Date of Award

5-22-2016

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Department

Russian

First Advisor

Alyssa DeBlasio

Language

English, Russian

Abstract

This purpose of this thesis paper, which had originally been written for the Russian Department at Dickinson College, was meant to be both an analytical and informational approach to current developing international relations trends between Russia – a reemerging regional power, and Latin America, a vigorously developing area of the world where more influence is growing. While critical and skeptical of the American foreign policy decisions made since the Monroe Doctrine of 1823, the most significant aspect about it is how the March 2014 UN vote on the Crimea Referendum on whether to condone or reject Russia’s annexation of the breakaway Republic of Crimea had far-reaching implications in Latin America.

In 2014, the outbreak of civil conflict in Ukraine pitted pro-Russia, Eastern Ukrainian separatists (located in Donetsk and Luhansk) who supported the ousted but democratically-elected Viktor Yanukovich government against the pro-Western, Western Ukrainian government of Petro Poroshenko. The Poroshenko Administration had come to power on the back of a wave of popular discontent against the Yanukovich Administration after it had failed to sign an economic and political cooperation treaty with the EU – a move Russia saw as encroachment upon their traditional sphere of influence. In response to the rapidly deteriorating internal situation, Russia began assisting the separatist elements in Eastern Ukraine, as well as eventually annexing the Crimean peninsula after it was militarily secured.

This latest assertive action of foreign policy taken by the Russian state is one in a series of increasingly aggressive measures to reassert the country’s position on the world stage as relevant and powerful. However, these actions received total condemnation from Europe and the US – beginning rounds of sanctions and worsening diplomatic relations up to today. The Crimea vote held by the UN symbolized that condemnation across much of the globe, but more interestingly, pointed to an area where Russian activism has been a success – Latin America. Across the region, core allies such as Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua voted in favor of Russia’s annexation. More surprisingly, the regional powerhouses of Brazil and Argentina abstained from voting like several other countries. While an abstention may appear to be outwardly insignificant, given the context it is one of the best signs of the success of Russian foreign policy in Latin America. Rather than willingly taking a stance against Russia by falling into line with the vote of their hegemonic, northern neighbor, countries such as Brazil and Argentina exercised their political autonomy, and desire to maintain developing relations with Russia.

Due to new Russian economic markets opening (from Western sanctions), the desire to open new military bases in the Latin America, and political maneuverings to make Latin America more relevant and autonomous from US influence, Russia and Latin American countries have increasingly demonstrated their desire for a long-lasting and mutually beneficial alliance, uniformly and not on a scale not before seen between Russia and any other region of the world.