Book

Russian Foreign Policy and the CIS: Theories, Debates and Actions

Authors:
  • Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada

Abstract

This book investigates the options, the debates and the ensuing foreign and military policies of Russian government. It examines the evolution of policy from the collapse of the Soviet Union in December 1991 until the Presidential elections in June 1996. Analysing Russia's actions in the context of contemporary foreign policy theory, Nicole J. Jackson discusses and compares three key conflicts: the separatist war between Moldova and Transdniestria; the separatist war between Georgia and Abkhazia and the civil war in Tajikistan.
... 6 The Georgian side claimed that the nationalist activists had strong ties with the KGB and the separatists were mobilized by Kremlin to maintain Russian influence over Georgia. 7 The disintegration of USSR in 1991 created an immense power vacuum in the region which made conflict unavoidable in an already tense state of relations. Initially, the repeal of the Abkhazian Supreme Soviet acts by the Georgian State Council and the referendum in Abkhazia in favor of independence provoked the conflict. ...
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The road to the Georgian-Abkhazian war in 1992-1993 was paved by constantly increasing mutual mistrust, outright rejection of the possible differentiated interests and categorical belief in absolute gain. These structural and perceptional problems continued to undermine the peace negotiations as well. What exactly went wrong in the peace process that thwarted a negotiated settlement for the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict? Are there lessons to learn from the Georgian-Abkhaz peace process for conflict resolution models? This paper asserts that the postwar negotiation period was built on very shaky pillars since the psychological and structural barriers were too strong to overcome. Initially, the perceived absence of the zone of possible agreement as well as the irreconcilability of the reservation values made the high level bilateral negotiations void. The Schlaining Process too as a new model of negotiation to provide bridges between the constituencies and to create an environment of confidence for the political leaders proved insufficient. It is thus argued that difficulties in curtailing psychological and strategic barriers coupled with structural issues and the cognitive misers in both sides have made an inherently uneasy case for both sides even more problematic to resolve.
Book
This book explores how far messianism, the conviction that Russia has a special historical destiny, is present in, and affects, Russian foreign policy. Based on extensive original research, including analysis of public statements, policy documents and opinion polls, the book argues that a sense of mission is present in Russian foreign policy, that it is very similar in its nature to thinking about Russia’s mission in Tsarist times, that the sense of mission matters more for Russia’s elites than for Russia’s masses, and that Russia’s special mission is emphasised more when there are questions about the regime’s legitimacy as well as great power status. Overall, the book demonstrates that a sense of mission is an important factor in Russian foreign policy.
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Russia’s policies and strategies towards BRICS represent a combination of ideational and material motives. On the one hand, the BRICS grouping is important for Moscow in terms of enhancing its status in international relations. On the other hand, the Kremlin values its economic and strategic partnership with the BRICS countries, since they are important for Russia’s well-being and sustainable development as well as its efforts for counter-balancing the West in the global geoeconomic and geopolitical game. Russia’s active participation in BRICS indicates that Moscow prefers to redesign its foreign policy in a way to support and further develop international norms, rules and institutions as well as non-coercive and soft power methods. The BRICS framework provides Moscow not only with additional authority in the world community but also with legitimacy to Russia’s international activities.
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This article fundamentally re-examines Russia's foreign policy towards the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, trying to explain the sources of its behavior. In particular, it assesses its foreign policy in the light of its strategic interests, material capabilities versus incapacity and identity. A central question is why Russia does not give enough support to a settlement based upon modus vivendi. It argues that whereas Russia does not have the capacity to achieve a final solution to the conflict, it has ample resources to obtain a solution that would release the occupied regions outside Nagorno-Karabakh and leave the status of the territory unresolved for an indefinite future. The article sheds light on the factors undergirding its policy towards the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, arguing for the utility of a different perspective on its commitments. It adds new insights to the existing body of literature on Russia's policies towards Nagorno-Karabakh conflict such as incapacity and identity with implications for a better understanding of broader Russian foreign policy. Moreover, with South Ossetia and Crimea in the spotlight, Russian foreign policy towards the conflict has been viewed through geopolitics and neo-imperialism, but remains little understood.
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The regional wars in the Caucasus were frozen by the Russia’s initiatives in the early 1990s. Yet, given the developments in the last twenty years and the widespread dissatisfaction among the region’s people, one can argue that a just, equal, and stable peace has never been established in the region. Power transition theory puts forward a substantial perspective to analyze the regional peace in the Caucasus. The theory defines an international hierarchical order that can be symbolized as a power pyramid; peace is guaranteed when the dominant power preserves its preponderance against possible challengers dissatisfied with the status quo. The multiple hierarchy model applies this argument to regional subsystems, and defines regional hierarchies that function similarly to the international one, though they are open to external interventions. This article analyzes the status quo, peace and war in the South Caucasus from a power transition perspective. Three periods are defined: The establishment of the status quo (1991-1994), external involvement and regional competition period (1994-2008) and the aftermath of the Georgia war. Lastly future prospects will be discussed regarding Azerbaijan’s growing power against Armenia and the likelihood of renewed conflicts based on dissatisfaction with the status quo.
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