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Title: The agency of smaller powers : Belarus in international relations
Author: Hansbury, Paul
ISNI:       0000 0004 7229 1716
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2017
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Smaller powers wield agency in the international system and they do so in many cases independently of institutions. This is problematic not only from the perspective of realism, where 'might is right,' but also from the perspective of liberalism which argues that smaller powers use institutions to obtain policy objectives. This thesis considers this problem in respect of the new states that emerged from the former Soviet Union at the end of 1991, with particular focus on Belarus which is a least-likely case for smaller power agency given its alliance with Russia and few institutional memberships. Through a detailed case study of Belarus's foreign policy, I first argue that smaller power agency has been articulated in a regional context when the smaller power withdraws its consent to the regional order. While Belarus has generally consented to Russia's regional primacy or hegemony since 1991, this consent is not unconditional, and the violation of regional interstate norms by Russia caused Belarus to make efforts to renegotiate the rules underpinning the regional order. My second, related argument is that differentiation from the regional power, Russia, proved crucial for the formulation of independent policy positions by the smaller power's officials, and, in turn, that differentiation of opinions among the smaller power's elite granted flexibility to monitor and adapt its actions (that is, allowed the smaller power to wield agency). It did so without outright provoking the regional power to intervene in the smaller power, and instead kept the regional power engaged. The findings receive tentative support from auxiliary study of other post-Soviet smaller powers, and recapitulate the merits of the neoclassical realist research agenda.
Supervisor: Macfarlane, Neil ; Allison, Roy Sponsor: Economic and Social Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available