The Foreign Policy of Russia: Changing Systems, Enduring Interests

The Foreign Policy of Russia: Changing Systems, Enduring Interests

The Foreign Policy of Russia: Changing Systems, Enduring Interests

The Foreign Policy of Russia: Changing Systems, Enduring Interests

Synopsis

Nogee and Donaldson's new text on contemporary Russian foreign policy is a valuable resource for specialists and the book of choice for college and university courses. The authors identify continuities in Russia's international behavior, despite regime changes, and the basic factors structuring these long-established patterns. They also analyze some of the external and internal forces that influence changes of policy direction, not all of which are predictable. The result is a perceptive, balanced treatment that provides readers with the context and the analytical tools needed to understand Russia's role in the world past, present, and future.

Excerpt

The foreign policy of Russia--whether in its tsarist, Soviet, or democratic form--is an expression in some measure of certain relatively fixed geopolitical realities. As it began to escape the confines of Muscovy--the principality with Moscow at its center--the expanding state soon encompassed vast and often forbidding territories. At its peak size, after more than four centuries of expansion, the Russian Empire (including Poland and Finland) covered just under nine million square miles--over one-sixth of the earth's land surface. After World War II, the Soviet Union, including portions of prewar Poland, Finland, and other East European states, as well as fragments of prewar Germany and Japan, had an area of about 8.6 million square miles. Today's Russia, the successor to the largest of the USSR's fifteen republics, has an area of 6,592,850 square miles--still the largest of any country in the world and almost twice the size of second-ranked Canada. From east to west, it spans more than 6,000 miles and eleven time zones; from north to south, it extends about 2,800 miles.

However, much of this vast land is inhospitable. Located in the high northern latitudes, with no mountain ranges in the north to shield it from frigid Arctic blasts, Russia experiences climatic extremes of bitter cold during the long winters and intense heat during the brief summers. Compared to North America, Russia extends considerably farther northward, with most of its land area north of 50° latitude. St. Petersburg, at 59.5° north, lies more northerly than Juneau, Alaska. Moscow, at 55.5° north, is situated somewhat more northerly than Edmonton, Alberta. Even the southernmost part of Russia, in the Caucasus, is just at 41° north--the same latitude as Cheyenne, Wyoming; Cleveland, Ohio; or New Haven, Connecticut. About one-half of the country is in the permafrost zone, where the subsoil is permanently frozen; most of Russia's major ports and rivers are frozen for part of the year.

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