Constructing a Post-Soviet International Political Reality : Russian Foreign Policy Towards the Newly Independent States 1990-95
Abstract: The liberal ideas of New Political Thinking, introduced as the governing paradigm of Soviet foreign policy by Mikhail Gorbachev in the late 1980's, were to a substantial extent "adopted" and applied by the new leadership of post-Soviet Russia, not only in its dealings with the Western world, but also when formulating a foreign policy towards the 14 Newly Independent States. However, by mid-1992, a mere six months after the Soviet collapse, there were clear indications that a dramatic change in Russian foreign policy towards its next-door neighbours had come about. A Realist vision of world politics had replaced Liberalism and Russia declared the entire post-Soviet territory to be its sphere of vital interests.Using Graham T. Allison's Governmental Politics Model and Walter Carlsnaes' Model for explaining foreign policy change, this dissertation analyses the process by which the Russian leadership, in the wake of the Soviet collapse, constructed a language of foreign policy for dealing with the international politics of the post-Soviet sphere. In order to account for the conditions, under which this process took place, Allison's model is complemented by the Copenhagen School's theory of securitisation.The dissertation concludes that Russian President Boris Yeltsin's and Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev's initial unwillingness and inability to grasp the full extent of the Soviet break-up led to their adopting certain discursive elements, which served to soften the trauma of the new setting, rather than coming to terms with it. Consequently, the Russian leadership was ill equipped to handle the catalogue of complex problems emerging in the post-Soviet sphere. The presence of a discursive arena of a certain type, (defining Russia as a particular sort of actor in world politics), combined with the emergence of local, next-door problems, implied that securitising actors such as Sergei Stankevich and Evgenii Ambartsumov, were given the opportunity to stage "security speech acts", which helped them "set the agenda" and wield power and influence in the bargaining games over the formulation a Russian language of foreign policy.
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