- Shamil Zhumatov/Reuters
Since Russia’s illegal seizure and annexation of Crimea from Ukraine on March 18, 2014, six countries have come out in support of Moscow.
And in any other circumstance, the support Russia has received would be enough to make politicians blush.
The following map from the spokesman for the US Embassy in Russia shows the six nations, in addition to Russia, that have supported the Crimean annexation.
Those countries are Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Syria, Afghanistan, and North Korea. Each nation is generally considered a rogue or a teetering state with deep historical roots connecting it to Russia and the former Soviet Union.
Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela have maintained close military and economic ties to Moscow.
— Will Stevens (@WBStevens) May 28, 2016
Gen. John Kelly, former head of the US Southern Command, said on March 12, 2015:
Russia is using power projection in an attempt to erode U.S. leadership and challenge U.S. influence in the Western Hemisphere … Russia has courted Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua to gain access to air bases and ports for resupply of Russian naval assets and strategic bombers operating in the Western Hemisphere.
Syria, meanwhile, has been in a state of civil war since 2011. The regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad has stayed in power in large part because of arms transfers and joint military operations with Russia.
Russia, likewise, has played a role in shielding North Korea from the international community. Earlier in May, Moscow blocked a statement from the UN Security Council against North Korea over its missile tests. The relationship between Moscow and Pyongyang is likely to continue to grow as Russia seeks to challenge US policy abroad and as China increasingly grows frustrated with the rogue nation.
Afghanistan’s support of the annexation is the most surprising. Only a generation ago, the Soviet Union was brutally occupying Afghanistan, and the US military and NATO are still present in the country now. But Afghanistan announced its support of the Crimean annexation in 2014 under then President Hamid Karzai.
Karzai, toward the end of his presidency, increasingly sought to distance Afghanistan from the West. His support of the Crimean annexation was likely an attempt to differentiate Kabul from Washington.