excluding some lands that are commonly regarded as part of Europe. The core of this region is Russia. Other parts include the Caspian basin, Central Asia and Mongolia. For centuries, this region was strongly influenced by Russia. The fall of the Soviet Union allowed several new states to emerge. Russia still sees these states as necessary allies. Moscow’s historical concern over defending Russia’s long frontiers motivates it to try to limit the influence of other large powers in this area.
Russia’s other major problem is the decreasing population of ethnic Russians versus the increasing number of Muslims in its mainland and in neighboring Central Asia. Still another challenge lies in the need to develop its vast Siberian territories, for which Russia lacks both the demographic and financial wherewithal.
Russia is striving to regain and maintain its position as a major world power.
Problematic relations with the West are forcing Moscow increasingly to align its policy and further develop economic relations with China.