Historically, Russia has always been a key player in the development of the whole region and shaping continentality. From the czarist epoch to the Soviet Union and post-Soviet era, the influence of Russia in the region was robust, affecting smaller countries and their buildup. Once the Soviet Union collapsed, Russia was forced to seek options for preserving its dominance, and the promotion of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and Eurasian Customs Union (ECU) was chosen as a strategy for reaching this objective (Dragneva and Wolczuk 3). As for now, there are three major vectors of Russia’s influence on the region: Eastern Europe (the Baltic States, Ukraine, Belarus, Yugoslavia, and the Balkans), the Trans-Caucasus and Central Asia, and Mongolia. They are seen as tools for building up might because of their economic dependence on Russia.
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The primary idea behind promoting Eurasian integration is the preservation of isolation from external developments and influence and fostering Eurasian integration processes (Cohen 217). The major goal is to avoid the growth of the U.S. and EU dominance in this part of the world and maintain the impact on the peripheral states mentioned above. When developing relations with these countries and imposing pro-Russian vector of development, emphasis is made on geographical and historical proximity as well as cultural ties and the spread of ethnic Russians all over the region. Nevertheless, as the Baltic States, Trans-Caucasus, and Ukraine decided to choose independent path of development, Russia’s plan for the further expansion and decreasing the role of the United States and the European Union in the region faced the risk of failure. Moreover, the interference of both Western States and Russia into internal affairs of independent countries mentioned above adds to the threat of turning the region into another shatterbelt because of the constant competition of interests between NATO and Russia (Blinnikov 132).
Still, there is a risk of growing instability in the region. Nowadays, this area is referred to as the Eurasian Convergence Zone because five geopolitical powers (Russia, China, India, Japan, and Maritime Europe) converge here (Grosdev and Marsh 187). However, there is as well the sixth power – the United States. All of them are interested in local natural resources such as gas and oil that are of significant importance to determining geopolitical balance of powers. For this reason, it would be better to preserve neutrality in this zone, avoiding imposition of interests and strategies for the further development. However, due to the homogeneity and historical ties of countries located within this territory Russia cannot but seek ways to promote Russia-led growth, thus preserving isolation and fostering expansion (Dutkiewicz and Sakwa 208).
The risks of instability grew higher with the explosion of military conflict in Ukraine once the country decided to become a part of the European Union and follow the Western path of development, promoting openness and overcoming challenges such as corruption and isolation. Other appropriate examples of Russia’s activities in the region include supporting the breakaway of Trans-Dniester Republic in Moldova, backing up the Kosovo dispute, and Crimea annexation (Cohen 253-254).
These steps have a significant influence on both political and economic environments, as they undermine stability not only in the region but also globally. As for the global business environment, it is susceptible to the negative influence of imposing sanctions on Russia in response to its aggressive foreign policy. As the country is partially excluded from international economic relations and continues to promote integration processes within the Eurasian region, there is a risk of isolating all countries, supporting it. The issue becomes more aggravated because of the involvement of Russia in Syrian conflict and ISIS activities.
To sum up, the primary problem related to the existence of the Eurasian Convergence Zone is the fact that Russia wastes the potential of becoming a vast gateway and improving the overall climate in the global political and business environment. With its spectacular economic resources, external ties, and geographical location, Russia could become the driver of peace and economic growth and coordinate antiterrorist efforts around the globe instead of taking steps to turn the territory into another shatterbelt because of the paranoid desire to decrease the influence of the U.S. and EU in the region (Cohen 268).
Blinnikov, Mikhail S. A Geography of Russia and Its Neighbors, New York: The Guilford Press, 2011. Print.
Cohen, Saul Bernard. The Geography of International Relations, New York: Rowman & Littlefield, 2015. Print.
Dragneva, Rilka, and Kataryna Wolczuk. Russia, the Eurasian Customs Union, and the EU: Cooperation, Stagnation or Rivalry? 2012. Web.
Dutkiewicz, Piotr, and Richard Sakwa. Eurasian Integration – the View from Within, New York: Routledge, 2015. Print.
Grosdev, Nikolas, and Christopher Marsh. Russian Foreign Policy: Interest, Vectors, and Sectors, Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications, 2014. Print.