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Russian Foreign Policy Towards The Post Soviet Sphere Politics Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Politics
Wordcount: 2819 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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The relations with Russia and the fragmented post-Soviet space have been rather popular topic for some years now. But after the cyber crises, April anxiety and the attack to South Ossetia, the topic has gathered even more increasing attention. The Russian foreign policy therefore has been changed a lot and has undergone different strategies.

Nowadays Russian foreign policy creation probably reminds to lot of people like building the road to the heaven. The process consists of continuous alternating compromises as well as provoking actions or signs towards the West. Sometimes the decisions of Russian foreign policy are even against its own national interest and therefore from time to time it could raise a question if Russia has even stepped out from its baby-shoes or not.

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During the Russian Empire times the Russian foreign policy symbolized the Orthodox Christian world and the centre of gravity for pan-Slavic movements. It was greatly based on the imperialist world order that was trying to find quick development in economic and social means. The main objective was to increase Russian living standards so it could compete with other more developed countries. But after the collapse of Soviet Union, what was according to Putin the biggest catastrophe during the 20th century, the Russian foreign policy has changed. It became more pragmatic and looked after the realization of sophisticated world. This was also visible from the Russian relations with other countries, as Russia started to communicate more closely with the more refined world. The characteristics of the different relations with different countries varied a lot- at one time Russia was acting like a full-partner while on the other times Russia took only minor roles or even opposition in cooperating.

The changing Russian foreign policy was established on different aspects. The main objective was to formulate Russian national interests, so the foreign policy could correspond to the ones that are especially necessary and which ones are applying to the other countries on the world political field. Another objective was to tempt other countries to the agreements on subjects where its interests are not the same as Russia has.

The reactions to the Russian foreign policy changes have not been easy to adapt neither for Russia nor to the post-soviet countries. The ending of the Cold War was unexpected to the both sides and the idea to totally change the ideologies of the countries’ policies after that, has not yet been accomplished by neither of the sides. The changes of Russian foreign policy are influenced by different features. The main influencer is probably the situation on the oil market, as Russia is one of the biggest oil providers in the region. This also affects the trade of other goods. For example after the collapse on Soviet Union the Baltic States were still a part of post-Soviet geopolitical and economic development. The party that is ruling the political decisions in Russia has also a big role to play in the influence process of Russian foreign policy. The clear difference was visible with Boriss Jeltsin and Vladimir Putin, whose tactics were different. The third aspect that influences the Russian foreign policy rather highly is the current Russian relations with Eurasia and Caucasus as well as with Central Asia and the situations on those countries. But to a country like Russia probably the biggest foreign policy driver is the embrace of the power and its sphere of influence- either it is local or more like global. The presentation of the change from rather Russia-centered and regional power emerged during the Putin administration. At that time Russia raised to being one of the global energy power suppliers and demanded the local currency recognition equal to the US dollar.

Russian foreign policy and market economy

The importance of the economics and businesses in Russian foreign policy today is considerably high. It has also been seen as a source of the state power. With the Putin presidency major changes on Russian business market were made. During the Putin administration the big oligarchs were destroyed. Putin deputized its authorities to sit on the boards of key companies so he could have a control over the businesses. He also continued to support the integration of Russia to the world economy.

While during the Soviet Union times Russia was the biggest supplier on its markets, but now after the collapse of Soviet Union the markets where Russia is the biggest player are decreasing and the foreign trade is taking over. This can be considered as one of the biggest threats to Russian economy. Also as we had financial crises in the world, the unemployment rate in Russia rose significally.

Russian foreign policy today

When to follow the Russian foreign policy, it can actually be said that it is rather continuous and has hidden aggressiveness. The current Russia has a tendency to demonstrate new conceptual documents in foreign policy as well as in security policy. These are always welcomed with high level of attention because according to these documents the world is trying to predict the coming Russian policy [1] . If to be very careful and to observe closely, it can be seen that actually the changes of Russian foreign policy has built up on tactical regrouping. The biggest change between the previous and current Russian foreign policy concept is that now the foreign policy goals has to be in balance with Russian economic, intellectual and technological possibilities.

