In a recent blog post in Exploring Geopolitics Dr. Padraig Caromody of TCD Geography discusses Vladimir Putin’s expansionist foreign policy in the context of the current model of global economic integration. In an insightful and stimulating post Dr. Carmody states that “a new spectre haunts Europe currently – communism’s ghost or more precisely a type of ghost geopolitics.”
The new spectre takes the form of the policies pursued by Vladimir Putin in his attempt to re-establish Russia as a major power, which in some cases includes the annexation of nearby lands. Dr. Carmody outlines that “there is a contradiction at the heart of Putinism as an autonomous “foreign policy” may not be compatible with global economic and financial integration,” with the outcome of this now finding expression in Russia. The current context is very different to the past as “financial and trade integration exert greater influence than Putin had perhaps bargained for.” Globalisation bring a reduction to inter-state wars and the result is that “territorial forms of power are no longer independent of non-territorial forms of power, if they ever were.” The result of Putin’s expansionist policy has been the suspension of services of international financial companies in Crimea to comply with sanctions.
The falling price of oil and the reduction in value of the rouble, along with rising inflation and interest rates in Russia means “a question remains around the stability and longevity of President Putin’s regime in light of the economic crisis.” While Putin’s “domestic authoritarianism” has been relatively successful to date, “these domestic policies did not deter transnational investment in other sectors, military expansionism and Western sanctions do.” Apple, for example, have suspending sales in Russia due to the rapid fall of the rouble which means profit margins cannot be known. Dr. Carmody discusses that current theories and analyses neglect the geopolitical power of transnational capital, and that it may be this that exerts the most pressure on Putin, rather that state actors.
“The structural power of transnational capital is opposed to the kinds of geopolitics which President Putin is currently pursuing… President Putin has attempted to reverse the geopolitical expansion of the West in Russia’s near abroad. However, it seems unlikely that he can ‘successfully’ pursue a relatively autonomous, militaristic foreign policy in the context of globalisation. Either the current model of global economic integration for Russia or Putin’s expansionist/reactive foreign policy will have to give.”