Looking East and West: the shifting concepts of Russia’s borders with CIS countries and the EU
This chapter traces shifts in political conceptualisations of Russia’s borders since 1991. The primary method for accomplishing this study was through the application of the bordering paradigm, which was interpreted in the broadest sense, taking into consideration the shifting qualities of Russia’s ‘stateness’ and positionality as reflected in relations to new post-Soviet and established states. The analysis shows that the process of bordering in Russia has been determined by the nature of relations between ‘western’ and ‘eastern’ geopolitical concerns. A new aspect of the dominant border-related discourse is the link between integration in the post-Soviet space and the framing of the west as a potential threat. The relations with the west are increasingly considered as a zero-sum game based on harsh geopolitical competition. These trends have led to a hardening of Russia’s western boundaries and a sharp deterioration of mutual relations reflected in political discourse, public opinion, the freezing of joint projects, and an increasing emphasis on security. Nevertheless, cross-border programmes remain one of few fields where cooperation continues. © 2019 selection and editorial matter.