The Baltic Defence College’s “Conference on Russia Papers 2022: A Restless Embrace of the Past?” begs a question. How will Russia’s past shape its present and future, both at home and abroad? This volume’s chapters include a wide range of Russian-related topics organized into four main subject groups. The first of these categories is Russian views, with a focus on tendencies toward militarism, Russian understandings of international order, and the effects of COVID-19 on policy. The following subject is about power dynamics and perceptions, with a focus on Russia’s contingent power structures, Russian narratives, and future projections. The third theme centers on the Baltic region’s connection with Russia, investigating Russia’s influence and information warfare from many angles. Finally, the concluding section examines Russian interests around the world, analyzing the position of Belarus', Russia’s options globally, and the potential of a grand vision of Russian foreign policy. The volume concludes by highlighting the challenges of maintaining dialogue in light of recent trends, particularly in the last half decade and especially in the last several months.
Traditionally, the Korean Peninsula has occupied an important place in Russia’s foreign policy strategy, due both to its geographical proximity to Russia’s Far Eastern borders and to its geopolitical role. The circumstances on the Korean Peninsula have a direct influence on the security of Russia’s Far East and North– East Asia (NEA) as a whole, making the Peninsula naturally one of Russia’s foreign policy priorities. Officially and unofficially, Russia has two underlying interests in the Korean Peninsula, as stated repeatedly by Russian officials. Firstly, Russia has no interest in seeing weapons of mass destruction appear anywhere in the world, least of all on its borders. Consequently, Russia has consistently taken the position that international nuclear non-proliferation should be preserved, including preventing the nuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Secondly, Russia is worried about an outbreak of hostilities in Korea. There are reasons for this. Such a war would be a genuine catastrophe near Russia’s borders, replete with radioactive contamination of the area and movement of refugees to the Russian Far East, and it would complicate severely the implementation of Russia’s development strategy for its Far Eastern regions. Consequently, Moscow is, instead, interested in maintaining peace, stability and an atmosphere of cooperation on the Korean Peninsula and in NEA, which would provide an environment conducive to developing Russia’s economy. Russia is interested more than anyone else in maintaining peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula, and resolving the problems of the Peninsula, including the nuclear issue, by exclusively peaceful political and diplomatic means, whilst respecting the sovereignty and interests of all states involved.
The region of Northeast Asia (NEA) occupies a key position in Russian foreign policy—defined in terms of its political, economic, and strategic interests. The post-Soviet period necessitated a complete re-working of its relations with Northeast Asian states, where Russia's overall economic and geopolitical position remains weak. The fact of geography places Russia firmly in Northeast Asia, a region defined by its myriad political, economic, and strategic complexities. The post-World War II period has seen the rise of the United States (US) as a preeminent power in NEA, a position that is steadily being challenged by China in the Twenty-first century. The involvement in the North Korean issue and the broader NEA also gives credence to Russian declaration of itself as a unique Eurasian power that has interests spanning both the continents of Europe and Asia. Russia believes that one of the leading issues that threatens strategic stability in NEA is the ongoing North Korean nuclear crisis.
This article addresses the current confrontation between the United States and China in the context of the history of international relations and civilization expansions. The work demonstrates how most attempts to analyze the essence of this important phenomenon in modern world politics are based on too narrow a view: both from the standpoint of world history and the entire system of modern international relations. The author introduces the concepts of “Westernism” and “Westernist period” in order to describe the modern world. These terms are reminiscent of “Hellenism” and “Hellenistic period”, which the period of the global spread of Western civilizational models. Using world history as an example, the author examines characteristic features of such periods and concludes that the wide geographical spread of the cultural forms of any civilization and the civilizational unity caused by it historically did not lead to complete political unity. As a rule, this spread ended in a period of fragmentation, which in the sense of international relations can be called multipolarity. The author infers that the current Sino-US conflict is neither purely civilizational nor geopolitical, but it demonstrates that civilizationally united westernized world enters a period of political fragmentation. This is how one should understand the process, which in the modern foreign policy language is called the transition from unipolarity to multipolarity.
