The Bear Next Door: Russia and the Near Abroad


Jaimy M. Wood

Date of Graduation

Spring 2004


Master of Science in Defense and Strategic Studies


Defense and Strategic Studies

Committee Chair

William Van Cleave


Russian imperialism is a fact documented throughout history. Yet awareness of its continuance in the modern era has been insufficient. This project seeks to draw attention to this intrinsic, yet often unnoticed, Russian trait and to determine the implications of Russian imperialism in the twenty-first century. Exercising power by hegemonic means is innate to the Russian state. This work will determine the continuity between the views of the Russian Empire and the Russian Federation regarding its resources of wealth: its territory and power. It will be shown that claims made on the territory of the former Russian Empire as well as that of the Former Soviet Union are indicative of such a continuance. This project will also focus on the degree to which the Near Abroad is a point of continuity in the Russian idea of power and empire. This will test the hypothesis that the Near Abroad is, and will continue to be, of interest to Russia; thus it may be suppressed and reabsorbed. A case study on the Republic of Georgia will be conducted to reveal the reasons for and examples of modern Russian hegemony. Russia's actions in Georgia may well be warnings to other former Soviet republics that looking west rather than north is intolerable. Imperialism, a Near Abroad, and hegemony are not new ideas to Russia. Rather, Russia has sought and, to a large degree, has maintained its medieval empire by activating these ideas. Russia's actions regarding the Near Abroad and Georgia are not incongruent with its past. They may well indicate the continuity of Russian imperialism into the twenty-first century.


Russia, imperialism, Near Abroad, Vladimir Putin, Georgia

Subject Categories

Defense and Security Studies


© Jaimy M. Wood