On December 20, the Valdai Club hosted a presentation of a new report, titled “Space Without Borders: Russia and Its Neighbours”. The report was prepared especially for the 30th anniversary of the collapse of the USSR.
December 25, 2021, marks 30 years since the Soviet Union ceased to exit. The result of this event was the emergence of modern Russia and fourteen independent states along its perimeter. The creation of the Russian Federation did not affect the country's place in the global balance of power. The collapse of the USSR in 1991 presented the Russian state with the need to overcome historical inertia. “The fact that Russia has managed to resist the temptation to restore the imperial order for 30 years is an achievement in breaking away from the old path and an indicator of the state’s maturation,” the report says.
The author of the report, Timofei Bordachev, Programme Director of the Valdai Discussion Club, focuses on issues related to how Russia’s foreign policy towards its neighbours has changed, especially in recent years, as well as how it is perceived in these states. During the work on the report, in March-September 2021 the author visited several countries of the former USSR to talk personally with local intellectuals, politicians and public figures. Among them were Askar Aitmatov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kyrgyzstan (2002-2005); Vazgen Manukyan, Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia (1990-1991), Minister of Defense of the Republic of Armenia (1992-1993); Sadyk Safoev, First Deputy Chairman of the Senate of the Oliy Majlis of Uzbekistan, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Uzbekistan (2003-2005); Yerlan Karin, Assistant to the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan; and Khudoberdi Kholiknazar, Director of the Centre for the Study of Central Asia and China in Tajikistan, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Tajikistan (1992). The content of the conversations, as well as the interpretation of the assessments and opinions expressed in the framework of almost fifty interviews, were used in the preparation of the report.
According to the author, three decades after gaining independence, Russia's neighbours are just beginning to consider themselves sovereign states which bear a responsibility for their own destiny. The scale of ties with Russia is so great that for all of them, the position of Russia always remains decisive in the implementation of their own development strategies. The foreign policy behaviour of sovereign states from Estonia in the west to Kyrgyzstan in the east remains part of the Russian security palette and its interaction with other major powers. Russia and its neighbours remain one and the same in a broader international context. Today, Moscow is faced with the task of developing a form of interaction with its neighbours that will ensure the security of Russia, as well as a stable peace on its borders.
Is there a clear general order today in the vastness of the former USSR? How do the neighbouring countries of Russia see their place? What is required for a successful long-term policy of Russia towards its neighbours? The participants of the presentation answered these and other questions.
Andrey Rudenko, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation
Timofey Bordachev, Programme Director of the Valdai Discussion Club
Ivan Safranchuk, Director, Leading Researcher at the Center for Eurasian Studies, IMI, MGIMO, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia
Fyodor Lukyanov, Research Director of the Valdai Discussion Club.