This article examines the views of St. Nicholas of Japan on church-state relations and the status of the Japanese Orthodox Church. These two issues are inextricably linked as while working on creating and developing the Japanese Orthodox Church, St. Nicholas sought to build its relations with the Japanese state, Russian Orthodox Church and Russian state in agreement with his own understanding of Orthodox ideals. His views, therefore, had a direct impact on his activities as well as the status of the Japanese Orthodox Church. The topic has rarely been addressed in scholarly literature devoted to St. Nicholas’s work. The existing research mostly analyses it from a simplistic perspective arguing that from the very beginning St. Nicholas promoted the idea of creating a church as independent of the Russian Orthodox as possible. According to the authors, this view relies on individual comments taken out of context. The issue itself bears a particular significance for establishing how far indigenisation of Orthodoxy can reach; it is also important to discuss the views of St. Nicholas on this issue. The article concludes that it would be a gross oversimplifi cation to assume that St. Nicholas of Japan was a supporter of the independent Japanese Orthodox Church from his early days in Japan. Instead, he advocated for its closer ties with the Russian Orthodox Church as the latter would be a guarantor of the Japanese Church's commitment to true Orthodoxy. Furthermore, St. Nicholas actively resisted those Japanese who supported the premature independence of their Church. While it is true that for pragmatic reasons he occasionally publicly expressed opinions promoting independence, this only took place during a period of growth of anti-Russian sentiments in Japan and St. Nicholas was only doing so to protect the Church from being attacked by its adversaries
In Moldova: A History, Rebecca Haynes offers a new history of Moldovan statehood, exploring how the identity of the Moldovan nation has developed through its historical relations with neighbouring states and empires over many centuries. Providing detailed explanation of the historical and political development of Moldova, this thorough and accessible work is a useful addition to English-language literature on the topic and will be of particular value to those with no prior knowledge of Moldova’s history, writes Nicole Bodishteanu.
Central Asia is extremely important for the security of Russia, China, and the Eurasian region, both historically and at present. Unconventional security challenges, led by terrorism, extremism, and separatism, which in the official Chinese rhetoric and official documents of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) are designated as the ‘three forces of evil,’ pose a serious challenge to the security of China, Russia, the countries of Central Asia and Eurasia in general. Over the 20 years of the SCO’s history, proceeding from their ‘Shanghai spirit,’ the participating countries have created unique legislative and organizational mechanisms for a joint strike against the ‘three forces of evil,’ as well as mechanisms for bilateral and multilateral antiterrorist exercises. The most important of these is the Peace Mission joint exercise, which has been regularly held since 2005. These mechanisms of cooperation within the SCO embody the spirit of solidarity, mutual trust, and cooperation, reflect the ability of the members of the organization to jointly counter the ‘three forces of evil’ and respond to related problems, and symbolize the SCO’s determination to protect stability in the region and peace in the world. The organization has made a significant contribution to ensuring security in the region. Nevertheless, in the face of existing problems and new challenges such as potential competition and disagreements within the organization, problems with new members after the expansion of the membership, and also the ineffective functioning of some of the SCO’s security instruments, all SCO members need to strengthen their cooperation and open new ways for organizing the SCO to fulfil well its unique role to ensure security in the territory of SCO states and in Eurasia as a whole. The new model of relations – ‘Russian-Chinese relations of comprehensive partnership and strategic interaction entering a new era’ – that underlies the SCO gives the organization greater stability. The SCO is a unique organization on the territory of Eurasia and has both implemented an important innovation in the theory and practice of international relations and opened a new model of regional cooperation. Therefore, it can be stated with a high degree of confidence that multilateral cooperation in the field of security will gradually deepen.
The last few years have seen a radical shift that could change the entire structure of international relations. In general terms, it is the transition from bipolarity to multipolarity. An important aspect of this process is the formation of alternative systems of international governance, especially on the regional level. This allows some scholars to speak about the phenomena of the new, non-Western, regionalism, which tends to alter and compete with the Western and Western-like formats of regional integration and institution-building. Russia and China could be considered as the key drivers of this trend. In the past few years, these two powers have put forward several major initiatives for developing transport and logistics, as well as economic and institutional ties between different parts of the continent, including Russia’s Eurasian Economic Union and China’s Belt and Road Initiative. While some scholars argue that China and Russia have different visions of regionalism and distinct views on how a regional order should be arranged, in the last years these two powers have put a lot of effort into synchronizing their regional projects. In 2015, Russian and Chinese leaders signed a Joint Declaration on cooperation in coordinating the development of the Eurasian Economic Union and the Silk Road Economic Belt, which gave a start to numerous initiatives aiming at strengthening and coordinating regional projects of the two powers.
Russian-Chinese rapprochement is one of the most important modern geopolitical shifts. Recently, it seems that those who argue that closer relations between Moscow and Beijing stem from their converging interests, values, and worldviews have won out over those who claimed theirs is essentially a marriage of convenience—a tactical arrangement for countering attacks by the United States and its allies. According to some forecasts, the mutual understanding between the two countries will deepen in the foreseeable future and they will form, if not a formal then at least a de facto, alliance. Events indicate that, in fact, Russia and China have strengthened their interaction.
The article is devoted to the study of the evolution of relations between Russia and Mexico at the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century. The article discusses the main stages of deve lopment of Russian-Mexican cooperation in the diplomatic, economic, cultural and political spheres. The author concludes that even having a number of common ground on key international issues, Mexico and Russia have so far failed to form an optimal and productive model of their bilateral relations. Present study has scientific and practical significance, given the fact that by applying of empirical methods of cognition recommendations for the further development of bilateral cooperation have been formulated.
