Russia and Its Central Asian ‘Near-Abroad’: Towards a Doctrine for the Periphery

  • Mohiaddin Mesbahi


Since the collapse of the Soviet Union on December 9, 1991, and until very recently, the dominant view and conventional wisdom concerning Russian foreign policy indicated a belief that post-Soviet Russia would have a new foreign policy characterized by fundamental and irreversible changes, including the absence of great power ambitions and competition, a prolonged focus on domestic issues, an ‘isolationist’ external thrust characterized by close cooperation with the West, and the acceptance of the United States’ lead in the international system. According to this view, the new Russian foreign policy posture would be based on Moscow’s acceptance of Russia’s shrunken geopolitical space, especially in its historical Asian domain, i.e. Central Asia and the Caucasus, indicating a significant historical break with the Eurasian notion in Moscow’s world view, and a determined Western orientation towards Europeanization of Russia as a normal continental power. In a major international conference convened immediately after the Soviet collapse in March 1992 in Tehran, many prominent ‘Soviet’ and Western scholars echoed these views and especially identified Russia’s prolonged domestic weakness along with the collapse of the ideology of Communism as the twin pillars opening Russia’ s periphery to regional and international competition. Iran and Turkey, for example, were singled out as the ‘new kids on the block’ with considerable prospects for influence and domination in the former Soviet periphery in the south.


Foreign Policy Foreign Minister Southern Periphery Regional Conflict Collective Security 
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© Hafeez Malik 1997

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  • Mohiaddin Mesbahi

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