2016 | 12 | 1 | 59-82
Article title

Afghanistan’s significance for Russia in the 21stCentury: Interests, Perceptions and Perspectives

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Since President Barack Obama set the end of 2014 as the deadline to complete the planned troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, numerous commentators have sought to assess Russia’s Afghan policy since September 11, 2001 and anticipate Moscow’s strategy in ‘post-2014’ Afghanistan. This paper maintains that an assessment/evaluation of Afghanistan’s significance for Russia in the current system of international relations is needed to understand Moscow’s current and future Afghan strategy. Hence, the aim of this study is to identify and analyse the major factors, which lead to a conceptualization of Russia’s interests in Afghanistan. When assessing Russia’s interests in Afghanistan, one must take into account a plethora of significant issues, including Putin’s ‘great-power’ rhetoric; geopolitical, geostrategic, and geo-economic rivalries in the wider region; security threats such as the illegal narcotics emanating from Afghanistan and global terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism; the rivalry and competition for energy resources; and control over pipeline routes and energy corridors. The analysis of these substantiating factors demonstrate why in the 21st century the Afghan problem remains a significant challenge to Russia’s ‘great power’ identity, to its international strategy abroad, to its strategically important ‘near abroad,’ and to the country’s domestic socio-economic policy
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