Russia’s international strategy in the 21st century

Автор работы: Пользователь скрыл имя, 04 Марта 2014 в 18:56, доклад

Краткое описание

When speaking about any country in world politics, it is impossible to analyze its international strategy without defining its weight and role on the international arena. And there are all the more reasons to start this analytical paper with defining Russia’s status among other countries and then move on to deriving its international strategy as a logical consequence of its status, how the country sees itself and how other perceive it.

Прикрепленные файлы: 1 файл

Russia’s international strategy in the 21st century.docx

— 78.19 Кб (Скачать документ)













Russia’s international strategy in the 21st century








II World Politics program

(Russian-French division)


Professor Tatiana A. Shakleina



















Moscow, December 2013.


When speaking about any country in world politics, it is impossible to analyze its international strategy without defining its weight and role on the international arena. And there are all the more reasons to start this analytical paper with defining Russia’s status among other countries and then move on to deriving its international strategy as a logical consequence of its status, how the country sees itself and how other perceive it.

There has been a significant debate among Russian and foreign scholars and historians about whether Russia is a great power or a common player in the world politics. To determine the country’s status it is necessary to have a set of parameters, by which the country’s weight and role can be measured. Russia’s identity is highly debatable topic since the country has experienced various social changes, historical shocks and system shifts throughout its evolution. From Tsarist holy empire to Soviet totalitarian system, from a devastated and weak country in 1990s to a reviving sovereign democracy1 and a growing diplomatic force. Everything can be found in Russia’s history: benign and weak regimes, totalitarian and democratic rules, tolerance and bloodshed. Given all this (and this cannot be regarded neither as a blessing nor as a scourge) Russia possesses unique experience and culture, which should be used as guidelines in the future development. To decide the status of Russia it is important to bear in mind four distinguishable factors, which help to measure different variables of the country’s weight: the amount of natural resources possessed, the significance of a territory, military capacity, economy, political system, cultural and educational dimension2.

There is much to say on each parameter regarding Russia. The natural resources are a great asset to the national economy. Russia is one of the very few countries on Earth that is on top of almost every ranking in terms of natural resources (oil, gas, wood, water, solar power, wind power, etc.). The vast diversity and profound storage of both exploited and unexploited resources make Russia what it has always been – a strong and independent power. However, the high level of dependence on the extraction of these very resources create a certain and quite dangerous imbalance for the national economy. With the dominating natural sector it becomes very difficult to restructure economy, fight the corruption, promote social programs and focus on the innovations. Oil and gas are the biggest national monopolies in the country, amounting to more than 50% of Russia’s GDP. Here it is important to switch to the size of Russia’s territory. It is a significant parameter not to forget since it constitutes one of the components of Russia’s status of a great power. Any country can lead a very innovative and investment driven economic policy but is it does not possess a more or less considerable territory then it many be ignored by the other players to some extent. For Russia is obviously not the case for it is described by some historians not as a country but as continent. Yet the great stretch of Russian territory pose a challenge for the national economy in terms of even regional development. The Western part of the country is the concentration of the biggest cities and transport joints, connecting Russia with its partners in Europe. The Far East is the oil and gas cradle with all the main production fields. The region is a very important bridge to Asia. So, as we can see, natural resources and territory is a two-faced Janus for the country.

In terms of military capacities, Russia is still great power although the army and weapons are in dire need of a reform and new programs because they vast majority of them have remains intact since the Soviet times. Russia is the only country capable of competing with the USA in the nuclear weapons and other conventional types. Here the innovation gap has to be stepped over in order for Russia to become a leader in the domain. Russia has a very comprehensive course towards non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and shares the same views on the problem with the USA. This constitutes one of the strongest links of cooperation between the countries.

