Publication Date

January 2018


The foreign policy of Russia in the near abroad is the continuation of its domestic policy, which includes the consolidation of the population around a leader by means of creating an image of an enemy, especially at times when the economic situation in the country is deteriorating. When interpreting the inner processes in the country, political scientists usually apply the decomposition of the totalitarian Soviet regime as a framework. This paper suggests a broader framework through an analysis of historical structures anchored in Russian civilization. The key to understanding Russia's foreign policy, I argue, is rooted in the imperial syndrome associated with the country’s history, whether one considers the tsarist, Soviet, or post-Soviet periods. At present, Russia’s desire to restore its status as a world power, as in the past, requires it to develop a foreign policy secured by control of its nearest neighbors. For centuries, it purchased their loyalty and fealty with natural resources. When this routine was disrupted, for example with a drop in the market prices of raw materials, another practice developed where, in order to maintain its hegemony, Russia used aggression against its nearest neighbors. This approach is sustained by endorsement from the general public that seems oblivious to conditions of unparalleled income inequality in Russia. For them there is nostalgia for the restoration of a super power status for the country. The chief outcome of the study is Russian policies of self-isolation and hybrid wars against its nearest neighbors, which is a contemporary means used to prolong the life of an imagined empire.

Author Bio(s)

Yuliya Brel is a PhD student at the School of Public Policy and Administration at the University of Delaware. Her primary research interests are the development of civil society and democratization in the Eastern and Central European countries and in the republics of the former Soviet Union. She is also interested in modern dictatorships and the problems of minority languages in Europe. Yuliya holds an M.A. in Germanic languages from Minsk State Linguistic University (Belarus), and an M.A. in Public Policy and Urban Affairs from the University of Delaware.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.