Executive Summary:

Key Findings:

1. Historical Roots: Russia’s influence in Eastern Europe stems from its expansionist endeavours as the Russian Empire and its control over Eastern European territories during the Soviet era.

2. Political Influence: Russia uses political alliances, such as the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), to maintain cooperation and influence over former Soviet republics. Soft power tactics shape narratives and public opinion, including cultural diplomacy and media control.

3. Economic Leverage: Russia’s dominance in the energy sector, particularly in natural gas supplies, allows it to exert economic pressure on Eastern European countries. Investments in various industries and infrastructure projects provide additional avenues for influence.

4. Military Presence: Russia’s military presence in Eastern Europe is a cause for concern, as demonstrated by the annexation of Crimea and the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine. The Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) serves to maintain military influence in the region.

5. Cultural Influence: Shared historical narratives, religious ties, and the prevalence of the Russian language contribute to Russia’s cultural leverage in Eastern Europe. Media control and information dissemination allow Russia to shape perceptions and maintain a favourable image.

6. Case Studies: Case studies of Ukraine, Belarus, and Poland reveal the diverse experiences of Eastern European countries regarding Russia’s influence, ranging from tension and conflict to close alignment and cultural affinity.

Understanding the multifaceted nature of Russia’s influence in Eastern Europe is crucial for policymakers, scholars, and analysts in navigating the complexities of this relationship and its broader implications for regional and global dynamics.


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