Regardless to the world image of Russia according to its recent actions, Russia still seems to think of itself as the super-power. In different ways and by different actions Russia still threats the post-soviet countries and in a way Russia still treats them as a part of its colony. But there is a difference between the former soviet countries. For example the threat to Estonia is unlike and smaller than to Georgia, as Estonia is a member of the European Union. Therefore the actions or procedures how Russia can endanger Estonia is different because of the western powers, but in case of Georgia, as it was seen, there is not such a strong backup. For Russians the fact that Estonia joined the western block was a big disappointment and according to the surveys, it became apparent that Estonia is the second country that the Russians trust the less. The Russian foreign policy that we know today is a product of former superpower, which desperately tries to hold on to its power. Some historians even say that, now when different countries are allies, the war will begin sooner or later.

The orange revolution in Ukraine during the 2004, reminded greatly the situation in Estonia after the singing revolution. After the orange revolution Ukraine seemed to be able to see the freedom, as it happened in Estonia in 1987-1988. Then in year 2007 Vladimir Putin wrote a letter to Ukraine president Viktor Juštšenko with what Putin clearly and directly intervened to Ukraine domestic problems and policy. But the actual aim of this letter was basically to control Ukraine, as Putin saw that things are getting out of his hands. This can be considered as a clear sign of Russian wish to take over the control and basically to reunite the former Soviet Union countries in order to form a Russian Empire again. It seemed that the tactic was to take over the control at first from the inside of the country by trying to attract the people, who can be manipulated to support Russia and its ideas and plans. If that has been accomplished then it is easy to take over the country time by time.

In year 2008 Russian president Medvedev claimed that Russian foreign policy is neither liberal nor conservative but it is driven from Russian national interests. He also said that the freedom, democracy and the protection of human rights matters a lot to Russia and in its foreign international relations. These are also the aspects that are protected the most [2] . Few months after that Russia took military actions against Georgia. The Russian- Georgian war was a clear sign to the West and to the rest of the world that Russia has had enough of its post-Soviet foreign policy and that some things have to be changed. Also it gave a warning to the world that Russia is not that pushed down as it may have seemed and is actually capable to amend enormous damage.

The new face that Russia is showing now by demanding pragmatic relations with the west, internal country liberalization and the high turn of economical high technology is only the change of the layer, not the inside. Also if the Russia we know today does not liberalize the market economy, it may bring with it, that European Union has to use the sanctions. Meaning that basically in the end, both of the sides will lose tremendously. When in year 2009 Russia changed the foreign policy in a way so it will be more pragmatic, balanced and that it is not based on the opposition. During the same year Dmitri Medvedev said that, it is about the time when Russia should stop being so ignorant and egoistic. By this saying the world got rather surprised, as before Russia has wanted to play leading roles on different fields. Russia even wanted that its currency would be equal to dollar, meaning that it would be recognized all over the world. This thought was led by the oil prices and the fact that Russia is a considerably big supplier of the oil in the world. But this behavior that Russia admits that they should back down a little does not happen that often. Usually it is driven from the current situation on the world oil market and of how strong is Russian power at the time.

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The American analyzing centre Stratfor [3] predicts in it analyses that in coming year the Russian activities in its neighborhood will most probably increase. According to that it has been predicted that Russia will start to fight back the former Soviet Union countries and that Estonia is the country that interests Russia the most. The reason for that is argued to be easy- Estonian politics are easy to manipulate with. In addition to Estonia the other Baltic States countries Latvia and Lithuaina are probably facing the same. Such an increased attention and interest to Russia has been ever since the Baltic States joined the European Union and NATO.

But the Baltic States are not the only countries to whom Russia will concentrate on year 2010. According to the forecasts the year 2010 Russia strives to weaken the influence of the West from Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Armenia. The goal of this is the recreation of the political union on the territory of the former Soviet Union. The analysts are predicting that the influence of Russia will be more successful in Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan. When talking about Ukraine, this prediction can be derived from the fact that the new Ukraine president Viktor Juštšenko has a pro-Russia thinking. But interesting fact with this is the promise that Juśtśenko gave- to unite the badly managed Ukraine with big economic potential with the West- and Centre- Europe. This of course is causing troubles with Russia, as Ukraine will then leave the traditional influence-sphere.

