POL 376

International Politics in the Post-Soviet Area

Dr. W. J. Lukaszewski         Fall 2006


Between 1989 and 1991 the Soviet empire disintegrated and, out of its vastness, emerged fifteen independent states inhabited by populations with very different cultures, histories, and levels of development. In addition, the states of Central and Eastern Europe, which had been Russia 's satellites, also regained their full independence. Since the momentous events of 1989-1991, Russia, which had been the “owner” of the Soviet empire, has found it difficult to define precisely its own identity (is it a traditional nation-state or an empire; is it a European country or a Eurasian state), and until recently, has been unsure of its place on the international arena (relations with former Soviet republics, with Europe, and with the rest of the world). However with the sharp rise in energy prices, Russia , as a significant energy exporter, has become much more assertive and has apparently chosen again to contest US position in the world. Even without its empire, Russia is still a very large country (stretches across eight time-zones) and has large deposits of energy resources, which are in such high demand around the world. Its nuclear arsenal, though aging, is still second only to that of the United States .


In this course, therefore, we will be studying an increasingly important international player which, not unlike in the past, is largely a one-dimensional power, i.e., basing its enhanced global influence primarily on one resource, energy. Russia 's imperial past and communist experience will be the natural and necessary points of departure. The main part of the course will consist of a thorough review of Russia 's tortuous transition from its communist mould to a still evolving post-Soviet system as well as of an in-depth examination of its relations with former Soviet republics, Central and Eastern Europe , NATO, the EU, and other power centers of the global community. Based on past as well as more recent evidence, we will try to anticipate the direction of Russia 's future evolution.


1.   The following two textbooks have been selected for this course:

  BUGAJASKI, Janusz, Cold Peace: Russia's New Imperialism , Praeger, 2004.

  SMITH, Graham, The Post-Soviet States : Mapping the Politics of Transition ,, Oxford       University Press, 1999.




  Balmaceda, Margarita M., On the Edge: Ukrainian – Central European – Russian Security      Triangle , Budapest : Central European Press, 2000.

  Brzezinski, Zbigniew, The Grand Failure , New York : Carles Scribner's Hous, 1989

  d'Encause, Helene Carrere, The End of the Soviet Empire: The Triumph of the Nations ,       Basic Books, 1993.


  Newspapers and Periodicals:




  The Central and Eastern European Online Library

  The Moscow Times




  Each student's final grade will be based on:

  a.   three essay examinations

  b.   a written research project

  c.   participation in class discussions


3.   Office Consultations

  Students are welcome to consult with the professor on any aspect of the course. My office is located in AB1, Room 315F, telephone ext. 1468; office hours: Monday, 1 – 5 p.m., Tuesday and Thursday, 2:00 – 3:30 p.m. or before or after class..


4.   Attendance Policy

  Students will be expected to attend every class. However, for emergency purposes, each student will be permitted to miss four classes without penalty. Every additional absence will cost the student one half of letter grade.


5.   Student's Responsibility

  Students will be held responsible for all information given in class whether or not they are present during the lecture.


6.   Academic Honesty

  All students are expected to engage in all academic pursuits in a manner that is above reproach. Students are expected to maintain complete honesty and integrity in the academic work both in and out of the classroom.


7.   Classroom Rules of Conduct

  a.   Students are expected to behave themselves in classroom in a way which promotes their   own learning, does not interfere with the lecture in progress, and does not disturb other   students in the classroom.


  b.   Cell phones, pagers, and other electronic equipment will not be permitted in class   during examinations.


  c.   Students will be excused from attending this class, including examinations, for the   observance of religious holidays, including travel for that purpose. (Religious holiday   is defined as “a holy day observed by a religion whose places of worship are exempt   from property taxation under Section 11.20, Texas Code…)


  d.   Students wishing to record lectures in this class for their own study purposes may do so,   providing they inform the instructor in advance.


  e.   Students may not bring visitors to the class without prior approval of the instructor.


8.   Disabilities Policy : It is the policy of Sam Houston State University that individuals   otherwise qualified shall not be excluded, solely by reason of their disability, from   participationin any academic program of the university. Further, they shall not be denied the   benefits of these programs nor shall they be subjected to discrimination. Students with   disabilities that might affect their academic performance should visit with the Office of   Services for Students with Disabilities located in the Counseling Center .






1.   Introduction and Organization of the Course   Aug. 23


2.   Points of Departure: the Tsars and the Commissars   Aug. 23

  Smith , Ch. 2


3.   The Challenges of Transition   Aug. 30

  Smith , Ch. 1


4.   Russia 's Struggles with Identity   Sept. 6

  Smith , Ch. 3, pp. 118-125, 128-138, 143-147


5.   The Borderland States   Sept. 13

  Bugajski , Ch. 1

  Smith , Ch. 4


6.   Geopolitics, Economics, and the CIS   Sept. 13

  Smith , Ch. 7




7.   Russia 's Foreign Policy Arsenal   Sept. 27

  Bugajski , Ch. 2


8.   Retaining the Union   Oct. 4

  Bugajski , Ch. 3


9.   Repairing the Empire   Oct. 11

  Bugajski , Ch. 4


10.   Blocking the West   Oct. 18

  Bugajski , Ch. 5


11.   Neutralizing Central Europe   Oct. 25

  Bugajski , Ch. 6




12.   Exploiting Crises in the Balkans   Nov. 8

  Bugajski , Ch. 7



13.   Exporting Influence   Nov. 15

  Bugajski , Ch. 8


14.   Nothing New? Projections   Nov. 29

  Bugajski , Ch. 9

  Smith , Ch. 9


15.   Conclusions and Review   Dec. 6


FINAL     Dec. 13