CIS integration under Yevgeny Primakov
This chapter analyses the second Yeltsin Presidency, and more specifically the years that Yevgeny Primakov became first Foreign Minister and then Prime Minister of Russia. It examines the changes that were introduced in Russia’s foreign policy, not only in relation to the former Soviet space, but also towards the West as a whole. It shows how with Primakov the country’s foreign policy became more articulate, better organised, and no longer the object of fierce debate among political parties and interest groups. The focus turned to top priority issues, such as managing relations with the West, responding to NATO’s enlargement, resolving ethno-territorial conflicts along Russia’s southern and western periphery, and deepening CIS integration, primarily with those countries most willing to cooperate with Russia. Emphasis was placed on strengthening the Russian state, enhancing the country’s position and influence in the international arena, and promoting a multipolar world order, where Russia would play a leading role. The chapter also examines, in great detail, Russia’s policies towards the CIS in the military and economic field, and concludes that despite Russia’s rhetoric and desires, it had neither the capacity nor the willingness to create a neo-empire in the CIS space.