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  • Print publication year: 1999
  • Online publication date: January 2010

5 - Russian power and preferences


The motivation

Part II of this book examines Russia's use of economic coercion among the newly independent states (NIS) of the former Soviet Union between 1992 and 1997. When the Soviet Union collapsed in December 1991, fifteen newly sovereign states were created, including the Russian Federation (see figure 5.1 and table 5.1). In the five years after the breakup of the USSR, Russia repeatedly used its economic leverage to extract concessions from the other fourteen newly independent states. While the Russians had considerable economic power over most of the NIS, there was significant variation in Moscow's use of economic diplomacy and in the magnitude of concessions granted to Moscow. This variation provides an excellent opportunity to test whether the statistical significance of conflict expectations is the result of genuine causality or spurious correlation. Comparative methodologies can test whether the conflict expectations approach is the only causal explanation for successful economic coercion, or whether there exist alternative paths to the same outcome.

The cases of Russian foreign economic policy have been selected for several reasons. First, they provide an ideal “natural experiment.” Because economic coercion is a possibility in the international system, nation-states will try to restrict the level of interdependence to avoid vulnerabilities. Interdependence was not something to be feared within the former Soviet Union until after its disintegration. These newly sovereign states started their existence with greater asymmetric dependencies than normally exist among international actors, and they are therefore archetypal candidates for threats of economic coercion.