January 01, 1998

The Year of the Tiger

An oil pipeline deal with Iran that the West opposed ... Settlement of age-old border disputes with Communist China ... Brokering a settlement in the recent UN/US-Iraqi standoff ... Removal of border troops and scaling back the Russian military presence in the Baltic region ... Announcement of a new series of “Big-Three” summits between Russia, Germany and France ...

What is the common thread? All are bold new foreign policy actions taken by Russia, and all have occured in just the past few months (appropriately, perhaps, on the eve of the Year of the Tiger). Since this summer, Russia has been initiating a much more pragmatic, multilateral, innovative foreign policy. Long gone are the days when ideology and the politics of superpower brinksmanship set Russia’s foreign policy. And now, after some significant foreign policy blunders in recent years, Russia is taking a more strident tack on the world stage, on many fronts.

One can only hope that this boldness will continue to be focused mainly toward economic ends, and not military ones, like the horrible war in Chechnya (which surely tops the list of Russian foreign policy blunders since 1991). That war, which began three years ago, is the focus of two stories in this issue of Russian Life, which begin on page 24.

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