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Thoughtful geopolitical course or luck?
Material posted: Publication date: 01-11-2016
The current situation in the world has certain instability, the relative youth of the questionable effectiveness of international organizations and political institutions, as well as the presence of ever-growing trials, such as terrorism, global separatism [1], depletion of resources, etc. Russia is actively involved in foreign events. But what is the reason?

Russia is one of the oldest players in the international arena, which has years of experience and has always been a key player. Always – so almost since the birth of Russia as a state, it already becomes noticeable, and for many hundreds of years is often the center of attention, not only European States but also around the world. For the modern reality is "always" also turns out to be true.

In this regard, it is necessary to understand the current situation of Russia as a political actor and to understand in terms of geopolitics, in order to completely understand its place in the world.

Geopolitics is considered as a separate scientific discipline, a component of political science. When we talk about geopolitics, it's impossible not to recall such names as R. Callen, H. Mackinder, A. Mahan, F. Ratzel, K. Haushofer, and Spykman. Rudolf chellen is famous because he is considered the father of geopolitics. His views he expressed in the writings of "Anthropogeographie", "Humanity as a life phenomenon on the Earth", "Political geography, or the Geography of States, commercial and military" and "Political geography". The latter name was, in fact, a term identical to the modern "geopolitics". Ratzel proceeded from the understanding of space as a political resource and the emphasis on geographical condition (size, border, landscape, vegetation and water relative to other parts of the world) foreign and domestic policy. To this scholar belongs the famous phrase: "People must live and die on earth, granted him by fate, in obedience to his lot." And another statement another German geopolitics Otto Maully: "Ratzel, the geopolitics of development would have been unthinkable, so Callen or anyone else can be called, as sometimes happens out of ignorance, the father of geopolitics. It is Ratzel".

The truth is, Kellen R. is the author of the term. He considered geopolitics as a part of political science and gave her the next concept is "the study of the state, considered as a geographical organism or as a spatial phenomenon, i.e., as a land, territory, space or, more precisely, as a country."

H. Mackinder in the report "Geographical axis of history" argues that for the state the most advantageous geographical position is the median, the Central position. It introduced the concept of Heartland, the most favorable geographical foothold to control the whole world geographically identical to Russia.

Mackinder believed that the main task of the Anglo-Saxon geopolitics is to prevent the formation of a strategic continental Alliance around the "geographical axis of history" - Russia.

In Russia as in the West, the preconditions for the emergence of geopolitical ideas were formed in the process of studying the role of the natural environment and especially the geographical factorv society. In this Russian geopolitical tradition full of deep original ideas. Among them, emphasize the spatial factor, which is the basis of Russian history. For several centuries, from the liberation from the Tatar-Mongol yoke, the Russian people lived, in the words of F. A. Stepun, "impossible dream, the inclusion of the Russian plain spanning the horizon in the composition of the Russian State".

In the IX century under the influence of the establishment of the state and religious institutions Russia becomes the active subject of history and geopolitics. In the Russian school of geopolitics have identified a number of eras. The first is the geopolitical era of Kievan Rus', originating from the enterprises of the Novgorod and Kievan Rus ' Oleg in 882 In this era happened a significant event – the Baptism of Rus, which had also a political meaning - the spiritual consolidation of the process of unification of the Slavs under the aegis of Russia and the geopolitical importance of the international stage as befits a player.

In the early 20-ies of XIII century invasion of the Mongols. Her first defeat on the Kalka river in 1223 to 1240, Kiev was captured. These events marked the beginning of the era ordinal Russia, which was associated with loss of independence. The main geopolitical objectives at that time:

  • in the first period (1240-1328) —the survival of the population, preservation of ethnic identity and the Christian religion, the preservation of state institutions;
  • in the second period (1328-1480) —acquisition of national independence, an independent foreign policy.

In the XIV century the process of unification of Russian lands, and the bulwark of statehood becomes the Grand Duchy of Moscow. This was the era of the Grand Duchy of Moscow (1480-1582). During his reign Ivan III sought the annexation of different territories and become the Supreme ruler of the entire Russian land. And his marriage with the niece of the last Byzantine Emperor, Sophia (Zoe) Palaeologus, allowed the Russian tsars after the fall of Constantinople consider themselves heirs of the Byzantine emperors.

At the turn of XV—XVI centuries the Principality of Moscow extends beyond the North-Eastern Russia, and after the annexation of Kazan and Astrakhan khanate begins to rapidly expand to the East. Russian geopolitics call this period (1552— 1582), the third geopolitical era Russia.

