russia and obama

russia and obama - Stratfor - PART 7: THE OBAMA...

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Stratfor --------------------------- PART 7: THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION AND THE FORMER SOVIET UNION Print Version ----------------------------------------------------------------- To download a PDF of this piece click here. Editor's Note: This is the seventh piece in a series that explores how key countries in various regions have interacted with the United States in the past, and how their relationships with Washington will likely be defined during the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama. U.S. President Barack Obama's administration seems to be largely focused on South Asia and the Middle East. Yet one of Washington's biggest challenges will come from its old foe: Russia. Obama's team must make some major decisions regarding Russia and American influence in Eurasia -- decisions that will affect not only U.S.-Russian relations but also future dynamics in Europe, the former Soviet Union and many other regions. Russia's Geographic Position In a nutshell, Russia is a large, untenable landmass that not only is difficult to hold together but also sees itself surrounded by enemies and other great (or potentially great) powers. The country's core -- where most of its population and commerce are concentrated -- actually consists of only the Moscow-St. Petersburg corridor and the surrounding European Russian regions up to the Ural Mountains. The only geographic barrier separating this core from both Europe and the Middle East is distance. The core is also disconnected from Russia's wealth of resources, which lie beyond the Ural Mountains in Siberia -- making the use of Russian resources very difficult and pricey, given the costs of transport and of operating in Siberia's marshlands and frozen tundra. (click image to enlarge) Russia -- the largest country in terms of landmass -- has difficulty being a land power because of its sheer size. Its land and sea borders are impossible to defend effectively, leaving the country very vulnerable to invasion. Because Russia is surrounded by countless countries and superpowers, it is constantly concerned about security. Its main focus, of course, is protecting its core; its south and east are its secondary focus. In order to fully protect itself, Russia must have a buffer zone surrounding it almost entirely, keeping other powers and threats at bay. This means Russia must conquer (or at least influence) a ring of states surrounding European Russia, the Caucasus and non-European Russia. This imperative led to the organization of the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact bloc, and it is now driving Russia to reassert control over the former Soviet states. Russia wants to be a world power, but it must protect itself before extending its reach beyond its immediate sphere of influence. And since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia has lost a lot of ground, with Western powers (particularly NATO and the European Union) expanding into its realm. Therefore, Russia faces the task of reasserting control over its former Soviet states while pushing Western influence out of those states. The Bush Administration and Russia
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russia and obama - Stratfor - PART 7: THE OBAMA...

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