Between Two Worlds
MetadataShow full item record
The presented study looks at pivots in the foreign policy of buffer states. Some countries have lost that status after opting relatively quickly for an international sphere of influence. By looking at the cases of Belarus and Ukraine, this research has helped to provide insights into what has influenced pivots in the foreign policy of former buffer states. The results of these case studies show that pivots are significantly influenced by international normative power. Sanctions and territorial annexations push states away from the initiator, while incentives through political and economic benefits show positive effects. Policy documents and statements by international actors indicate that in the Belarus case, president Lukashenka and normative power both played a major role in choosing Russia as the main international partner. Opting for that side allowed the president to realise his aspirations to consolidate power, which was impossible to combine with the norms and values of the European Union. Simultaneously, the EU halted all diplomatic negotiations with Belarus. It provided too few economic or political reasons for Lukashenka to abandon his quest for more domestic power. On the other hand, Russia was not so bothered by this. It saw opportunities and in turn did offer political and economic deals. As for the Ukraine case, the results of policy documents and a discourse analysis show that Russia was not keen on Ukraine's aspirations to integrate with Europe. Russia decided to take advantage of the emerging political instability and polarisation in Ukraine, and annexed Crimea. This annexation, combined with harsh Russian diplomacy drove Ukraine towards the European Union, which this time stood ready with treaties and agreements. Again, the results show that normative power with a negative approach pushes countries away, and positive incentives instead attract countries. This research contributes to a deeper understanding about the actions of buffer states and, in particular, the loss of that status. It shows the role and use of international normative power and how that strategy may or may not achieve its goals, particularly for the cases of Belarus and Ukraine.