Regions and Powers: The Structure of International Security

By Barry Buzan; Ole Wæver | Go to book overview

13
The post-Soviet space: a regional
security complex around Russia

In most Western analyses of the area of the former Soviet Union, the situation is presented as anomalous due to the blatantly asymmetrical relations. The underlying agenda is how the weaker states around Russia can gain enough independence and equality to establish a more 'normal' relationship. However, as argued above, there is nothing historically (ch. 1) or theoretically (ch. 3) strange about regions with a dominant power at the centre. Analytically we should rather try to understand how this RSC operates and where it is placed and headed in the larger historical pattern. This particular region has historically been structured by two long-term patterns: (1) the waves of growth and contraction of the Russian Empire; (2) change in degrees of separateness and involvement with other regions, primarily Europe.

The chapter opens with a brief discussion of the historical trajectory of the Russian state as well as those of the new states that have significant state histories of their own. The main section examines security dynamics as they have evolved in the region from the dissolution of the Soviet Union to today, in terms of levels (domestic, regional, interregional, global). Within this it specifies the variation among four different subregions: the Baltic states, the western group of states, the Caucasus, and Central Asia. For most of the states, security concerns relate mainly to other states in the subcomplex plus Russia. What define the wider RSC, grouping them all together, are the unifying factors, first, of Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and, second, that a coalition attempting to rein in Russia necessarily cuts across regions. The argument as to why the Russia-centred complex is separate was given in the introduction to part V. The major complicating factor in this division is the role of Europe in the identity struggles of Russia. However, it will be argued here that, although Europe historically played

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