Next, the fourth is the geopolitical era is the era of Muscovy (1552-1682), which lasted from the campaign of Ermak to Siberia during the reign of Ivan IV until the beginning of the reign of Peter I. According to V. O. kliuchevskii, a hallmark of the political history of Russia in XVI—XVII centuries becomes the colonization of the vast spaces of Siberia and the Far East.

The reign of Peter I marked the beginning of the fifth epoch of Imperial Russia. In this era in its geopolitical value, there are five reigns:

  1. Peter I (the creation of new geopolitical position of Russia)
  2. Ekateriny (cemented Russia's status as a great power, conquered the Crimea and received access to the Black sea, to join Russia after the partition of Poland Lithuania and Byelorussia, vast areas in the lower reaches of the Dnieper)
  3. Alexander I (Russia gave a powerful rebuff to Napoleon, which contributed to the collapse of the Napoleonic Empire and the creation of a new order in Europe after the Congress of Vienna)
  4. Nikola (Russia stays in isolation, the decline of Russia as a great European power)
  5. Alexandra

Sixth era — the era of the Soviet state (1917ñ1993) can be divided into two periods. The first period (1920-1970) is characterized by the restoration of their political, economic and military-strategic positions of the Russian state in the form of the USSR and attempts of the new expansion, now under the banner of communism and world revolution. When Joseph Stalin, the Soviet Union had annexed the territory of Western Ukraine and Western Byelorussia, part of the Karelian isthmus, the southern part of Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands, are prepared to establish military-political organization of the Warsaw Pact, including Bulgaria, Hungary, GDR, Poland, Romania, Czechoslovakia, Albania, formed by the socialist camp, which included in addition to the member countries of the Warsaw Pact, Yugoslavia, China, Mongolia, DPRK, Vietnam, Cuba.

Thus, after the Second world war was a system limitrophe (border) States, which served as a kind of protection against the penetration of harmful in the USSR in the ideological relation of ideas and the subversive activities of intelligence services and secret services of Western countries.

The last attempt at expansion under the banner of communism have taken the regime of Leonid Brezhnev in Afghanistan (1979-1989). This war ended the regime of Mikhail Gorbachev in a real collapse of socialism and the loss of any will to resist. It is not surprising that the leadership of the Communist party in the late 1980s, handed over one of the geopolitical position after another.

The second period of development of the Soviet state (1970-1993) was characterized by a stagnant economy and falling living standards of the Soviet people. Dramatically weakened political position of the USSR in the international arena. The country was plunged into a global crisis. The result was the collapse of the Soviet Union.

At that time a new concept of "Island Russia", which in his works were developed by V. L. Tsymbursky. There were several reasons for the development of this concept:

  • the collapse of the Soviet Union
  • reflections on the future of Russia
  • to counterbalance the concept of Eurasianism (not appropriate for Russia, according to V. L. Tsymbursky)
  • "demand in geopolitics"

The idea of "Island Russia" is that Russia as a subject of geopolitics can be described using three criteria:[1]

  • Russia is a holistic geopolitical niche of the Russian ethnos, which lies to the East of the Romano-Germanic ethnocofessional platform.
  • In Russia there are many difficult for the development of the lands East of the Ural mountains, who never knew a real threat this part of the world, but perhaps feel this threat now from one of the States of the East).
  • Russia is far from liberal civilization in the West, and separated by so-called "territories, Straits".

Externally (shareware) features of the "island" as follows:[2]

  • on the North and East borders are washed by the ocean;
  • to the South stretches a formidable barrier of mountains and deserts
  • in the West, the border separates "Strait" small peoples and States not belonging to the Romano-Germanic Europe.

As considers V. L. Tsymbursky "Ostrovityanova" Russia resulted in the wars waged by her against the neighboring States ethnonursing platforms.[3] that is, the size of our country was allowed to wage war on the outskirts, as the enemy was difficult to get inside, and if it was possible, but the way back was cut off.

It is important to mention that the Russian "Ostrovityanova" is not identical to the British model, that is, Russia is not isolated itself completely, but on the contrary, was actively involved in the life of Europe and Asia.

According to the author, this concept is truly reflect the situation in the 90-ies of XX century it is Worth considering whether it is relevant at this point in time?

Russia is isolated? To some extent, Yes. Not so long ago, Ukraine held the Orange revolution. Color revolutions around the world grow each year with new force, and therefore with more unpleasant consequences. The consequences of this revolution – the civil war on the territory of Ukraine; the divisions among the population not only because of the policy, but also on cultural differences ("Who does not jump, the Muscovite"), as well as the loss of the Crimea.

Many foreign journalists and politicians call this phenomenon annexation. But really none of them ever thought about the true meaning of the term? Big encyclopedic dictionary gives the following definition, which is not very different from the interpretations of other dictionaries,- the forcible annexation of (capture) all or part of the territory of another state and people, as well as the forcible retention of the people already within the borders of another state[4].

