Russian Soft Power in the South Caucasus: Conceptual Uncertainty and Issues of Practical Application

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2022-66-5-98-111
M. Volkhonskiy,
Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO University), 76, Vernadskogo Prosp., 119454, Moscow, Russian Federation.
Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences (IMEMO), 23, Profsoyuznaya Str., Moscow, 117997, Russian Federation.

Received 01.12.2021. Revised 23.02.2022. Accepted 04.03.2022.

Acknowledgements. The paper was prepared with financial support of Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO-University) in accordance with the project no. 1921-01-01 “Socio-Cultural Phenomena of Border Regions in the Post-Soviet space: Mass Consciousness, Ethno-Cultural and Sectarian Identities, Social Practices”.

Abstract. In recent decades, Russian diplomats and political experts have been constantly discussing the problem of using “soft power” in the conduct of Russian foreign policy in the post-Soviet space. An analysis of the discussions on the problem shows that the practical application of Russian “soft power” runs up, firstly, on a contradictory theoretical understanding of this concept by Russian politicians and experts, and, secondly, on a number of objective difficulties caused by political, socio-economic and cultural features of the post-Soviet space. This article is devoted to the study of the designated complex of problems of the policy of Russian “soft power” in the post-Soviet space on the example of the states of the South Caucasus.It is characteristic that even the resource-instrumentalist policy of “soft power” that Russia pursued in the post-Soviet space had a number of serious shortcomings – the segmentation of resources that were not united by a single system of political values, and the lack of coordination between the leading institutions conducting it. These shortcomings are exacerbated by the constraints that have created the political, economic and cultural characteristics of the post-Soviet states for Russian “soft power”. In the South Caucasus, the main limitation in relation to Georgia was the lack of any “trust” between the two states and societies. With regard to Azerbaijan, a serious constraint for Russian “soft power” is the tight control of the Azerbaijani authorities over the country’s social and political life. In Armenia one can see a significant economic and military-political presence of Russia, but there is no systematic work on the issues of pairing Russian resources of “attractiveness” with the specific interests of this country.

Keywords: international relations, Russian foreign policy, the concept of “soft power”, J. Nye, Russian “soft power”, the post- Soviet space, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia


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For citation:
Volkhonskiy M., Mukhanov V. Russian Soft Power in the South Caucasus: Conceptual Uncertainty and Issues of Practical Application. World Eonomy and International Relations, 2022, vol. 66, No 5, pp. 98-111.

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