Foreign Policy of Russia: Foreign-Policy Mentality and Tools for Securing National Interests
The type of the Foreign policy of the country is dependent on various aspects. One of the most important variables in this chain are the foreign policy mentality and the ways or tools how the national interests and foreign policy goals are achieved and secured.
According to the analysts, Russian Foreign Policy style is mainly shaped based on the Russia’s traditional strategic culture, key professional group of the Russian elite, and the individual profile of President Vladimir Putin (Solovey, V., 2018).
Russian Strategic Culture
Recognition of the post–Soviet space as a sphere of Russian influence forms the contemporary Russian mentality; collapse of the Soviet Union was the result of their own betrayal and the subversive actions of the United States. Therefore, an idea of strategic patience is probably the most important and prominent ingredient in Russian strategic culture. The Russian political establishment is sure that people are ready to endure suffering in the face of an external threat. Such patience will lead finally to the final goal of the country and will open a window of opportunity sooner or later.
Key Professional Group of the Russian Elite
Russia is the only country in the world that is run by former and current intelligence officers. As Solovey points out this group of professionals influences two main aspects of foreign policy. Firstly, foreign policy is viewed in a paranoid light. Any unfavorable actions are seen as a Western-inspired conspiracy against Russia. And, secondly, the methods employed for achieving foreign policy goals are directly connected to the intelligence service instruments. Corrupting European leaders, supporting populist parties and movements in Europe, hacking and cyberattacks, and widespread propaganda in social media, are all borrowed from the arsenal of the intelligence services (Solovey, V., 2018).
Individual Profile of President Putin
President Putin’s interest in foreign policy has huge influence on this field of politics. Putin is convinced that he is the man who restored the power of the country and raised Russia from its knees. President believes that enemies’ main goal is to overthrow him and thus weaken the country. Precisely, such approach makes any communication with the West difficult. Surrounding of the Russian president largely shares his views. In addition, Putin’s personality largely influences his foreign policy. Namely, Putin’s fundamental principles consists of a cult of power; the superiority of the gang over the general public; respect for force, which is the only source of power and a key instrument of power, meanwhile law, morality, and public opinion do not matter. This feature of his personality, perceptions and values also affects the type of foreign policy tools of the country. It generally consists of soft and hard power means.
National Interests Securing Tools
In order to secure and maintain national interests and also achieve the foreign policy goals Russian Federation uses diplomatic, economic, military and cultural means. The most enforcing tools are economic and military ones. In terms of economic leverages, energy resources play vital role. Russia’s national power in the energy sector is one of the biggest in the world, but cannot use this whole power to achieve its foreign policy objectives. It access to national power in the energy sector through legal regulation functions, control of national energy companies and cooperation with private energy companies. In 1995 state controlled 38,4 % of Gazprom’s shares, but by 2005 it expanded control of the shares to more than 50 % (Česnakas, G., 2016).
According to Professor Česnakas Russian foreign policy instruments in energy sectors include threats to reduce supply of resources and reduction of supply, threats to increase prices of energy resources and reduction of transit, threats to reduce transit and decrease of transit, threats to increase export tariffs and increase of export tariffs, and threats to demand to cover debts and demands to settle debts. These tools were used several times against Belarus, Ukraine and Georgia, for achieving Russian foreign policy goals and ensuring national interests.
In addition to the economic tools, military capabilities are widely entailed in foreign policy means of the Russian Federation. Occupying Georgian territories in 2008, annexation of Crimea, supporting separatists in Eastern Ukraine and military intervention in civil war of Syria, indicates an increased role of the military power tools in the foreign policy of the country.
To summarize, foreign policy mentality and the tools, used for securing national interests, can be structured due to the strategic culture, group of professional and political elites, and political leader personalities. These features will be respectively discussed in the following article.