Authored by Air University Maxwell Air Force Base
Russian foreign policy during 2001 – 2002 has taken on an entirely new approach. President Vladimir Putin and his Foreign Minister, Igor Ivanov have expanded the scope of Russian external relations both in terms of numbers of nations and the depth of the relationships. The preceding administration of Boris Yeltsin had alienated many both internally and externally and there was much to do to rebuild the damage done.
The events of 11 September vaulted the Russians into a position of prominence that Putin and Ivanov could not imagine. A fast and firm show of support by Putin and the promise to assist in any way Russia could has meant that Moscow is at the center of the war against terrorism, both as a regional hegemon and as a partner with the US.
In the Middle East and Asia, the Russians have made every effort to make it clear that they are on the side of the “little guy”. They have forged close military and diplomatic relationships with Iraq, Iran, India, and even China (though more slowly and cautiously). In addition, they have worked hard to stand behind the Palestinian Authority and effectively enhanced their position in the settlement negotiations. They have done so well vis- -vis the solution that they have been included in the so-called “Quartet of Mediators” including the US, the UN, and the EU.
In Europe, the Russians have successfully increased both their access and status in NATO. Both NATO Secretary General George Robertson and UK Prime Minister Tony Blair have pushed hard for an increased Russian role, up to and including a limited vote for Russia on NATO policy issues. At the same time, Russia has made significant inroads with the European Union and the World Trade Organization. Russian leaders including Putin have made numerous trips to European capitals in an effort to build diplomatic bridges that could be useful later.
In Central and South America, Moscow has successfully rekindled relationships in the Western Hemisphere. Putin has made personal visits followed up with effective military and diplomatic ties with Brazil and Argentina as well as becoming more visible throughout the region. The Russians have even been allowed to compete their highest technology weaponry against the US when bidding for purchase.
Russian relations with the US have been clearly improved. The relationship had languished under Boris Yeltsin, but has made significant strides under Vladimir Putin. Both Presidents Bush and Putin have made a personal and professional connection. The US Secretary of State, Colin Powell has brought Russia deeply into the negotiations in the Middle East and both US leaders have endorsed the Russian handling of the situation in Chechnya. However, there is still some Cold War feeling remaining and competition for influence still echoes in the relationship between Moscow and Washington.
The future remains uncertain for Russian foreign policy. But one thing is clear; it will not be without the pragmatic efforts of Vladimir Putin. He will make every effort to steer Russia that brings every advantage. US policy-makers should never underestimate the cleverness of the Russian leader nor his ability to exploit any situation. Finally, Russian foreign policy efforts are expanding not contracting. US leaders should be wary yet positive in that step, but never compromise American interests to gain Russian support. However tempting that might be.
Jun 20 2014
1500255564 / 9781500255565
US Trade Paper
8.5″ x 11″
Black and White
Political Science / International Relations / Diplomacy