Russian Strategic Geographical Location: Influence on Foreign Policy
Separation of the former Soviet Union states from Russia was politically and economically costly for the integrated USSR. Disintegration of the Soviet Union led to the decline of living standards in all the states with more confrontations and conflicts between Russia and the Former Soviet Union (FSU) states. The FSU consist of Slavic states (Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova), Baltic states (Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia), Central Asia (Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan) and the Caucasus (Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan).
The major task after the collapse was to develop strategies for retaining stability and supporting economic, political, and military willingness to cooperate among them. Russia is committed to protecting the Russians in the independent state while, on the other hand, against the action by the various states to joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and also the European Union.
Russians’ main objective through their foreign policy is to achieve security, welfare, autonomy, and identity. The regional interests are to ensure security, reduce terrorism and conflicts, especially with the Caucasus. Russia is looking forward to the welfare of its people and the surrounding in terms of improved social and economic standards. Nevertheless, autonomy is also a major factor. It assures increased ability to influence international community and global decision-making. The country hopes for improving the bridge of weserns and Statist norms. The geographical proximity of Russia to the FSU states enables the country to maintain its influence and explore the need to protect interests of Russians in the Former Soviet Union states. However, the FSU seeks to have an independent course from Russia, as well as healthy relations. The major dilemma faced by the FSU is the influence from the west and maintaining links with Russia.
All along Russia has been described as a petro-state – a term commonly used to describe countries whose economies are controlled by oil. Considered the second largest oil producer in the world, Russians have used their oil resource to control their relationship with other world’s powerful nations, and entrench their international policies among their neighbors. While the United States’ traditional definition of power is based on military, economy and democracy, Russia’s ability to lure other friendly country on own side has made the United States uncomfortable in years when the latter has significantly faced serious economic challenge.
Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) is a regional union that was formed by the Former Soviet Union member states. Though formed with the intention of giving the FSU members a fresh look and power structure, the association has evolved overtime and is purely a loose union that cannot be compared to other strong ones like the European Union. It was initially formed by three countries: Belarus, Russia and Ukraine. After Alma-Ata Protocol was signned, some other states of FSU joined to it. The reason why these countries united together is the belief that other regional federations were becoming stronger, hence can surpass them in terms of regional and international powers.
The foreign policy recognizes the use of international law to solve all conflicts with its neighbors. To preserve the balance of power and enhance the stability and security in East and Southeast Asia, Russia looks forward to create the constructive relationships with the United States of America. Hence, the foreign policy has achieved its economic development.
The economy of Russia was affected by the collapse of the USSR greatly and its position; proximity to China, and the Asia from which most of the strategies are borrowed to ensure economic growth and political stability. The major concern in Russian foreign policy is energy security (oil). Russia has recognized the major importation of oil by the fast growing East Asia. The region’s rapid development has increased dependence on crude oil. Taking into consideration, Russia is the second largest oil exporter after Saudi Arabia and has the largest gas reserve. The proximity to its main market (East Asia) is of great advantage to Russians since they can create energy security. Therefore, Russia would be able to create and maintain regional integration whereas supporting economic growth in East Asia. Foreign policy puts into consideration the project by Russia to build a railway through to the European Union.