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Working Papers & Publications

Relations Between the Soviet Union and Its Eastern European Allies

Use Adobe Acrobat Reader version 10 or higher for the best experience. A comprehensive survey of Soviet East-European relations since , analyzing Soviet goals in Eastern Europe, the successes and failures of Soviet policy in pursuing those goals, and future prospects. Policies toward the East European countries differed considerably in the Khrushchev and Brezhnev eras.

In seeking a balance between cohesion and viability, Khrushchev instituted reforms in economic structure, planning, and policy that led to increased nationalism and a serious threat to Soviet absolutism.

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The Brezhnev leadership since has tilted the balance back sharply in favor of cohesion and the restoration of Soviet control. Indeed, it is of fundamental importance that Moscow avoid shooting itself in the foot by fueling European fears of Russia. EU enlargement, for its part, poses a challenge to but does not threaten Russia.

Japan , a U. As such, it has joined the West in imposing sanctions on Russia since yet has continued to push for the resolution of the Kuril Islands dispute and sought to prevent a Sino-Russian axis. Russia and India have had a nearly trouble-free partnership for seventy years. Today, India is rapidly increasing its economic weight, building up its military strength, and becoming more active in international affairs. Russia should strive to deepen its already privileged relationship with India in every way possible and pursue cooperation in cutting-edge fields, where India has made great progress.

A functioning RIC would give Russia the opportunity to soften the rivalry between its two most important Asian partners and strengthen its own position as an experienced and benevolent mediator.

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The RIC, having become the core of the SCO, can act as a leader in stabilizing the region and preventing and resolving its armed conflicts, such as the war in Afghanistan. For economic and geopolitical reasons, New Delhi will continue to deepen relations with Washington—ties that are no cause for panic in Moscow, which should focus on developing its own foreign relationships, not undermining those of the United States. The countries of Northeast and Southeast Asia , especially the highly developed South Korea, interest Russia primarily as economic partners.

On the Korean Peninsula, Russia seeks increased contacts and especially economic cooperation between Seoul and Pyongyang, anticipating that a thaw will create economic opportunities for Russia. This, of course, does not preclude Russia from interacting and cooperating with all relevant parties, including Japan, as it should do, with an eye to preventing war from breaking out in the immediate vicinity of the Russian Far East. Indeed, its main goal should be to avoid being drawn into such a war and remain unbiased whatever the issue of contention in East or Southeast Asia. Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan cooperate with Russia in countering terrorism and extremism through the CSTO, whereas Uzbekistan works with Russia in these areas bilaterally.

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Russia has a vital interest in the stability of the countries of Central Asia—especially Kazakhstan, which, thanks to its location, size, and EEU and CSTO membership, deserves to be treated by Moscow as its main regional partner in these organizations. The South Caucasus, like Central Asia, interests Russia primarily from the point of view of security.

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Still, Russia cannot leave unresolved the protracted armed conflicts between Armenia and Azerbaijan, Georgia and Abkhazia, and Georgia and South Ossetia. In the first case, Russia has long managed to maintain relations with both belligerents; with the help of other world powers, it has prevented the fighting from resuming and escalating. In the case of Georgia, with which Russia went to war in , Moscow has openly sided with the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

However, Moscow cannot neglect its relations with Tbilisi, and it should take steps to improve them, such as by offering visa liberalization or, even better, visa-free travel ; jointly ensuring stability on the border; and promoting dialogue between Georgians, Abkhazians, and Ossetians.

Stable relations between the three belligerents would open the door to a joint search for a mutually acceptable solution on territorial and border disagreements. It makes sense for Russia to maintain close working relations and, in some areas, enter into partnerships with them. However, since their strategic interests differ dramatically, Russia should expect nothing more than situational alliances with Tehran and Ankara, even as it does its best to keep them at peace with one another.

Turkey, an SCO observer state as well as a U. Russia is right to consider Iran a major Middle Eastern power and a potentially important economic partner. Russia should do what it can to bring about the normalization of relations between Iran and its Gulf Arab neighbors and the formation of a security system in the Gulf region. In the event of military conflict between Iran and its foes—chief among them the United States, Israel, and Saudi Arabia—Russia should remain neutral and seek a quick end to the war.

However, it must be kept in mind that the Arab world has in recent years been the source of instability and terrorist and extremist threats, the kind against which Russia has acted by militarily intervening in Syria. The Arctic , in the context of global warming, is for the first time becoming another geopolitical facade for Russia. Despite the fact that most of them are NATO member states, Russia must minimize its militarization of the Arctic and leverage regional cooperation as a platform for improving its broader relations with said countries.

In the Arctic, as in the Far East and Siberia, the more international partners Russia attracts, the better positioned it will be—in this case, on its northern and eastern flanks. The contours outlined above are geographically confined to the perimeter of the Eurasian macro-continent. They almost entirely leave out the Americas, as well as Africa and Oceania. The main purpose of the present paper has been to emphasize the need for a broad strategic design in Russian foreign policy making, which in practice often resembles a decidedly tactical and operational art.

Today, foreign policy—not just in Russia but throughout the world—is designed by narrow circles of decisionmakers.

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  5. In both cases, integration failed due to the rejection by Russia of U. The Collective Security Treaty Organization and the Customs Union of Russia, Kazakhstan, and Belarus were established for this purpose, with the latter institution eventually transformed into the Eurasian Economic Union Given the U.

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    This helped open the door to Soviet expansion into the world market, bolstering relations with not only former Soviet bloc nations, but also Western powers such as the United States and the United Kingdom. President George H. Bush signed trade agreements designed to make it easier for U.

    In , for the first time, Russia participated in economic discussions at the G7 summit in Denver, Colorado.

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    The following year, Russia was integrated as a full member, and the G7 became the G8. By the early s, Russian President Vladimir Putin was working to create a free-trade zone in Russia, and the country eventually joined the World Trade Organization in When the Soviet government fell, the Russian mafia, which had struggled to survive during the height of communism, stepped in to fill the power void. Government infrastructure—ranging from basic public utilities to police services—mostly evaporated during the collapse. Mafia oligarchs seized state-owned assets and enterprises throughout Russia, such as telecommunications and energy networks and industries, and the mafia extorted the public in exchange for providing security and enforcing laws wherever the Russian government was unable to.

    Though the current Russian administration has had some success combating organized crime, the Russian mafia is still extremely powerful and well-connected. However, in an autocratic society such as that of Russia, anyone who speaks in opposition to government corruption will be arrested, exiled or even murdered under mysterious circumstances. The fall of the Soviet empire also had far-reaching effects on the world as a whole, particularly among its former Soviet satellite nations.

    For some countries, such as Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan, oil and natural gas exports have created prosperity but have also enabled corruption. Countries such as Lithuania and Latvia underwent dramatic transformations by quickly turning to the West, adopting Western ideals and political leanings, while other countries, such as Armenia and Tajikistan, have struggled to flourish in the post-Soviet era and many citizens remain poverty-stricken while the states and their politics remain in flux. In the quarter-century since the Soviet Union collapsed, U.

    While the United States under President Bill Clinton provided assistance to Russia, policymakers at home feared Russia could re-emerge as an enemy if nationalists were allowed to regain power. A recent study by the U. This allowed the U. Norwich University is an important part of American history.