This special report offers a comprehensive view of the issues involved in the debate around the purchase of the S-400, and the threat of CAATSA sanctions. The report examines the rationale behind India’s choice of the S-400 and outlines the legacy of India-Russia defence ties while acknowledging the challenges posed by CAATSA to this bilateral engagement. It underscores the ever-present spectre of CAATSA sanctions against India, owing to the continued utility of the legislation in US President Joe Biden’s foreign policy.
An introduction to the special issue on Russian foreign policy prepared by a team based at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow. We begin with an overview of some of the contesting views about the dynamics and drivers of Russian foreign policy and some of the key theories. We then present the substantive arguments of the contributors, assessing how they fit into the overall pattern of understanding the key issues in Russian foreign policy and larger global concerns. The Introductions ends with some broader considerations, noting the tension between ‘declinist’ and ‘revivalist’ approaches to Russia today, and suggest that the contributions on the whole steer a cautious path between extreme representations of these two perspectives, while warning of the dangers of triumphalism. We argue that Russian and Russian-based views can make a specific and important contribution to larger debates about the dynamics of Russian foreign policy and Russia’s contribution to the resolution of some of the pressing issues facing humanity.
This Special Issue is a project of the `International Laboratory on International Order Studies and the New Regionalism’ of the Higher School of Economics. It examines four key issues. First, at the most abstract level, the collection looks at the profound shift in economic and political power from the West to the East. The definition of both terms—East and West—will be contextualized, but it is clear that we need profound study of political spatiality to provide deeper framing of the epochal move of the center of economic gravity to the East, and with it shifts in global power and the very terms in which power, influence, and status are assessed. The “West” as a political concept was devised during the Cold War, but it is now being disaggregated; while the “East” is taking on new political forms and becoming more assertive in expression. The new East is not necessarily commensurate with the West in political and order-making terms, and thus a new East-West rivalry has emerged, accompanied by continuing North-South contradictions. The ability of the ideology of globalization to smooth over these antinomies is weakening.
Nepal, the world's second most water-rich country, nevertheless struggles to provide sufficient domestic electricity. Despite Nepal's potential to become the hydropower source for South Asia, it still relies heavily on importing electricity from India. This paper investigates why Nepal's hydropower capacity is inadequately utilized from both domestic and international perspectives and finds that domestic factors such as geo-climate features, weak infrastructure, political instability, and institutional deficiencies significantly hinder Nepal's hydropower development. From an international perspective, Nepal's geopolitical bonds and energy dependency with India and the regional power-sharing configuration have significantly influenced its hydropower policy-making. Furthermore, this paper proposes how Nepal could sustainably develop its hydropower for self-sufficiency by establishing better policy instruments, attracting foreign investments, and upgrading its electricity infrastructure.
Russia—the state with the longest Arctic coastline—is embarking on an ambitious plan to benefit from the vast natural resources of the region, while undertaking a military modernisation effort that had been stalled after the end of the Cold War. As one of the strongest players in the high north, Russia will be key in determining the future of the region, which is facing challenges brought about by global warming. This paper examines Russia’s aims and plans for the Arctic. It analyses opposing hypotheses on crucial issues and finds that while Russia wants to maintain the status quo, there are elements of both cooperation and contention in its current Arctic policy.
The end of the Cold War in 1991 presented Russia and the European Union (EU) with an opportunity to reorganise their bilateral relationship. For more than a decade, they did manage to nurture close ties. Beginning in the mid-2000s, however, the relationship steadily declined, reaching its lowest in 2014 in the aftermath of the Ukrainian crisis. As mutual grievances have accumulated since then, there has been an absence of a forward-looking agenda, with diametrically opposite frames of reference of the prevailing situation making it difficult to achieve any breakthrough. This brief examines the causes of the ongoing crisis, its implications, and the possible way ahead for Russia-EU relations.
Russia resurrected seeks to accomplish two major tasks: build a ‘multidimensional understanding of Russian power’ to ensure an improved assessment of its capabilities; and examine how the ‘domestic political regime’ influences the use of this power (p. 4). In overall terms, the exposition of the former is delivered much more convincingly than the latter.
Questioning western assumptions about Russia being a declining power or a regional power, Kathryn Stoner demonstrates through detailed case-studies how both the geographical reach and the means of Russian power have expanded in the twenty-first century. She provides a nuanced explanation of how Russia's influence varies in different...
This article examines the state and prospects of Russia’s policy toward China. We look at recent trends in the evolution of the world order, the history of Moscow-Beijing relations, and the changes in the balance of power between Russia and China to offer a forecast of Russia’s China policy in the near term. Special attention is paid to the role of the 2001 Treaty of Good-Neighborliness, Friendship, and Cooperation. The authors conclude that, despite the Treaty’s significance, the international situation – and indeed the relative strengths of the two countries – have significantly changed over the past 20 years. The new conditions will inevitably compel Russia to adjust its policy toward China. Moscow, as always, will seek to develop its political and economic partnership with Beijing. However, it will likely move toward hedging against risks that excessive dependence on China could bring about.