Foreign Policy Coming Home

RUSSIA / FSU POLITICS - Report 08 Aug 2014 by Alexey Dolinskiy

An official statement that defending compatriots abroad will be a defining trait of Russia’s foreign policy leaves the country in an uneasy position in its relations with the neighbors where large parts of the population (or even the whole population depending on the definition) can be viewed as Russian compatriots.

Russian elite is increasingly divided as part of it cannot travel to the EU and the US either because of external sanctions or Russia’s own regulation while another part has significant assets and even families living abroad. Business people are in the most complicated situation as they need to maintain good relations with both sides.

Many opposition candidates were denied registration ahead of regional elections that will take place in September 2014 in Russian federal entities. The ruling elite is taking advantage of both rally ‘round the flag effect and the diversion of public attention towards foreign policy rather than domestic issues.

BRICS countries established a new international development institution that may grow into an alternative to the IMF and the World Bank. Russia has very high expectations from the new entity as its leadership plans to expand international development as a pillar for the foreign policy.

About one third of Russians believes that their country should support the Eastern Ukraine where there is an ongoing fight with the Kyiv government. Two more thirds think that Russia should either help the two sides organize a dialogue or stay out of the matter entirely with almost no people willing to support the Kyiv government.

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