The former Soviet republics in the Caucasus -- Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan -- have very different attitudes toward Russia's resurgence. Armenia depends on Russia for its security and is one of Moscow's most loyal allies.
With the planned US and NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2014 looming ever closer, Russia is pressing to solidify strategic relationships with Central Asian states, especially with Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.
Like many of his generation, Aleksandr Gorbachev steered clear of politics for most of his adult life.
He moved to Moscow in the autumn of 2001, graduated from the prestigious Russian State University for the Humanities, and ultimately landed himself a good job as a deputy editor at "Afisha," a popular lifestyle magazine and web portal.
Following a diplomatic faux pas that enraged Russia, the knives seem to be out for Tajikistan’s long-time president, Imomali Rahmon. Various media outlets in Dushanbe have carried harsh commentaries concerning Rahmon’s administration in recent days, presenting an unusual and serious challenge to top authorities in Dushanbe.
Ancient Persia was a heavily trafficked corridor on the Silk Road, the transcontinental trade route between China and the West that flourished centuries ago. But in Washington’s imagining of a 21st century version of the Silk Road, Iran seems set to be bypassed.
Russian authorities have launched a round-up of Tajik labor migrants with the apparent intent of deporting them. The move is widely seen as retribution for the sentencing of two ethnic Russian pilots in Tajikistan to lengthy prison terms on tenuous smuggling charges.
The de facto authorities in the breakaway Georgian republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia have expressed concern and outrage over the implications of the Swiss-mediated compromise between Georgia and Russia that paves the way for Russia's accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO).