Document Type

Graduate Syllabus


Fall 2023



Course Number

DIPL 6405

Course Description

Discussions of possible Russian meddling in the US elections, as well as Russia’s intervention in Ukraine it present key challenges to the international community. It is impossible to approach these challenges without a broader view at the sources of foreign policy in the former Soviet area. This course will survey the main issues in the history of Soviet relations with the foreign world, as well as the new foreign policies of Russia, the other Soviet successor states, and (to a lesser extent) the East and Central European states (in particular Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Romania, and Slovakia). The first part of the course explores topics such as longstanding sources of Russian and Soviet policies pre-dating 1917, the tensions between the pursuit of revolution abroad and state-building at home as sources of Soviet foreign policy, the links between domestic reform and foreign policy initiatives in the perestroika period, and the effects of the demise of the Soviet empire on the international system. The second part of the course analyzes the international behavior of Russia and the other former Soviet and former Soviet-bloc states after 1991. As examples we will discuss the role of energy interest groups in foreign policy-making in the post-Soviet period, alternative forms of political and economic integration within the Commonwealth of Independent States, the challenges of integration into Western politico-economic (EU) and security (NATO) structures faced by the Central and East European states, and new forms of Russian “soft power” (such as those related to energy supplies) and “hard power” (such as those related to military intervention) influence. The last part of the course will be devoted to conducting, sharing and discussing original research by the students; each student will complete an original research paper on a relevant topic. In these research projects, the concepts and issues discussed throughout the course will be applied to additional cases.