The national economy is one of the weakest points in Russia’s profile of a great power. Since it is driven by extraction of oil and gas, the economy lacks reforms, investment and innovation. Criticized for the high level of corruption by the Western partners, Russia has to focus on the mechanisms and structure of national economy in order to strengthen its position on the international arena as a stable and credible player. The pressure of competition comes not only from the traditionally industrialized countries of the Western Europe and the USA. China and Brazil are rapidly developing and introducing new technologies. In the recent years Russian national government has embarked upon the process of launching important reforms to boost national industries and this is a very promising tendency, which can show tangible results in the years to come.    

Speaking about political sphere in Russia, there is still great demand, as in the economy, of a profound reform and structural change that will bring transparency of our nascent democracy to a new level. This will also help to eradicate the corrupted bureaucracy that prevents national administration from a better functioning. Structural reforms should also establish a strong and respected by the citizens mechanism of political continuity. The popular disenchantment with national politics resulted in the manifestations and social upheavals in big cities throughout the country in the last 2-3 years.

To finish up with this list, a very important parameter should not be missed – culture and education. Russia is a many centuries long country with rich historical and cultural heritage cherished by its inhabitants and respected all over the world. Notwithstanding the growing necessity to reequip the schools and regional universities (though national government and regional administrations have started to invest more money so that the schools have all the needed facilities), our population retains high level of literacy. Leading Russian universities have joined the Bologna process to facilitate the student and academia exchange worldwide. Students from the Western and Eastern countries, from the USA, from Canada, Asia and CIS come to study in Moscow, St Petersburg, Kazan, Yekaterinburg, etc. Little has to be said to highlight the never fading importance of the Russian literature, theatres, museums, musicians and cinema. To this day they are an irresistible attraction for the admirers.

There are still many more challenges to overcome and tasks to solve for Russia before becoming a fully industrialized and stable country with an affluent and diversified economy. The intricate position that Russia holds between the West and the East constitutes a great part of the debate over the national identity3. However, the analysis of these factors that constitute Russia’s status of a great empire is an indispensible part of understanding how the country sees the world and what strategy it follows when interacting with other players. In order to fully grasp the complex structure of the international strategy pursued by Russia it is more than logical to start with an overview of the official concept of foreign policy. So far, there have been three official documents of this type and each contains a certain differences from the preceding one.

The first foreign policy doctrine was issued in the early 1990s when Russia had just emerged as an independent country without the weight of the Soviet system. Then, it was declared that Russia wanted to join the “civilized countries”4. However, the internal crisis and change of hearts within the administration (Andrei Kozyrev as a minister of foreign affairs viewed Russia’s relation with the West very differently from his successor Yevgenii Primakov, who is a statist and advocates national independency and special way of national development5) did not allow Russia to have a comprehensive international strategy in the early 1990s. President Yeltsin’s doctrine of 1993 did not reflect a strong and straightforward course on the international arena and was no more than a sheer formality.

The change came with the accession to power of Vladimir Putin as a successor of Boris Yeltsin. On the eve of his designation as president he issued an article were he spoke about the need of reforms, the burden of the past on the country and that every effort would count in order to restore Russia’s greatness on the international arena6. This and some other articles laid the foundation of the first official document on the foreign policy – adopted in 2000, this doctrine promoted the principle of mutually beneficent cooperation between all the countries in the ever changing world, the role of international law and the UN as a guarantor of stability and respect in international affairs. Russia did not welcome the unipolar tendencies of the US policies in the world politics, stating that such attitude of any country, even if it were as strong as the USA, could bring misbalance and lead to dangerous conflicts. Only together and collectively countries would be able to solve acute problems of the XXI century declared the document. In this regard the main priority of Russian foreign policy at the time was to actively contribute to the creation of a democratic and just world order where Russia would be an equal and independent player among the others. A lot of attention was paid to the matters of security and economic relations as a foundation to the fair relations among countries. Russia showed itself as strong and vigilant proponent of the non-proliferation and sought the support of other countries. In general this document reflected the main anxieties Russia had at the time as a young democracy marred with the echoes of hard 1990s7. The first two Putin’s mandates turned out to be a relative success in all the spheres of political life. Economy was more or less restored (thought the great dependence on oil and gas was not broken), politically Russia managed to reassert itself as a country not to be trifled with. The relations with many countries were evolving in a positive direction. Even during 2001-2003 the relations with the USA reached its peak, the two countries shared a common view on many things, tried to boost the economic ties and increase the amount of investments. However, this period did not last for long.

