Policy Perspectives

Ambiguous Relations: Russia's Post-Soviet Neighborhood

Publication Date: 



This collection of policy memos is based on the proceedings of a May 2013 workshop of the Program on New Approaches to Research and Security in Eurasia (PONARS Eurasia), held in collaboration with the European University at St. Petersburg.

The workshop, “Russia’s Global Engagement,” brought together scholars and experts based in the United States and the Russian Federation, as well as Armenia, Azerbaijan, Canada, Estonia, Georgia, and Ukraine. Participants discussed Russia’s international position and U.S.-Russian relations; shifting Russian policies on energy, Asia, migration, and international economics; Syria, terrorism, and arms control; and military reform. We originally published the policy memos prepared for the workshop between April and August 2013, and we are republishing many of them in two collected volumes.

This volume, Ambiguous Relations: Russia’s Post-Soviet Neighborhood, includes eight memos on Russian and Western relations with Ukraine, the Baltic states, the South Caucasus, and Central Asia. Arkady Moshes and Serhiy Kudelia argue that Ukraine’s membership in the Russian-led Eurasian Customs Union is a bad deal for Ukraine and Russia both. Olexiy Haran examines how Ukraine’s politically weakened President Viktor Yanukovych is exploring more authoritarian methods of governance, thereby continuing to put at risk the unsigned EU-Ukraine agreement. Mark Kramer calls attention to the risk of heightened confrontation between NATO and Russia in the Baltic region, as NATO begins to take more seriously its commitment to protect the security of its smaller allies. Kornely Kakachia, Sergey Minasyan, and Anar Valiyev offer nuanced analyses of Russia’s relations with Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia, explaining why in all three cases the future course of these relations remains highly uncertain. Finally, Alexander Cooley and Marlene Laruelle explain how in Central Asia Russia is abandoning a doctrine of exerting general regional influence in favor of more focused integration with Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan.