The Sources of Russian Foreign Policy after the Cold War

By Celeste A. Wallander | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 5
The Foreign Policy Preferences of Russian Defense Industrialists: Integration or Isolation?

Kimberly Marten Zisk

Russia is faced with a major choice in the direction of its future foreign policy. Should it strive to belong to the group of Western developed states, integrating its economy into the trading and investment system dominated by wealthy countries and tying its security interests to those of Western Europe? Or should it strike out on its own as an independent great power, refusing to allow Western concerns to influence its policy choices and seeking to reestablish the clout the Soviet Union once held as a military powerhouse? Regardless of which foreign policy question Russia is considering at the moment, from the activities of its military troops in the "near abroad" to the sale of advanced weaponry to Iran, the questions of how these actions will affect Russia's relationship with the West, and of whether the West matters, are repeatedly raised in political debates in the parliament and the press.1 Russia has throughout history been split philosophically between Westernizers and Slavophiles, and the decline of the Soviet Union was directly connected to Cold War competition against the West. Therefore, Russian political figures tend to align themselves on one side or the other of a Manichean view of the Western world.

Clearly, it is in the interests of the West to be able at least to predict which vision will prevail and at best to determine whether there is anything the outside world can do to convince Russia to choose a Westward-leaning path. This chapter is an attempt to contribute to both of those goals by examining the foreign policy preferences of a key set of Russian domestic actors: managers of the remnants of Soviet defense industrial firms.

The study of Russian defense industrialists is important from the standpoints of both policy and theory. In policy terms, the defense industry may turn out to be the keystone of whatever political edifice is built in Russia today. This industry must of course compete with other economic actors for access to the policy agenda. The preferences of its managers alone will not determine Russian actions. Yet this industry has been the source of significant tension and pressure in Russian politics. Defense industrial lobbying over the state budget and subsidies

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