Among other examples of Russia’s growing weight on among other countries8 it is necessary to mention Putin’s speech in Munich in 2007, where he dismissed aspirations of some Western countries to dominate on the international arena, impose their view of democracy be means of forceful intervention as rudiments of the Cold war epoch. He also stressed that Russia would pursue an independent course in every aspect it deemed necessary and would not tolerate to be lectured or looked down to9. Though aggressive, this speech marked a break with the tradition of the 1990s, when Russia was regarded as a “patient” and demanded serious treatment.

During that time Russia tried to settle its relations with the immediate neighbors such as Ukraine and Belarus. The corner stone of their relations was the energy matters, notably the great concessions allowed by Russia in terms of gas sales to these countries. Up until 2005 both of them received the valuable resources on half of the established market price. These disagreements coincided with the Orange revolution in Ukraine. After a brief suspension of gas supplies the relations more or less stabilized and both countries started moving (gradually though) towards market prices and in political sphere the atmosphere remained strained but tolerable (at least up until the first years of Victor Yanoukovitch)10. 

The next doctrine came with the change of administration, notably with the election of Dmitri Medvedev as the third president of the country. The rather successful 8 years of Putin’s presidency, the economic stability brought into life resulted in a more ambitious document11. Here Russia was no longer portrayed as a struggling player but rather a confident one. As the following years under president Medvedev this document was marked with the spirit of modernization, network diplomacy, aspirations to innovate the economy and politics. Once again the crucial role of collective engagement of the international community is brought on top of the list alongside with the growing need to develop a common approach to history and common threats, which cannot be solved unilaterally. Multilateral diplomacy, the globalizing economy, the all-embracing role of regionalism in modern political reality and numerous integration groupings pose new challenges and opportunities at once. In terms of economic development the document was very ambitious since the hard reality of financial crisis, which shortly followed Dmitri Medvedev’s arrival to power. A food for thought: when comparing Russia’s political mechanism and economic situation, to some the latter looked brighter than the former back in 200712.

The regional dimension was headed as always by the importance of the CIS in Russian foreign policy. However, the central part of the security aspect was given to the establishment of a common security dimension from Vancouver to Vladivostok. This is a very important specification of the Russian approach to this issue. The endorsement of a close partnership with the NATO countries follows as a logical consequence.

With the USA the main priority was (and still is) to build a solid economic ground for stable and trustful bilateral relations. The most significant hallmarks in the Russia-US relations came in 2009 with the famous “reset” button brought by the American Secretary of state Hillary Clinton to Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov. A lot of hopes were put upon this process. The START III treaty was a very promising beginning for a new stage in the Russian-American relations. Even though it seemed that Russia and the Western countries managed to overcome the echoes of the Georgian war in August 2008, which was perceived as reassertion of Russian area of interest, the “reset” did not bring the desired effect awaited from it. Though the intricate and many-faced relations with the USA deserve to be analyzed at a greater length and as a separate topic for an analytical paper, it should be noted that at that time (and still) there have been many points of disagreement between the two countries. The USA regards Russia as a not full-developed democracy with many remains of the totalitarian past (as an imperfect bureaucracy, oil monopoly, doubtful human rights record, upset political mechanism, etc.).13 In order to develop stable ground for a vast partnership the relations are in great need of solid economic ties, especially in the domain of investments since the logistics make the trade too expensive. Russia also declared that it would be actively engaged in the Asia-Pacific region as a mediator (as well as in the Middle East) of frozen conflicts and as a rightful and eager player in terms of striking economic partnerships.