Now in year 2010 basically all the former post-soviet countries are on a risk, meaning that all the countries are afraid that Russia will attack sooner or later. Especially after the launch of Stratfors’ report as with previous forecasts 90% of Stratfor reports have been right. Other facts that are backing up the Russia potential interest towards post-soviet countries and West, is the fact that during the autumn 2009 Russia was practicing the attack to Poland, that ended with penetration to Poland with 900 tanks. The same actions were made to Latvia. It is hard to say for sure if it was only a practice against a terror attack or was it a real exercising of the infiltration.

Russia today

After the launch of the analyses of Russian Foreign policy and its impact to the former Soviet Union countries by American forecast agency Stratfor, many of the post-soviet countries have started to worry and fear Russia even more than before. According to the Stratfor analyses Russia is trying to form its influence sphere from its neighboring countries. With a big possibility the first countries will be Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan. It has been predicted that most probably those countries will not show that much resistance, then all the other post-soviet countries will be forced to either accept the conditions that are suitable to Moscow or to search independently the help from the foreign countries, such as USA. Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan will probably choose the first opportunity whereas Georgia and Baltics will look for the other ways. The probability that Georgia will fail to do so is rather high, as actually it was also seen in August 2008. The probability of Baltic States search for help to succeed is little higher. In case Russia should try to capture Baltic States, the chance that Russia will ruin its relations with Europe and United States is rather possible. On the other hand if Russia is going to act as predicted and target Ukraine and Georgia first, then the Baltic States could win approximately 3 years to figure out how to protect themselves. At the same time it is very important to be updated of the actions and information what is happening in Latvia as by now it is one of the weakest countries in the Baltics. The situation in Latvia is rather bad and the economy needs to be stabilized. But exactly by that reason Latvia is very sensitive to the external influences and therefore it could turn to a really good playground to the Russia.

The current situation in Ukraine is still unclear as the presidentary elections are coming. That also raises the question if Ukraine has already been sold to Russia or not. It is still unclear who will win the elections and who will be appointed to be the new president. At the same time all the candidates are in a way pro-Russia, meaning that the new president of Ukraine may start to cooperate with Russia in a long-run, as Ukraine is known as a rather corrupted country and then the predicted Russian control over Ukraine will still be established. The elections still will not decide on the Ukraine final destiny, but the fact that on the current elections all the candidates are pro-Russia may send a clear signal to Russia. Once Russia recaptures Ukraine, all the other post-Soviet states will probably face the same intentions. Besides the elections and controlling the Ukraine foreign policy, Russia has one more plan with Ukraine- Russia is strongly against the Ukraine alliance with NATO and European Union. In a way Estonia is in the same situation as Ukraine, but the fact that the crossing-point of world interests is south and near-east due to the oil and heavy fuel, it leaves the Baltic Sates on the background. The near-east and the territories next to the Black Sea are with high importance to Russia.


After the recent incidents that Russia has had with different countries over the past few years, the overall image of Russia has changed a lot. In addition to that the Russian foreign policy has made through major changes after the breakdown of Soviet Union. The biggest change has been that the role of Orthodox Church that used to play a big role in the Russian foreign policy has lost its importance. Another change was the Russian- Georgian war with what Russia sent a clear sign to the world that they are tired of their current foreign policy, but they also showed how they feel about the NATO enlargement. With that step lot of the other post-Soviet countries started to fear for their independence.

Besides all kind of different changes one of the mentionable is also the fact that Russia started to use its role as one of the important energy providers as a political weapon. Russia understood that they can use the energy export to improve the country’s economical and political position in the world.

When looking from the post-Soviet countries viewpoint and considering the recent Stratfor analyses that predicted the high Russian attention to its neighboring states has created rather anxious feelings in post-Soviet countries. If the predictions are going to come true, it is going to cause huge changes in Russian foreign policy.


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