The Shanghai Cooperation Organization

Authored by: Maria Raquel Freire

Routledge Handbook of Russian Foreign Policy

Print publication date:  March  2018
Online publication date:  March  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138690448
eBook ISBN: 9781315536934
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter looks at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and what has been Russia’s role within and towards the Organization. Centered around the idea of multilateralism following the principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity and non-interference, the ‘Shanghai Spirit’ became the cornerstone to the Organization’s functioning, together with consensus decision-making and the politically binding character of decisions. The development of the SCO shows two interlinked trends, which the chapter explores: Russia’s positioning within the SCO is motivated mainly by considerations of regional stability, with a strong emphasis on the security agenda, but Russia is only partially successful in advancing its stability driven agenda given China’s growing economic weight and preferences. In fact, Russia’s enlargement policy, which has been part of the strategy to counter China, has revealed serious limits to Moscow’s approach. The chapter starts by mapping the literature on the SCO and Russia, identifying main approaches and issues, analyzing the role of Russia within the Organization, as well as its expectations and limitations, and concludes by suggesting avenues for future research.

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