Main schools of geopolitical thought - Russian geopolitics

Trimis la data: 2015-02-16
Materia: Stiinte Politice
Nivel: Facultate
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Despite the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Russia remains the largest country in land area in the world. Russia's European territory, in fact, is nearly equal in size to the land area of the rest of that continent. The size of European Russia has rendered its influential in international geopolitics for centuries, as Mackinder had recognized the role of Russia in defining the heartland. Yet, Russia's vast geopolitical potential was only beginning to be realized by the end of the 19th century.
Relative to the rest of Europe, the Czarist Empire was huge, peripheral, back-ward and isolated. Yet the vast and fertile Russian territory had long been targeted by foreigners for invasion. During the Middle Ages, Russia had been invaded by the German speaking Teutonic Knights from the west and by the Mongols and other asiatic nomads from the east. Meanwhile, Russia's economic development lagged far behind that of Western Europe; industrialisation came late to Russia, which remained a feudal society long after Britain, France, Germany and other European powers had become characterized by industrial capitalism.

Russian geopolitics is ,in large measure, derived of Russia perception of itself as vulnerable, isolated and peripheral. This was recognized as early as the late 17th century by Peter the Great, who travelled throughout western Europe before ascending the Russian throne in 1689. After he became Czar, tried to transform Russia into a major European power by encouraging Western influence. He opened Russia to Western trade and established the city of St. Petersburg on the Baltic as the new capital of the Russian state. Peter the Great and his successors established the traditional cornerstones of Russian international policy: secure borders, access to warm-water ports, elimination of economic dependency and expansion to the east.

The borders of the Russian Empire display different geographical contexts: to the north Russia is bordered by the Arctic Ocean, to the south the great mountain ranges of Asia. The western border, the Russian Plain was always very dangerous, because of its accessibility acted as an important invasion route for centuries. That is why, the western border has been secured constantly, especially against the expansion of Germany.

Another geographic factor which has influenced the Russian geopolitics referred to the climatic constraints. The major rivers and ports of Russia are blocked by ice for several months each winter, diminishing the Russian trade flows mainly to western Europe. Only Murmansk in far northern Russia is an ice-free port, but its remote location on the Arctic Ocean renders it of little value for trade with western Europe.
Thus, a major objective of Russian policy has been expansion to warm-water ports and trading opportunities.
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