1088 Budapest, Rákóczi út 5.; Tel: (36 1) 381 23 47; E-mail: Ez az e-mail-cím a szpemrobotok elleni védelem alatt áll. Megtekintéséhez engedélyeznie kell a JavaScript használatát.
Schriftenreihe des Europa Institutes Budapest, Band 29:75–76.


Priorities of Russian Foreign Policy


It is important to take account of the events of the 1990s to be able to understand the motions of Russian foreign policy. In the 1990s the Russian political elite were experimenting with the development of a liberal economic model in the interest of modernising the country, but it ended up in chaos. The oligarchs constituting the core of the current economic elite gained strength during that period while tens of millions of people lived under the poverty line.

One cannot speak about a coherent Russian foreign political strategy in that both economically and politically chaotic period. It can be stated in general that Russia has been conducting a kind of ‘global foreign policy’ due to its great power status. While the primary direction of foreign political efforts is Europe and countries of the European Union, Moscow pays careful attention to the Russian-American relations. It is true that it has no serious economic foundations and one cannot even speak about a set of institutional relations, only about dialogues between individuals. It is also a decisive factor determining Russian foreign policy how the relations between NATO and Russia would change.

During the recent period there has been a changing tone in Russian foreign policy which can be explained by the growth of the country’s economic strength. The most important task of the coming years would be the modernisation of the infrastructure and the structural change of the economy from the angle of the development of Russian economy and of the solution of demographic problems. Currently a kind of capital concentration can be observed in Russia which is manifest in the setting up of state holdings and the concentration of the existing state-owned companies. In the background of this tendency there is the leading political elite wishing to build an economic basis opposing the oligarchs. In addition these branches, such as ordnance industry, aircraft industry, car manufacturing, are extremely capital- and research intensive ones, and they also represent a bigger added value. Russian leadership wishes to bring capital and technology to the country, an important condition of which is to become marketable partners.

A domestic quest for identity seen since the 1990s makes the development of a uniform Russian foreign policy difficult. The Russian Federation is a legal successor of the Soviet Union in every respect, at the same time it tries to build a capitalist kind of economic system. It means that it has to maintain continuity while experiencing a huge break and discontinuity. In such a period of quest for identity it is more difficult to formulate national interests and it is extremely difficult to formulate a coherent foreign policy broken down to regions. Though several background institutions try to assist the formulation of foreign political aims, there is still quite a lot of ‘improvisation’ in Russian foreign policy even today.

The Balkans does not play a strategic role in Russian foreign political thinking, the Black Sea region is far more important. Only the Kosovo issue is on the agenda as Russia repeatedly calls attention to the fact that a forced settlement may lead to serious tension. Moscow has again learned to say no, but apparently it has no proposals really pointing ahead. At the same time it is a fact beyond doubt that the means and basis of the growing strength of the Russian economy lies in the energy carriers and since the diversification of the energy resources and transport lines figures among the objectives of the European Union, the Balkans is expected to be revaluated in the eyes of Russia. Moscow is economically interested in transporting the energy carriers along as many routes as possible to the target countries because it is at least as much in need of the export income from Europe as Europe is dependent on the Russian energy carriers.


* Ambassador of Hungary in Moscow