Russia’s Normative Influence over Post-Soviet States: The Examples of Belarus and Ukraine

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Debate as to the relationship between law and power in Russia has long focused on the study of hard power. Adopting the work done on soft power in the sphere of American political science, and as part of a legal analysis, we wish to show that Russia has also developed her own soft power based in part on a strategy of normative influence. Law is thus part of a trend in regaining power that has previously been lost. Admittedly this strategy is not, in itself, the preserve of Russia, as is shown by the European Union’s own use of the same approach. The fact remains, however, that there are aspects specific to Russia. Indeed, it may be possible to isolate three types of normative influence in Russia, the construction of which is linked, in part, to her history. Firstly, there is the normative legacy of the Soviet Union. A direct consequence of history, Russia has set about making that legacy bear fruit or, at the very least, ensuring that it is not fundamentally challenged. Secondly, and particularly by relying on the CIS’s institutional and political springboards, Russia has succeeded in promoting the normative alignment of those countries that she seeks to influence, which we have termed the promotion of normative convergence. Thirdly, and with greater vigour, Russia now promotes a veritable normative expansion that is increasingly based on a fait accompli rather than persuasion. These are the three  types of influence that we propose to examine in this article, limiting the legal analysis to two countries that are directly concerned with this strategy: Ukraine and Belarus.

About the Author

Hugo Flavier
University of Bordeaux

Associate Professor of Public Law and European Law,

Bordeaux IV, Centre de Recherche et Documentation Européen et International (CRD EI) (16 Avenue Léon Duguit, Pessac, 33608, France)


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Supplementary files

For citation: Flavier H. Russia’s Normative Influence over Post-Soviet States: The Examples of Belarus and Ukraine. Russian Law Journal. 2015;3(1):6-32.

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