This article belongs to The big Bear named Russia theme.

Since the fall of the Soviet Empire, Russia has tried to regain some influence and credibility in a world that does not look kindly upon Russia in terms of its policies and tactics towards former Soviet republics as well towards other nations in general. These days, Russian foreign policy can only be described as antiquated dating back to an era that is clearly no longer relevant and the world, the EU in particular, is wondering in which direction Russia is travelling in terms of trade and other foreign policy matters.

Former Soviet countries went their own way despite blackmail and intimidation by Russia
Russia's reliance on gaining influence in Europe by selling oil, gas and other resources products to European countries may well be compromised should current Moscow policy settings be maintained, eventually leaving Russia to be a country that cannot be relied upon as a partner in Europe and throughout the world.

In terms of highlighting Russia's future option one must look at its Soviet past, a past that the country seems to have problems with in terms of recognising that the world has changed and that a new direction is needed.

In the Soviet era, Russia was a superpower brisling with nuclear weapons and controlling large chunks of Europe that were captured after WW2. The status of being a superpower did much for Russian pride but the superpower status also came with economic and social consequences, and sooner or later things had to change, as they eventually do. After the fall of the Soviets a lot of countries went their own way and despite Russian efforts to reverse that process through blackmail and intimidation, a substantial number of countries are fully independent without the black shadow of Russian presidents, prime ministers and indeed the Russian military looking over their collective shoulders.

The exploration of Russia's resources, in particular oil and gas, and the subsequent export of those materials to Europe as well as former Soviet republics, gave some hope that Russia could be relied upon as a truly reliable trading partner but sadly, those hopes were dashed by former Soviet pride leaving some European countries with an opinion that it might have been better to have sourced their oil and gas from elsewhere rather than from Russia.

Corruption has led to large chunks of the Russian financial capacity being controlled by criminal elements
Russia subsequently became a country where corruption is rife, where former KGB spies, and one in particular, still hold too much influence and where the notion of democracy is one of some rather ‘wishful thinking', while at the same time trying to pretend that the country is still a superpower, which clearly it no longer is.

Where to from here for the Russian state, might you ask.

First of all the country must deal with it internal problems, being the blatant corruption throughout Russian society. Corruption has led to large chunks of the Russian financial capacity being controlled by criminal elements and highly suspect wheeling and dealing by individuals who subsequently gained their riches through corrupt practices.
Russia needs to overhaul its foreign policy in terms of developing normal friendly relationships between it and former Soviet states

There is a need for Russia to concentrate on its economic well-being in terms of being able to trade its minerals and resources, with there being political consequences for those countries importing such resources.

Russia needs to overhaul its foreign policy in terms of developing normal friendly relationships between it and former Soviet states without there being pressure upon those states to reflect Russia's wishes; this applies to the Baltic states and the Ukraine in particular.

Russia needs to guarantee contracted resource supply to other, mainly European countries, without there being political strings attached.

Russia needs to review its defence policy in relation to its new status as a regional power instead of being a super power.

In return, former Soviet states need to guarantee the safety and well-being of Russian citizens that were left in those countries after the Soviet collapse. It is vital that those dual nationality and Russian citizens have the same rights and responsibilities as everyone else within any given country.

In terms of its relationships with EU countries, Russia must again guarantee oil and gas supplies as per their contracts in the absence of which EU countries should further explore other supply options as well as supply routes for their resource needs and requirements.

The EU clearly needs to foster better relations with Russia within its policy framework without having to rely on Russia for its economic well-being until such time that Russia can in fact be relied upon.

In overall terms, with the economic crisis clearly affecting the Russian economy, time has come for both the EU as well as Russia to review and modernise their relationship to the best advantage of both sides.