Introduction: The Fall of the Soviet Union and the Resurgence of Russia
Much has happened in the two decades since the end of the Cold War. In the immediate aftermath of the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia went through a period of dramatic domestic political change and uncertainty in the foreign policy arena. A country that was once a superpower in a bipolar world began to doubt its place in the international system – and not without reason: the collapse of the USSR left Russia in a state of economic, political, and social turmoil, marked by declining economic output and increasing inflation, foreign debt, and budget deficits. Other problems included lack of law and order, loss of central control over the periphery, conflicts in Chechnya, rampant corruption, chronic political instability, and a severe financial crisis. At the start of Vladimir Putin’s presidency, the country’s share of world GDP had fallen to just 1.5%, in contrast to the 21% share held by the United States (Legvold 2001). Moreover, Russia’s economic and political transition during the 1990s was fraught with complications and disappointments.
KeywordsForeign Policy Foreign Debt Shanghai Cooperation Organization International Political Economy Rampant Corruption
The authors would like to thank Sarah Garding, Maria Vassilieva, and Theocharis Grigoriadis for their helpful comments and feedback. Kathy Bowen, Peter Volberding, and Robert Nelson provided valuable research assistance.
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