Russia and its Neighbors: Integration or Disintegration?

by F. Stephen Larrabee


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Rather than fostering greater integration between Russia and its neighbors, the end of the Cold War and the forces of globalization have had a destabilizing impact. Russian efforts to use the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) to assert its leadership have failed, both politically and economically--especially in the face of a new regional grouping that includes Georgia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, and Moldava. The erosion of Russia's influence is most dramatic in the Caucasus and Caspian region, where both the United States and Turkey have become more active, and in Ukraine, whose policies are becoming increasingly independent of Moscow. Under President Vladimir Putin, however, the prospects for a restoration of Russian influence in Central Asia are much better than those in the Caucasus or Ukraine. The author concludes that U.S. interests can best be served by encouraging the emergence of geopolitical pluralism in the region and promoting Russia's broader integration into a European framework.

Originally published in: The Global Century, Vol. II: Globalization and National Security, Richard L. Kugler and Ellen L. Frost, eds., Washington, D.C.: National Defense University Press, 2001, pp. 859-873.

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