Factors And Change In Russian Foreign Policy Politics Essay

23 Mar 2015

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This paper is concerned with understanding patterns/factors of change in Russian foreign policy that has evolved since the end of the Cold War and the way in which Russia uses its natural resources as an instrument of foreign policy. It investigates the influence of Russian gas and petroleum on relationships with bordering countries involved in the transit of their natural resources. Moreover, it is argued that Russia uses its gas 'weapon' as the main foreign policy instrument towards transit states. Thus, the Russian switch in foreign policy towards an emphasis on the Commonwealth of Independent States countries will also be analyzed.

a paragraph summarizing my research methods

a paragraph outlining my findings


No portion of the work referred to in the dissertation has been submitted in support of an application for another degree or qualification of this or any other university or other institute of learning.


In the post communist Russia are distinguished two main phases which has significantly contributed towards the development of its foreign policy. During the Yeltsin's presidency, a liberal approach was adopted in creating the foreign policy strategies. It was a time when Russia was considered as a weak and inefficient state supporting the economies of the CIS countries making them remained in its sphere of influence. The second phase started in 2000 along with Putin's election as president. Under his leadership Russia made a switch towards neoclassical realism approach in defining its foreign policy instruments.

Putin's started taking advantage of the 'gas weapon' on strategic CIS countries. Over the last seven years, Moscow has threatened or cut off supplies to countries from the Balkans to the Baltics. This has raised the question whether some commentators are not correct by saying that Europe has left itself vulnerable by relying too much on Russian energy. Gazprom, provides European Union members with more than a quarter of its gas, and 80% of Europe's gas imports from Russia travels through Ukrainian pipelines. This creates a situation in which Russia can uses this dependence as a foreign policy tool to apply pressure against states that would adopt policies counter to Russia's national interest.

The disintegration of the Soviet Union was one of the most important events of the late twentieth century. The status of Russia as a successor to the Soviet Union was

announced in Alma-Ata, in December, 21 1991. The former had a responsibility to establish new relations with the countries making up the latter. In this sense, the establishment of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) was the frame for the future of Russian influence in its former territories.

Putin characterized CIS as "an instrument for a civilized USSR divorce". However, it was a divorce, where the former head of the family wanted to keep its previous influence. Russia willing to become a democratic state had to deal with its own economical and political problems. As a result, Russia lacked the necessary potential to impose efficiently its foreign policy interests in the CIS space.

After 1999, when the prices for energy resources started to increase, and the political elite in Moscow changed, Russia became more powerful and active in CIS countries. At the same time, countries which imported energy resources from Russia became more vulnerable and reliant on Russia. Russia due to increased prices was able to achieve greater revenues and improve its economical situation. In this context, Russia realized that energy weapon could become a very efficient instrument in promoting Russian foreign policy across its borders. Referring to Russian 'energy weapon', it should be mentioned that Russia had used it even before 1999, but after Putin came to power the impact of the gas tool become more efficient and aggressive for CIS countries. In January 2009 The Times wrote that "Gazprom itself is neither good nor bad. It is like a Kalashnikov or a Colt that can be used either to intimidate or in defense. Its moral value depends on the intention of the person whose finger is on the trigger". After Putin came to power, the 'gas weapon' is not underestimated by anyone. Putin started to use gas as an instrument to determine CIS countries to cooperate and not to neglect Russian national interests.

Thus, this paper serves as an attempt to analyse change in Russian behavior in terms of foreign policy that has evolved since the end of the Cold War. Furthermore, the main objective of this research is to investigate the way in which Russia use its natural resources as an instrument of foreign policy in the CIS region.

Moreover, in the following research, as a method of research I will use the comparison of Russian foreign policy during Yeltsin's and Putin's presidencies towards CIS countries. In addition to this, this paper aims to contribute with a comparative study of liberal and realist assumptions which describe the Russian foreign policies during Yeltsin and Putin era, however with a focus on gas (and petroleum) issue.

In order to understand why Russia uses its gas as the most important tool of influence in Ukraine, I intend to look at Russia - Ukraine gas relationship after 1991. I have chosen the Ukrainian case as a reference point since it is the second largest country from the former USSR and where Russia has a vital interest for decades. Moreover, Ukraine was the single country from CIS where Russia used such massively its 'gas weapon' and where already two 'gas wars' occurred during the last four years. Hence, this thesis seeks to understand what threats or assets determined Russia to use gas as its main foreign policy instrument towards Ukraine.

I shall use liberal and realist theories to show the Russian foreign policy directions during Yeltsin's and Putin's presidencies towards the CIS countries and Europe. The first Chapter of this study refers to literature review... The second Chapter of this work refers to.. the theoretical approaches of Russian foreign policy after the end of Cold War, with a focus on the liberal and realist approaches of Russia's foreign policy. Consequently, the third Chapter ...


2.1 Introduction: Gives a quick idea of the topic of the literature review, such as the central theme or organizational pattern

Fossil energies are spread unequally across the globe. Due to the fact, that some countries do not have their own deposits of fossil energies, there are required to import them. By doing so, they become dependent on a particular provider. According to the U.S Energy Information Administration, Russia is the largest natural gas supplier

Body: Contains your discussion of sources and is organized either chronologically, thematically, or methodologically (see below for more information on each).

Understanding the conversion in the orientation of Russian foreign policy from the pro-Western liberalism popular between 1991-92 to a more assertive post-imperialism in the next years provides one of the most fascinating riddle regarding to East-West relation in the post-Cold War era. Was that change a matter of time and return to normality caused by socialization to the system, as neorealist would claim, or was it caused by a mainstream contructivism?

However, there are some real weaknesses in.. First, in arguing that

Another strong theme in work on Russian ...

These changes and the apparent shifts in political authority are then analysed and interpreted variously by different scholars. Some see the emergence of a borderless world (marek,1993). Others see the state

Conclusions/Recommendations: Discuss what you have drawn from reviewing literature so far. Where might the discussion proceed?

Lo, B. (2002) Russian foreign policy in the post-Soviet era: reality, illusion and mythmaking. New York, Palgrave Macmillan.

"In the first comprehensive treatment of its kind, Bobo Lo examines the course of Russian foreign policy in the decade following the Soviet collapse. Adopting a conceptual approach, he identifies the principal ideological and institutional factors that have influenced the thinking of decision-making behind the policies. Bobo Lo challenges many of the conventional assumptions that have dominated much of the preceding literature on Russian foreign policy."

Bazler, H. (2005) The Putin Thesis and Russian Energy Policy. Post-Soviet Affairs, 21(3), pp. 210-225.

 A specialist on Russian politics and society analyzes Russian President Vladimir Putin's academic work on mineral resources in the Russian economy. Mr. Putin defended a kandidat dissertation in economics and subsequently published an article outlining the need for the Russian state to reassert control of the mineral resource sector and foster vertically integrated financial-industrial groups capable of competing with multinationals, particularly in the oil and gas industry. Connections are drawn between the views expressed in Mr. Putin's publications and policy during his second term, particularly the Yukos affair.



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