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Deyermond, Ruth

Whose neighbourhood? Russian and US contestation of security and norms in the post-Soviet space

In the last two decades, the states of the former Soviet Union have played a central role in the development of the Russian-US bilateral relationship, critical to both states’ perceptions about the changing character of the international system and their place in it. Central Asia in the East, the Caucasus in the South, and Ukraine in the West have all emerged as spaces where Russian and US security interests and contested political values have collided. This paper suggests that the location of these states between Russia and NATO or, in the case of Central Asia, between Russia and areas of vital geostrategic interest to the US, and their historic identity as former parts of the USSR have been critical to the approaches of Russia and the US on matters of dispute in these regions including alliances, military bases, democracy, and state sovereignty. It also argues that the policies of these two states in these regions have reflected and reinforced perceptions of changing relative power in the wider international context, with US policies during the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations reflecting assumptions about, and a desire to secure, US primacy, and Russian approaches in the last decade deriving from perceptions of US hegemonic decline and the emergence of the ‘rising powers’, including Russia. For these reasons, it suggests, the South, East, and West of the post-Soviet space will continue to be an area critical to the US-Russia relationship, and thus to wider issues of international cooperation and stability.