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32

DECEMBER 2016

|

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL

When it comes to the Soviet successor nations, economic and commercial diplomacy

is a particularly important part of the U.S. foreign policy playbook.

Michael A. Lally is deputy assistant secretary of Commerce

for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. A Senior For-

eign Service officer, his assignments have included Kyiv,

Almaty, Baku, Philadelphia, Mexico City and Ankara. In

2017, he will become minister counselor for commercial affairs at U.S.

Embassy Moscow, covering the Eurasian region. The views expressed

herein are solely the author’s and do not necessarily reflect U.S. govern-

ment policy. Comments welcome at

michaellally@hotmail.com

.

A

fter a decade-plus focus on coun-

terterrorism and the Middle East,

U.S. and European policymakers

have begun to pivot attention back

to Russia and Eurasia, where the

rise of Russian autocratic national-

ism and Moscow’s aggression in

Ukraine have caused jitters from

the Baltics to Central Asia. As the

ON RUSSIA

Kremlin looks to project power and influence, political and

military considerations will continue to dominate policymaker

bandwidth on Russia and Eurasia. However, the United States

should make increasing use of one of the sharpest instruments

in its policy toolbox: the strength of our economic system.

While Soviet successor states have achieved varying levels

of economic independence in the past quarter-century, many

have, more or less, repudiated the central planning of the

past, and look instead to a free market model. For example,

Ukraine’s 2014 Maidan demonstrations were triggered by for-

mer President Viktor Yanukovych’s decision to walk away from

an Association Agreement with the European Union that would

have deepened trade and investment ties.

In their protest, Ukrainians stood not for a free trade area per

se, but for a European future with political pluralism, jobs and

opportunity. The Baltic countries, with a strong national memory

of independence, seized on economic reform and E.U. and

NATO memberships to build competitive economies. Almost all

SOMETHING

HAPPENED

ON THE WAY

TO THE MARKET

THE ECONOMIC STATE

OF THE FORMER U.S.S.R.

BY M I CHAE L A . LAL LY

FOCUS