More on Changing Russia’s Foreign Policy

by Nathan Hamm on 8/24/2005

MosNews has a few articles related to the one I posted about yesterday. Of them, this one is the one that is significantly more than a reformulation of yesterday’s column. In it Stanislav Belkovsky of Moscow’s Institute of National Strategy argues that Russia has “lost” some former Soviet republics to the west. By itself, that’s not a particularly novel argument. But the way he makes it is somewhat novel for Russians.

“The countries that emerged by accident out of the rubble of the Soviet Union have evolved into full-fledged nations with their own new elites,” Belkovsky said. He added that the revolutions in countries such as Ukraine and Georgia happened because the Kremlin had “slept through” this nation-building process and not because the United States had conducted some underhand campaign

As I mentioned yesterday, it would be truly magical if Russia’s foreign policy elite quit thinking that it can do no wrong and that it is only by the nefarious, underhanded behavior of Americans depriving them of what is rightly theirs. A little bit more introspection would be nice. Of course it wouldn’t necessarily mean more US-Russia cooperation, but it would make it a little easier to relate.

Moving on though…

The other stories today say that Russia has decided to stop subsidizing energy for states in the near abroad. Because Russia has used energy as a blunt political instrument to prop up or twist the arms of its neighbors, this will be of not just enormous economic import (Ukraine is getting hammered and Georgia will suffer too) but will also have strong political reverberations.

Like Andy, I hope that this is a sign that Russia’s foreign policy elites have realized that their way of investing in stability in the past has created quite a bit of instability and that Russia might do better–by saving money and creating goodwill–by going with the political flow in the former Soviet Union.

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Nathan is the founder and Principal Analyst for Registan, which he launched in 2003. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan 2000-2001 and received his MA in Central Asian Studies from the University of Washington in 2007. Since 2007, he has worked full-time as an analyst, consulting with private and government clients on Central Asian affairs, specializing in how socio-cultural and political factors shape risks and opportunities and how organizations can adjust their strategic and operational plans to account for these variables. More information on Registan's services can be found here, and Nathan can be contacted via Twitter or email.

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