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Article

Resisting the West, Forging Regional Consensus: Russia's Discourse on Humanitarian Cooperation in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS)

Geopolitics. 2018. Vol. 23. No. 2. P. 354-377.

The paper analyzes Russia's discourse on humanitarian cooperation in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and the changes it has undergone since the reintegration of the Crimean peninsular in March 2014. This is a particularly pertinent task, given that the discourse on humanitarian cooperation was initiated in 2005 to convey to the regional elites Russia's commitment to uphold the principles of sovereignty and non-interference and to ensure the stability of their regimes. Applying the concept of a layered discursive framework, the paper detects and discusses 3 different meanings of 'humanitarian cooperation' deployed by Russia in the context of its regional integration initiatives. Then, drawing on Laclau and Mouffe's discursive theory of antagonism and hegemony, the paper analyzes post-Crimea realignments in the CIS-oriented humanitarian discourse that help Russia to "domesticate" the incorporation of the Crimea and imbue it with meanings shared by the regional elites. It is argued that as Russia is becoming more invested in fostering a single region-wide WWII discourse, the other members of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) are likely to exercise greater autonomy vis-a-vis Russia than the concept of a sphere of influence typically suggests.