However, Medvedev’s reforms and ambitions were slightly subdued and did not come into life as he expected them. Coming to the return of Vladimir Putin as Russian president, it is once again necessary to start with a brief overview of his recent foreign policy doctrine issued in February 201314. This document bares considerable changes compared with the preceding ones. While it still stresses the importance of honest and transparent cooperation in the complex multipolar world with numerous threats and dangers, the devastating effects of the financial crisis of 2008-2009 found their reflection in the conception. Medvedev’s modernization was put aside; instead the main focus is placed upon the fight with the imperfectness of the world economic system. The unpredictability of the globalizing economy alongside with the polycentric political mechanism makes the steadiness of contacts almost a dream. The countries have become so interconnected in so many ways that any “oasis of tranquility” is impossible to create.15 One of the major threats that endanger all humanity is the worsening state of environment and the amounting scarcity of energy supplies16. The competition among states will not cease to sharpen and this puts resource abundant countries (such as Russia, the USA, China etc.) in a very delicate position. There is sure a vital need for diversification of traditional resources but also the careful exploration of traditional petrol. 

Russia still puts great emphasis on multilateral development in order to fight the rise of terrorist groupings and prevent them from having nuclear weapons. In terms of conflict settlement Russia put in the center the UN Security Council and reiterates the unacceptable intrusion into internal affairs of any state without the mandate of the UN. Furthermore, Russia strongly believes in the power of international organization that can promote security and stability (e.g. OSCE).

Europe is losing the power and influence it once had (especially after the event of the economic crisis) and this accelerates the process of shifting all the trade and political centers to Asia. This is reflected in the USA policy with the intensification of its presence if the Asia-Pacific region. Russia tries not to fall behind. Russia was the host country of the APEC in 2013. The recent projects are the FTA’s with New Zealand and Vietnam. There has been significant progress in the relations with China in terms of agreement upon prices for gas trade.

Recent events have shown that Russia is gaining ground among fully industrialized economies thanks to its final accession to the WTO. It has opened many doors to Russia and allows having many trade partners not on the basis of bilateral agreements but on fully-fledged MFN (Most favorite nation) regime. Though it has only been a year since the event took place, it is a very big step ahead. Among other instruments of projecting its power are G8 and G20 where Russia is an important player. However, Russia needs to have a cohesive policy of applying the mechanisms of power to rightly influence global processes17.

One of the central (even in the official documents) aspects of Russian foreign policy is the Customs union with Kazakhstan and Belarus (with a perspective of including there Armenia and possibly Ukraine). The project with the EurAsEc integration group has gained a lot of attention due to its rapidity and money invested there. The CIS space has always been the first priority of Russia given the historical background and the close economic relations dating back to the USSR18. Many doubt the effectiveness of the Customs union because the members do not have competitive economies and do not complement each other, as they should in order to deepen the integration. However, here Russia reasserts its status of a great power in terms of cementing it as a core country of a subsystem (here a very accurate term has been applied to give the name to this region – “Small Eurasia”).19 It causes some obscure and wary feeling of both mistrust and resentment among the Western partners, especially the EU members, who emphasize the fact that there would be no possibility to create a common trade space if it were to include more than one grouping. Recent strained relations with Ukraine and its political indecisiveness hinders any relations whatsoever with this ex-Soviet country. Though Russia wants to drag Ukraine into the Customs union, Ukraine has to stop fidgeting between two poles and set the mind on one thing. In general the rapid process of creating its own strong grouping Russia rightly falls within the trend of growing importance of regionalism in modern international relations. Russia also tries to face the growing rivalry in the region coming not only from the West but also from the increasing Chinese presence in the region. Integration allows not only to secure economic ties but also to strengthen the cooperation in the security field.

Another aspect of Russian foreign policy worth mentioning is its role as mediator in the Middle East. Since the beginning of the Israeli-Palestine conflict Russia has taken part in trying to put an end to this ever-going war, showing ups and downs of national diplomacy. Recent events in Syria and Russia’s diplomatic success connected with the ban on the use of chemical weapons have shed a very positive light on our country in among its partners. This has contributed greatly to the reputation of Russia as a peace seeking power20. Russian government links the event of the Arab war with the emerging identity search embracing the troubled countries. Any attempts to impose democracy forcefully on these volatile states are bound to lead to increasing levels of extremism and radicalism among indigenous peoples and this in term amounts to a transregional and global threat to security. Russia calls upon all countries to develop peaceful partnership with all people from different religions and of various ethnic origins. Not only in the Middle East but also in Africa.

