When one country controls most of another country's affairs while still allowing it some autonomy, the dominant country is called a suzerain.

In modern world affairs, suzerains are unusual, but history includes a number of them. For example, the Ottoman Empire was the suzerain in its relationships with Moldova, the principality of Serbia, and Wallachia, and for years China was a suzerain to Mongolia.

Definitions of suzerain
  1. noun
    a state exercising a degree of dominion over a dependent state especially in its foreign affairs
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    type of:
    body politic, commonwealth, country, land, nation, res publica, state
    a politically organized body of people under a single government
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