The Methodology used in this study is that of historical case studies, involving the comparison of three different conflicts where Russia was militarily involved – the separatist wars between Moldova and Transnistria, Georgia and Abkhazia and the civil war in Tajikistan (Jackson:3). The background material collected before carrying out the detailed case study analysis is an identification of the broad ideas about foreign policy that formed the foundation for the formulation of the views of the Russian political elite and based upon this, the narrow policy implications for foreign policy relations with the states that were once part of the erstwhile Soviet Union. The major stages in the evolution of this debate are also examined, divided into three distinct historical periods, each with different results in terms of foreign policy.In applying the case study approach, the methodology of this study does not restrict itself to only one theoretical approach or model. It incorporates insights offered by various sources and approaches in order to determine the ideas of significance in Russian foreign policy (Jackson, 23). Did these ideas develop during periods of crisis when the evolution of new beliefs is favored in order to solve problems? Did foreign policy evolve and change because of the lessons learned and experience gained by the Russian political elite? The author has taken different ideas, views, and perspectives on foreign policy into consideration, to explore whether they led to the development of a consensus or a policy framework that limited the introduction of Western ideas and was premised to a much greater extent upon the development of nationalist ideas and interests.This assessment also takes into account the constraints existing in the environment at the time of the conflict, so that an assessment could be made about how much uncertainty existed in terms of providing room for debate about foreign policy choices.

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