“Three decades of Russian policy in the European part of the post-Soviet space: Swimming against the current”, Arkady Moshes and Ryhor Nizhnikau (FIIA, Finland)

The successful pursuit of Russia’s great-power status and its recognition by the West imply the preservation of pre-eminent positions, above all in the European part of the post-Soviet space. Since Vladimir Putin’s rise to power, the Kremlin has been making a consistent effort to reverse the earlier trend towards the weakening of Russia’s regional stance. One of the implications of this policy was the shift of the Russian-Western competition in the “common neighbourhood” towards an open stand-off after Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014. Russian regional policy has run counter to structural changes that could not be counter-balanced through activism, whether enticing or coercive. As a result, 30 years since the dissolution of the USSR, Russia’s regional influence as well as its attraction as a societal role model and a security provider are continuing to erode. Russia has regional clout, which is nonetheless hardly growing over time. More and more often, Moscow is encountering difficulties in achieving its goals. While post-Soviet states resist Russia’s assertiveness, non-Western players pose new challenges to its posture.

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