Update on Global Affairs: How is Russia attempting to manage its relations with its wider neighborhood?

Every week, ISN Zurich, takes on a different topic/question. This week is about Russia and its ‘wider neighbourhood’, with a dossier from ISN Zurich available [1] , and articles on:

Russia’s contrasting relationship with its near (former-Soviet states, bordering countries) and far (other states) abroad is a common theme in Russian foreign policy. As is the relationship between East and West, dating right back to the Tsars; the two-headed eagle (a symbol of Russia) is often said to symbolise this feeling. ISN says:

If Russia’s relations with its ‘near abroad’ have created a set of distinct policies, then what about its ‘wider neighborhood’? Well, it appears that Moscow is now more interested in 1) deepening its ties with Central Asia rather than Europe, and 2) restoring its influence in the Middle East to Soviet-era levels. Since the latter goal will probably fail, perhaps Russia might have more success if it tries to boost its influence closer to home, particularly in the South Caucasus and the Arctic region.

Other articles on this theme from the past week (will update if I have time):

Also this week :

Upcoming events :

The [numbers] are as much for my benefit as yours!

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1 Comment

  1. Some of the things mentioned in the links seem to presume far greater resilience in the current Russian state than I think might be deserved. It has been (correctly) pointed out by many researchers for many years that even weak states can endure for a long time because the state has so many resources and tools to employ, but what really binds any part of Russia to the state?

    Putin hasn’t really shown an ability to tie the Russian people to a political party (he recently even created a new one, something not commonly associated with someone in a strong position*) and instead of gaining power on a strongly socially conservative platform he’s now looking to the right wing to shore up his position.
    Far from tightening control, I would say that recent arrests of elites and government bureaucrats simply spread fear. If loyalty is not enough and you are fully aware that other colleagues have been openly corrupt and not suffered (one hardly has to look far to see recent examples of corruption in Russia in spite of empty gestures)** then why should you be loyal to your state? What does the state provide or protect you from?

    I don’t think I’ll go as far as some democracy advocates and predict an imminent revolution, but by the 2020s will there still be a Putin regime? Without a clear political agenda beyond “Russia good, West bad, Putin should be in power”, corruption at pretty much every level and the threat that Russia’s best source of revenue (gas and oil) might not be enough to pay the bills*** should we really risk making any assumptions about Russian politics more than a year or two out at the most?

    * http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/5f8943f4-d37c-11e2-95d4-00144feab7de.html
    ** http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-07-09/putin-officials-judges-seen-topping-russia-corruption-in-survey.html
    *** http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/09/18/russia-budget-idUSL5N0HE0PW20130918


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