Topics: Russia, Soviet Union, Cold War Pages: 20 (7572 words) Published: February 24, 2014

Adnan Ali Shah *

The demise of the Soviet Union in December 1991 witnessed a tectonic shift in world affairs. The transition from a bi-polar world to uni-polar one, the emergence of the United States as the triumphant, sole super power, at the end of fifty years of the Cold War, has necessitated a shift in the priorities and goals of the nation states. The renunciation of the Soviet communist ideology, coupled with the unraveling of the Soviet Union into Russia, and the reemergence of former states as well as the emergence of the capitalistic market economy within the socialistic mindset of these societies, all served to shift the global focus from geo-politics to geo-economics. In this changed global scenario, the dominant factors in relations between the states are adherence to common principles, like promoting democracy, human rights and peace, the search for resolving of regional conflicts, as well as for conventional arms control and nuclear non proliferation, trade liberalization and market economy, rather than the pursuit of the specified strategic and ideological goals, as camp followers of two rival Super Powers. Russia, the successor of the Soviet Union, is caught between a nostalgic past and an uncertain future. Russia’s international status has significantly degraded, as this former super power is currently viewed by many as a little more than a ‘Third World regional power’, even though it still possesses a significant though an antiquated nuclear arsenal.1 The break up of the Soviet Union saw the Russian borders roll back to from where they had been in the Caucasus in the early 1800s, in Central Asia in the mid-1800, and in West Europe to that existed around approximately 1600.2 This degraded status has generated enormous soul searching in Russia about its current identity and where it stands today in the global scenario. Generally speaking, Russia’s foreign policy makers have three broad, and partially overlapping, geo-strategic options, related to the country’s national interests and its status vis-ˆ-vis America. These alternatives emerged in the period following the Soviet Union’s collapse, namely: 1. Priority laid on establishing a ‘mature strategic partnership’ with America. 2. Emphasis on the ‘near abroad’ as Russia’s central concern, with some advocating a Moscow-dominated economic integration, thus restoring, though partially, the image of its former imperial control. Moreover, Russia’s regional role as a power would be strengthened, thereby serving as a balance vis-ˆ-vis America and Europe. 3. Consideration of an Eurasian counter alliance, designed to reduce the preponderance of the US unchallenged global influence.3 It is generally agreed that in the post-Soviet Russia, there are divergent opinions on foreign policy making among the Foreign Ministry, the academic community and the parliamentary circles. In the initial period around 1992-1995, the Westerners or the ‘Atlanticists’ led by Andrei Kozyrev, the first Foreign Minister of the Post Soviet Russia, and his foreign policy establishment were in clear ascendance. Thus in this period, Asia in general, and South Asia specifically, was accorded a low priority in Moscow’s restructuring. In January 1993, the Russian Foreign Ministry published the ‘Concept of Russian Federation’s Foreign Policy’, in which South Asia was accorded seventh place in its list of ten priorities.4 The emphasis was on a ‘Look West’ policy, emphasising close relations with the West European countries, where too, the significant events, such as the re-unification of Germany and the break up of Yugoslavia took place. However, the ‘Look West’ policy of the Russia, with an emphasis on forging a ‘Strategic Partnership’ with the US-led West on an equality basis, remains severely challenged. Moreover, its ‘near abroad’ policy of exercising influence on the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), which previously were part of the...
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