A Closer Look at Russia and its Influence in the World

Constantinos Filis (Editor)
General Director, Institute of International Relations, Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences,  Athens, Greece

Series: Russian Political, Economic, and Security Issues
BISAC: POL058000

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Special issue: Resilience in breaking the cycle of children’s environmental health disparities
Edited by I Leslie Rubin, Robert J Geller, Abby Mutic, Benjamin A Gitterman, Nathan Mutic, Wayne Garfinkel, Claire D Coles, Kurt Martinuzzi, and Joav Merrick

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In 1939, Churchill described Russia as “a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma,” distilling what an uncomprehending West feels as the ‘otherness’ of an eccentric power. Many Westerners have but a shallow understanding of Russia. They project onto it characteristics that are not necessarily consistent with reality, or they see only part of the picture, adopting unexamined, stereotypical views. As a result, we often assess Russia on the basis of Western standards, over- or underestimating it and failing to fully understand the trends and dynamics that supervene within the country to influence its foreign policy.

President Putin may not have definitively altered the face of his country, but he did regain for it a standing and prestige disproportionate to its actual capabilities, reviving national pride. There are opportunities as well as risks for Moscow in the post-Western world of multiple uncertainties. Putin the pragmatist, while not in a position to proffer an alluring alternative to Western ideology, exploits every opportunity to call into question the foundations of the existing system, which was shaped in the wake of the Second World War and further consolidated after the dissolution of the USSR, and serves first and foremost the interests of the U.S. and its European allies.

Russia is seen by many in the West as a revisionist power, but it carefully chooses when, where and how it acts to further its revisionist agenda. It is manifestly more assertive in its near abroad – the post-Soviet space – but is becoming more confident in medium-abroad regions like the Middle East, where it is filling the gap left by Washington’s reluctance to intervene. Moscow has even begun to leave its mark on the African region. Today’s Russia seems more comfortable communicating with authoritarian regimes worldwide and capitalises on many Westerners’ disappointment in and outrage at the policies of the Western establishment.

Likewise, populists and extremists (e.g., Le Pen in France, Salvini in Italy, Orban in Hungary) have reached an understanding with Moscow, but we can’t tell (despite the obvious indications) to what extent they coordinate their actions with the Kremlin. At the same time, Russia’s economy, while not in straits as dire as some would have us believe, is not in a position to support Moscow’s ambitions and certainly needs to be decentralised and become less dependent on exports of raw materials, investing in innovation and new technologies, with a focus that goes beyond the defense sector.

In the current volume, we try to shed light on many factors that will define Russia’s fate and its relations with the world. Twenty-six authors from diverse backgrounds and nine countries provide insightful answers to the following questions: What is the identity of Putin’s Russia? How does the country’s economy influence its international position? What are the main vectors of its foreign policy, and to what extent is this policy shaped by an underlying ideology? What soft-power, hard-power and hybrid tools does it employ, and what role does energy play? How are its relations with key global and regional players (the U.S., the EU, Germany, China, Egypt) shaped? And how and why is it asserting itself on the regional level: in the post-Soviet space, the Middle East and the Southeast Europe?

Preface

Chapter 1. Russia’s Identity in the Putin Era
(Eugene Chausovsky, Senior Eurasia Analyst, Stratfor, Austin, TX, US)

Chapter 2. International Economic Sanctions against Russia: Adaptive Strategy, Global Dynamics and Geopolitical Objectives
(Michael V. Zharikov, Financial University under the Government of the Russian Federation; Institute of Europe of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia)

Chapter 3. Structures of Rivalry and Lessons of History
(Alexey Gromyko, Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Director of the Institute of Europe - RAS)

Chapter 4. Breaking Old Norms, Inventing New Rules: Russia’s Revisionist Agenda and the Evolution of the International Society
(Alexey Bogdanov, American Studies Department, Saint Petersburg State University, Russia)

Chapter 5. Russia's Foreign Policy Debate
(Antonis P. Skotiniotis, PhD, Department of International and European Studies
University of Piraeus, Piraeus, Greece)

Chapter 6. Russian Orthodox Church: From Russification Agent to Soft Power Instrument
(Alexandros Massavetas, Author and Journalist)

Chapter 7. How Participation in the Paris Agreement Will Affect Russia’s Position as a Global Player
(Andrey Osakovsky, Independent Researcher)

Chapter 8. From Subjects to Good Neighbors: The Evolution of Attitudes of the Russian Ruling Circles to the Former National Provinces
(Alexander Pavlenko, A.P. Chekhov Institute of Taganrog, Rostov State University of Economics, Taganrog, Russia)

Chapter 9. The Current State of Culture in Russia as Reflected in the Art, Museum, Exhibition Sphere
(Marina Biryukova, PhD, Department of Museum Work and Protection of Monuments, Saint Petersburg State University, Saint-Petersburg, Russia)

Chapter 10. The Rise of a Strategic Spoiler: Russia’s European Security Strategy
(Vassilis (Bill) Kappis, University of Buckingham, Buckingham, England)

Chapter 11. Russian Information Operations: A Pillar of State Power
(Andrew N. Liaropoulos, Department of International and European Studies, University of Piraeus, Piraeus, Greece)

Chapter 12. A Closer Look at the Russian Petroleum Industry
(Nikita O. Kapustin and Dmitry A. Grushevenko, The Department of Research of Energy Complex of Russia and the World, The Energy Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia)

Chapter 13. The Evolution (Or Devolution) of EU-Russia Energy Relations: A New Paradigm Following Crimea?
(Natasha A. Georgiou, PhD Candidate, School of Law, University of Reading, Reading, UK, and others)

Chapter 14. US-Russian Relations since 2011: An Escalating Confrontation
(Professor Harry Papasotiriou, PhD, International and European Studies Department, Panteion University, Athens, Greece)

Chapter 15. Russia and the EU: From "Strategic Partner" to "Strategic Problem"
(Marilena Koppa, Associate Professor of Comparative Politics, Panteion University of Athens, Athens, Greece)

Chapter 16. From Romance to Disillusionment: The Russian Federation and Germany – Partners in Growing Reciprocal Misunderstanding
(Gert Weisskirchen, Member of German Parliament, Heidelberg, Germany)

Chapter 17. China: An Important Partner of Russia in Influencing the World
(Zhang Tingting and Guan Zhaoyu, Assistant Researcher of Chongyang Finance Research Institute, Renmin University of China, China, and others)

Chapter 18. The Pharaoh and the TSAR: Egyptian-Russian Relations in a New Global Context
Mohamed Kamal, Alaa ElHadidi and Mohamed Anis Salem, Professor of International Relations, Faculty of Economics and Political Sciences, Cairo University, Cairo, Egypt, and others)

Chapter 19. Russia’s Foreign Policy in the 21st Century: Vision from Georgia
(Konstantine Zhgenti, Ambassador, Research Fellow at Levan Mikeladze Diplomatic Training and Research Institute MFA of Georgia, Georgia)

Chapter 20. Russia, the Middle East and the International System
(Sotiris Roussos, Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science and International Relations of the University of the Peloponnese, Tripoli, Greece, and others)

Chapter 21. Russia and the Balkan States: Variable Speeds of Engagement
(Othon Anastasakis, South East European Studies at Oxford, St Antony’s College University of Oxford, England)

Chapter 22. The Resilience of the Kremlin’s Economic Influence in Southeastern Europe in the Age of Sanctions
(Martin Vladimirov, Economic Program, Center for the Study of Democracy, Sofia, Bulgaria)

Index

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