You should pay attention to the phrase "the forcible retention of the people." Is this justified in relation to the Crimean? Almost absolute majority of the Peninsula voted for joining Russia. Absolutely incorrect use of the term. And because of this anti-Russia sanctions were imposed. And yet it is not an indicator of isolation, consistent with a response – counter-sanctions, we continue to cooperate with all countries at various levels.

In this interpretation the concept of "Ostrovityanova" is not appropriate. But think of it as the name of geopolitical activity in Russia, then there is something to speculate. We have always had so-called allies, but actually they realize their interests, because this is a political game. Only in Soviet times we had a strong unity with countries that are now part of CIS. And because they are too dangerous to rely blindly trusting. Ukraine, for example, now sees us as the enemy, and so spins this image among its population that even begins to use funny emblems in official agencies (new arms of intelligence, owl, piercing, sword Russia[5]). Ukraine was not so much addressed to the coveted West as faced Turkish geopolitical challenge, but also with the risk of territorial differentiation in North-Western Ukraine (Galicia, Northern Bukovina, Transcarpathia), gravitating to Europe and southern Ukraine closer to Russia.

The key idea of "Ostrovityanova" in my interpretation is the understanding of the island as the centre. The geopolitical center. But here again it is necessary to pay attention to terminology, as is your concept different from you meant to me. Geopolitical centers "are the States whose importance is derived not from their power and motivation but rather from their potential vulnerability to action by geo-strategic actors". Most often, geopolitical centers are due to its geographical location, which in some cases gives a special role in the plan to control access to important areas. Such countries can act as the shield of the state or region of vital importance in the geopolitical arena.

In the current environment there are five key geostrategic players and five geopolitical centers. France, Germany, Russia, China and India, according to Brzezinski[6], are the major active figures. Ukraine, Azerbaijan, South Korea, Turkey and Iran play the role of the principally important geopolitical centers, although both Turkey and Iran are to some extent also geostrategically active countries.

Without a stable political situation in Russia is difficult to talk about security in Eurasia. But at the same time there are fears of revival of Imperial ambitions in the case of the strengthening of Russia's position. Therefore, Brzezinski believes that it is important for America, the non-return of Ukraine into the Russian state, the retention of Russia mainly in the framework of the national state and strengthen organic ties with Europe. Possible future accession of Russia to the European and transatlantic structures would have opened them the way for the Transcaucasian republics and would greatly expanded the boundaries of American influence in Eurasia.

It should be emphasized the fact that Russia never had colonies. Moreover, a distinctive feature of Russian geopolitics is its focus on the anthropological and spiritual interests. Of particular importance is the most important geopolitical act of the conquest of space: "People in a position to conquer and control only the space that corresponds to the degree of its socio-political organization. Same river, which was an invincible obstacle to uncivilized people, became a medium of communication for the people of culture."[7]

At the same time, the old man gives the following description of the Russian people: the challenges and crises of national life to the fore not money, or military organization, and two moral engine, through which only and perhaps the tension of all forces of people, which crushes everything and nothing itself ruined: "It is the discipline or the gift of obedience, or the enthusiasm or boundless willingness to sacrifice".

What now is the basis for the geopolitical policy of Russia and whether this course at all?

Currently, the Russian Federation entered the new seventh epoch of their national-ethnic and state development of geopolitics, which called era of democratic Russia. At the moment, modern Russia is gradually recovering from a massive crisis after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Russia is building up momentum and gradually increases its influence. In the Arctic Russia to defend their rights in the Bering sea and Arctic ocean. In the CIS countries our influence is not weakened, and with many countries, we continue to operate in other associations. The financial crisis of the Belarusian state and the freezing of its relations with the EU after the presidential elections led to the fact that from oblivion was resurrected the idea of the Union state of Russia and Belarus. And although in this country increases activity in China, he can not become a real alternative to Russia. To the South direction include the topic of Syria and Turkey. Partly because of problems with the West, Russia had to find ways of raising prestige. One of the options was an operation in Syria. Syria is victim of US geopolitics, trying to spread its influence favorite way – using the mechanism of color revolutions. Now there are some forces that are tearing the country apart. The problem is not only in the government and his political views. The fact that the region is developed. For us it established relations, thanks to more Pro-Soviet Hafez al-Assad – father of the current Syrian President. Together with the Libyan leader Gaddafi they began not just to improve their state, but to bring them to the international arena, even on a new level. We can't lose such an important region, and the fact that the operations are conducted by our country alone, suggests that there is a certain independence of Russia's actions on the world stage.

