility Dmitri Trenin"s short article published in The Washington Quarterly. There is one instance, however, wherein this sort of loud, vocal defense has actually not yet arisen – Mongolia.

Despite no being an main member of the USSR, Mongolia essentially acted together a de facto Soviet state in many ways – it had actually heavy economic, political and military ties with Moscow, play the role of a buffer state against China after ~ the Sino-Soviet split, and steadfastly stood beside Moscow’s decisions and also actions about international affairs, according to U.S. Researcher Ron Porter"s post published in Ritsumeikan newspaper of Asia Pacific Studies. However, for the past couple of years, the United states has come to be increasingly active in Mongolian politics and also economics when Russia has largely continued to be quiet. And this is even though Mongolia shares a fairly long, though remote, border v Russia and deep historical ties extending ago to the middle Ages.

The concern becomes: Why is Moscow for this reason nonchalant concerning increased U.S. Task and visibility in Mongolia when Mongolia has historically been such a staunch Russian ally and is located at Russia’s weakest geographical point?

Currently, the main tasks of the United states in Mongolia involve economic modernization and also infrastructure development assistance via the U.S. Company for International advancement (USAID), peace Corps, and Millennium an obstacle Compact programs.These programs have helped Mongolia to realize its organization potential, particularly in regard to mining.

This tendency is not new among previous Soviet states and also Moscow has never been too vocal against such economic assistance. ~ all, U.S. Advance assistance is first-class and also the an ext money says have, the less of a security risk they become as they have the right to pay for much better security structures and, perhaps more importantly, carry out for far better economic services to your citizens (that is, assuming the the financial resources come back to the population, rather of being organized by the government).

Russia most likely sees these assistance programs as helpful to all in the they have potential to help secure the an ar without Moscow having to execute too lot work. As an added bonus, U.S. Technological assistance can substantially accelerate energy infrastructure breakthrough that Moscow deserve to use to affix itself more deeply through China, thereby increasing cooperation and also decreasing the potential for conflict.

Of even greater concern for Moscow need to be Mongolia’s boosting military and security ties come the joined States. Because 2003, U.S. And Mongolian forces have participated in the yearly “Khaan Quest” peacekeeping practice program and Ulaanbaatar has also sent troops come Iraq and Afghanistan to act together peacekeepers.

Moscow, though, tho maintains military ties v Mongolia and participates in the annual “Selenge” ar exercises. This participation shows that, even with boosted U.S. Military involvement, Russia has not lost any of the previous volume for cooperation.

Indeed, there seems to it is in a pattern emerging where Washington gives training aid in regards come security and also niche forces, and also the assisted states climate buy tools from Moscow – as has happened in Kazakhstan and other central Asian states – which provides much-needed money because that Russia’s military-industrial complex, which has lost far-reaching investments due to the fact that the finish of the Soviet Union. As lengthy as the U.S. Does not relocate to develop military bases or anti-missile defense solution in Mongolia, Moscow is most likely content v the extra support in the fight against human and also drug trafficking and terrorism along its less-protected borders, amongst myriad other local concerns.

Russian foreign policy has practically always search to create a buffer zone v which to protect its territory – one need look no more than the Russian Empire’s action in main Asia regarding British Pakistan in the 19th Century and also post-World war II Soviet consolidation of east Europe because that examples. Today, Russia is bordered by friendly claims (Kazakhstan, Belarus), unfriendly says (North Korea) and states that reason uncertainty and concern (China). Uncertainly is always an ext dangerous in global relations than outright unfriendly rivals.

Although Mongolia would certainly not act as a complete buffer against China, it absolutely reduces much of the border space and, together Chinese migrate to eastern Russia is increasing, can reduce the uncertainty of illegal border cross by Chinese migrants. In this sense, the U.S. Pivot, and also subsequent “employment” the Mongolia come contain China not just would make sense to Moscow but be invited by the Kremlin – if Washington will carry out the work-related that will certainly ultimately benefit Russia, why must Russia complain? As long as over there are active relations in between Moscow and also Ulaanbaatar, over there is no tangible loss because that Russia, simply a more powerful border state that is increasing its protection capacities and also border security, while proceeding to respond to the huge Chinese existence in the region.

In conclusion, if Moscow is generally quite came to with, and normally a vocal adversary of, U.S. Involvement in the regions instantly surrounding its borders, the Kremlin has stayed rather quiet in the instance of Mongolia. Through enhanced economic help and assistance and military cooperation, the joined States has helped Mongolia to combine its borders and also become a stronger partner in pressing global security issues.

To this end, Russia it s okay a stronger neighbor that shares plenty of security concerns also a buffer versus China through minimal initiative on the component of the Kremlin. Moreover, Russia does no lose any kind of military or diplomatic collaboration capacity. Given the prestige of the region and Russia’s overarching protection concerns regarding human trafficking, drugs, terrorism, illegal immigration, and also as well as a organize of other threats, this is hardly an opportunity the Kremlin deserve to afford to lose.

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Blake Holley expresses a special thanks to Ian Litschko for assist coming up with the topic and also title because that this essay.

The opinion the the author may not necessarily reflect the position of Russia direct or the staff.