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"Economization" of Foreign Policy

 

Since Gorbachev the Kremlin has routinely declared that foreign policy should assist in promoting national prosperity and the well-being of citizens. But for much of the post-Soviet period era it showed little disposition to transform a rhetorical allegiance to such ideas into a genuine “economization” of Russian attitudes toward the world. Russia anyway confronted major obstacles to integration in the world economy and suffered economic decline for much of the 1990s. 

Photo: kremlin.ru

Putin’s emphasis on economic priorities has emerged as one of the most distinctive features of his management of foreign policy and reflects a profound transformation in post-Soviet society during a decade in which Russia has moved toward a market economy. Putin has been concerned not only to implement an ambitious domestic reform agenda but also to achieve Russia’s “integration” into the global economic community (such as through accession to the World Trade Organization), to generate profit for individual industries and for the state, and to project Russian influence abroad, particularly in CIS states, by economic means.

However, the closer focus on economic priorities and the resultant economization of foreign policy have by no means eclipsed Russia’s security and geopolitical agenda. On the contrary, security-related issues have acquired an even greater salience for Moscow following the emergence of international terrorism as a major global threat and the continued challenge of managing the campaign in Chechnya. In the post-11 September climate the Putin administration has used a commitment to a common struggle against terrorism as the principal means of accelerating Russia’s political and security integration with the West. 

Meanwhile, however, the Putin administration’s attitudes toward security and geopolitics continue to bear the imprint of previous thinking from the Soviet period and the 1990s. Traditional geopolitical ideas and priorities remain, although they have been recast to reflect a cooperative rather than competitive vision of international security.

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