As for the Eastern direction, at the moment it is one of the most successful. China, with its appetite for energy is an attractive economic and political partner for Russia. But do not forget that the partner has violated "the coastal zone of the island", that speaks about his true intentions. As to the direction attribute of the BRICS and the SCO (despite the fact that some members of these organizations from that direction). Cooperation on the grounds of the SCO and BRICS as a whole fruitful.

It is worth mentioning that relations with the EU are mostly overshadowed by the political influence of the US in the region. The EU, unfortunately, do not have the independence of political decisions from the existence of NATO. However, the European States, no matter how wanted an all-powerful America cannot afford to ignore the opinion of Russia. First, military power. Second, Russia is closer than the US: still one continent. This second point reinforces the first.

Moreover, the United States is not cooperate with us. Though, because they still buy Russian coal and rocket engines.

What else is the positive characteristics of the current situation:

  • permanent membership in the UN Security Council with veto power. This means that Russia in one way or another may make to defend their position on the forums
  • nuclear weapons and military capabilities available to the Russian armed forces
  • geography: rich natural and human resources

Changing geopolitical picture of the modern world has a significant impact on the formation of the concept of geopolitical security of Russia. In connection with the beginning of the strategic project for the development of Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus, the Eurasian Union was adopted by the "Geopolitical doctrine of Russia".

Sources of geopolitical threats to the safe development of Russia, the authors of the document, "can be the state and forces seeking:

  • to achieve military, political and other superiority over Russia with a view to use itself against Russia
  • to limit the sovereignty of the Russian state and to subordinate its development to its interests
  • to withdraw from the ownership of the Russian people historically belonging to them natural and other resources"

Currently we can speak about three main options for the elaboration of Russia's strategic line, depend largely on geopolitical prospects of Russia:

  • attempt to maintain great power status and policy aimed at the expansion of areas of influence and control over other States.
  • the acquisition of Russia's status as a regional power
  • in principle equidistance from the various centers of power and pragmatic rapprochement or removal from specific coalitions and States the principle: "Russia has no permanent friends and permanent enemies, Russia has permanent interests"

Summing up, I want to say that Russia as a political actor can take one of the key places. And in fact, already is.

It remains to identify a new national idea, to reform social structures, and most importantly the economy and to choose their geopolitical strategy and tactics. Otherwise, the question is still relevant – all the results of Russia's foreign policy - a structured plan or did we instinctively follow our historical past?

The list of sources

  1. Baranov N.. A series of lectures about geopolitics. URL:
  2. Brzezinski Z. "the Grand chessboard"/ M 1998
  3. Big encyclopaedic dictionary.
  4. Vadim Tsymbursky. Island Russia. URL:
  5. Vadim Tsymbursky. "Island Russia" for seven years, or the adventures of a geopolitical concept. URL:
  6. Vasilenko I. A. Geopolitics of the modern world: proc. allowance. M.: IZDATEL'stvo Yurayt, 2010.
  7. Zheltov V. V., Zheltov M. V. Geopolitics: history and theory: textbook. Moscow: University textbook, 2009.
  8. Ilin, M. problems of formation of "Islands of Russia" and the contours of its internal geopolitics. URL:
  9. Isayev B. A. Geopolitics: the textbook. SPb.: Peter, 2006.
  10. Karyakin, V. P., "Military policy and strategy of the United States in the geopolitical dynamics of the modern world"
  11. Karyakin V. P. "the Modern geopolitical dynamics of the Middle East". Publisher: Border; 2010
  12. I. F. Kefeli , Geopolitics Of Eurasia. SPb.: ID "Petropolis", 2010.
  13. Kissinger, "Diplomacy"/ M 1997
  14. Nikolay Spassky. Island Russia. Russia in global Affairs. NO. 3 MAY/JUNE 2011. URL:
  15. Panarin I. "Information warfare and geopolitics". M.: Generation. 2006
  16. Pogorelov D. E., Fesenko V. Yu., Filippov K. V. Latest political dictionary. M.,2010.
  17. Sirota N. M. Geopolitics. A short course in. SPb.: Peter, 2006.
  18. The shabaga A.V. "the Historical subject in search of his I"; publishing house of Russian peoples friendship University

[1] Vadim Tsymbursky. "Island Russia" for seven years, or the adventures of a geopolitical concept. URL:

[2] Mikhail Ilyin. Problems of formation of "Islands of Russia" and the contours of its internal geopolitics. URL:

[3] Nikolay Spassky. Island Russia. Russia in global Affairs. NO. 3 MAY/JUNE 2011. URL:

[4] Collegiate dictionary. URL:


[6] Z. Brzezinski, "the Grand chessboard"/ M 1998

[7] L. I. Mechnikov "Civilization and the great historical rivers"; Pangaea; 1995

Smol'nikova Ekaterina

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