Oleg KUZNETSOV


Oleg Kuznetsov, Ph.D. (Hist.), Assistant Professor, Vice Principal of Scholarly Studies at the Higher School of Social and Managerial Consulting (Institute) (Moscow, the Russian Federation).


EVOLUTION OF RUSSIAS GEOPOLITICAL INTERESTS AND PRIORITIES IN TRANSCAUCASIA

ABSTRACT

The author presents his conception of the evolution of Russias geopolitical interests in Transcaucasia (the Central and part of the Southern Caucasus) caused by a gradual transformation of the military-strategic, political, ideological (including religious) ideas of the Russian elites at different periods. The author relies on a wide range of recent historical and political scientific studies, as well as historiographic surveys and scholarly works of the imperial and Soviet periods, to clarify his conclusions. The very fact of the changes that took place in the past and are still going on today and their vector confirms that Russias top political leaders have been acting and are acting consistently and logically when dealing with the sovereign countries and other Transcaucasian territories.

The well-substantiated and conceptually novel conclusions can be described as extremely relevant: they are based on an analysis of the processes of the last two centuries (rather than the last two decades). This means that the author has successfully avoided the political biases suggested by the current situation. Many of his colleagues fell into this trap: they naively believed that state independence of the Central Caucasian countries robbed Russia of its traditional geopolitical presence in the region. The present author is out to demonstrate beyond any doubt that revision by Russia of its geopolitical priorities in Transcaucasia will strengthen the position it lost in the 1990s. In the near future, the regional elites and other power centers will prove unable to stem Russias mounting influence. In fact, Russias geopolitical domination in Transcaucasia will merely shift from the military-state to the economic sphere, while Russias real clout among the local elites and its influence on the electoral preferences of the local population and local economies will remain as prominent as ever.

Introduction

My discussion of the subject outlined above calls for several stipulations of fundamental importance.

First, here the term Russia is applied to all the states that existed at different periods in time in the territory of the Russian Federation and other territories which formed part of the Russian state prior to 1 February, 1918. In other words, the term is used as a political scientific, rather than a state legal concept to make it easier for European and North American readers to perceive the world, or Eurasian, center of power and geopolitical influence now called the Russian Federation (and its predecessorsthe Soviet Union and the Russian Empire).

Despite the different or even mutually exclusive state ideologies of the three Russian states, their geopolitical interests, priorities, and.


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