This article analyses and compares the role and interests of Russia in three regional councils as they have evolved since the 1990s. It concludes that despite being a great power with global ambitions Russia has been willing and able to cooperate successfully with a number of small and big states on an equal basis. Since decisions are taken by consensus, all states have veto power. Russia accepts that the councils focus on so-called soft security cooperation, which is increasingly stressed in its foreign policy. In the councils, Russia has given priority to economic cooperation and tried to promote its own energy production interests, but still accepted that most other members have shown more interest in energy saving, environmental protection and climate. It has profited from a number of cooperation and research projects on Russian soil. However, in the CBSS, Russia met resistance when it took up the issues of Russian minority rights in the Baltic countries and the war on terrorism. Its recent trend towards moral conservatism may limit cooperation on social issues. In the BEAC and the AC, Russian restrictions on NGOs and political opposition hamper cooperation on indigenous issues. Still, Russia appreciates these councils, especially when relations with the EU are difficult.
This article discusses military-patriotic education in Russia, focusing on the example of the nationwide search movement. This civil movement of volunteers is searching for the remains of fallen soldiers left on the battlefields from the Second World War all over Russia. The movement has young people as a main target group, and explicitly wants to make a contribution to the patriotic upbringing of Russia's young. In this work, the movement relates to the official government plans for patriotic education. As the prefix ‘military’ often is used, patriotic education can be seen as one aspect of civil-military relations. In both the government plans and within the search movement, a distinction tends to be made between ‘good’ patriotism and ‘bad’ nationalism, and the article discusses both these notions in the Soviet/Russian context. A number of obligations are central to the notion of patriotism: for the search movement, an obligation to the past, to remember, is the most important.
Swedish military aid in defeating Napoleon and Russian support for Swedish plans to obtain Norway from Denmark comprised the essence of the «Russian-Swedish Treaty of St. Petersburg» in 1812. The treaty was confirmed by a meeting between Crown Prince Karl Johan and Tsar Alexander I in Åbo during that same autumn, at a time when Napoleon was making swift advances into Russia with his Grande Armée. «The ties of friendship and good harmony» mentioned in the treaty continued officially even after The Napoleonic Wars, throughout Karl Johan’s reign and right up to the Crimean War. In this connection it seems legitimate to ask: did Russia’s friendship with Sweden also come to include Norway? From what date are we justified in referring to Russian-Norwegian relations as something separate from Russian-Swedish relations? And what role did Russia play in relation to the Swedish-Norwegian Union, which Alexander I had helped to establish? These are questions that the present article will try to answer.