Jan 1, 1995
This study is an examination and assessment of critical trends in the evolution of Russian thinking on foreign and national security policy in recent years. The consensus of the Gorbachev and Yeltsin eras that promised rapprochement with the West has been replaced by a new consensus that is pushing Russia toward a more aloof position vis-a-vis the Western alliance as leaders grapple with problems along Russia's immediate periphery and seek to rebuild Russia's sphere of influence. A key issue is the contradiction between U.S. recognition of the newly independent states around Russia's periphery and Russia's special role of oversight throughout the former Soviet Union and pursuit of national interests that might impinge on its neighbor's sovereignty. U.S. policymakers face the task of balancing the newly independent states' right to sovereignty against the need to restore order in a given region and the desire to sustain continuity in U.S.-Russian relations. Although there are no easy solutions, the Western community can play a constructive role while remaining on the periphery.