Russia has a very diverse and multivector international strategy. It is reflected in all the documents that deal with foreign policy and national security. Russia has always pursued an independent and respected policy on the international arena and is far from a peripheral country that can be ignored. Though it has some miscalculations and obstacles in terms of its internal economic and political development, which hinders a complete creation of necessary set of instruments to implement policies effortlessly, Russia managed to overcome a very difficult period in the modern history and reached a certain level of stability. Recent events have shown that Russia was capable of setting ground for a very ambitious but complicated integration project that will encompass the former Soviet republics. This contributes to her status of a great power. There is a lot to be done in every dimension and on every direction of foreign policy (e.g. create a common strategy for the CIS region that would not only be limited on the EurAsEc project; finish the negotiation process on a New basic agreement with the EU which Russia’s main economic partner, boost relations with the Asian countries, diversify the oil and gas supplies etc.). The successful future of formulating the international strategy to the end fully depends of the internal reforms in economy and domestic politics, on battling corruption, managing a solid mechanism of social policy. Once a fully democratic and law obedient country, Russia will be able to rely not only on the veto right in the UN Security Council and on “hard power” but also on a well-developed and elaborated “soft power”.
































  1. The foreign policy conception of the Russian Federation (2000). Mode of access:
  2. Vladimir Putin. Russia at the turn of millennium. Mode of acces:
  3. Vladimir Putin’s speech in Munich 10.02.2007. Mode of access:
  4. The foreign policy conception of the Russian Federation (2013). Mode of access:
  5. USA National Security Strategy 2010. Mode of access:



  1. Andrei Melville and Tatiana Shakleina. International Relations on the Eve of the 21st Century: Problems and Prospects. Russian Foreign Policy in Transition: Concepts and Realities/ – Budapest, New York: Central European University Press.
  2. Brzezinski, Zbigniew. Strategic Vision. America and the Crisis of Global Power. N.Y.: Basic Books, 2012.
  3. Shakleina,Tatiana. Russian debated on Relations with the United States. 2013. In:  Shakleina,Tatiana. Selected papers (2006-2013). Reader. PDF. Website of the Chair of Applied Research of International Problems.
  4. Shakleina,Tatiana. Russia in the 21st century: still a great power. 2013. In:  Shakleina,Tatiana. Selected papers (2006-2013). Reader. PDF. Website of the Chair of Applied Research of International Problems.
  5. Shakleina,Tatiana. New trends in the subsystem formation in the 21st century. 2013. In: 

Shakleina,Tatiana. Selected papers (2006-2013). Reader. PDF. Website of the Chair of Applied Research of International Problems

  1. Shakleina,Tatiana. East and West in Russian Foreign Policy: Controversial Case of Central Asia. 2013. In:  Shakleina,Tatiana. Selected papers (2006-2013). Reader. PDF. Website of the Chair of Applied Research of International Problems
  2. Russian profile. Mode of access:



Newspapers, online editions

  1. Kuchins Andrew. Alternative Futures for Russia to 2017. A Report of the Russia and Eurasia Program. Center for Strategic and International Studies. Washington, D.C.: CSIS, 2007. Mode of access:
  2. Russia’s Wrong Direction: What the United States Can and Should Do. Report of an Independent Task Force. Council on Foreign Relations, 2006 /
  3. Примериваясь к инструментам глобального управления. РСМД. Mode of access:
  4. Суверенная демократия. О политической философии Владимира Путина – Российская газета, 28.04.2005. Mode of access:
  5. Способна ли Россия быть глобальным лидером? Россия в глоабльной политике. Mode of access:

Информация о работе Russia’s international strategy in the 21st century