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Russia’s Vaccine Diplomacy in Central Europe: Between a Political Campaign and a Business Project


Drawing on the concept of vaccine diplomacy, the article analyses Russia’s
e!orts to promote its Sputnik V vaccine and the repercussions this had in
two Central European EU member states which authorized the use of the
Russian vaccine. The authors argue that for Russia, Sputnik V promotion
was significant both as a business project and as a political enterprise, as it
was supposed to enhance Russia’s international status and help it in
overcoming its post-Crimea isolation from the West. The results were
mixed, however, as Russia’s international credibility had been undermined
by its previous policies. Thus, in Hungary the vaccine managed to gain
some traction thanks to a government that preferred importing non-EU
certified vaccines as part of its larger policy of fostering closer ties with the
authoritarian great powers in Eurasia. In Slovakia, the vaccine deal with
Russia caused a political crisis but eventually resulted in a very poor
performance of Sputnik V as compared to EU-certified vaccines.


biopolitics, COVID-19, Hungary, Russia, Slovakia, Sputnik, vaccines

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Author Biography

Aliaksei Kazharski

Aliaksei Kazharski received his PhD from Comenius University in Bratislava
(Slovakia) in 2015. He spent time as a guest researcher at the University of
Oslo (Norway), the University of Tartu (Estonia) and the Institute for Human
Sciences in Vienna (Austria). He has also been a visiting researcher at the
University of Vienna and has worked as a researcher and lecturer at Charles
University in Prague (Czech Republic) and Comenius University in Bratislava
(Slovakia). His doctoral dissertation was published by Central European
University Press as a monograph in 2019 (Eurasian Integration and the Russian World: Regionalism as an Identitary Enterprise). He has published his
articles in Geopolitics, Problems of Post-Communism, East European Politics
and Societies, and other academic journals with an international impact.

Andrey Makarychev

Andrey Makarychev is Professor of Regional Political Studies at the
University of Tartu’s Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies. In recent
years he co-authored three monographs: Celebrating Borderlands in a Wider
Europe: Nations and Identities in Ukraine, Georgia and Estonia (Nomos, 2016),
Lotman's Cultural Semiotics and the Political (Rowman and Littlefield, 2017),
and Critical Biopolitics of the Post-Soviet: From Populations to Nations
(Lexington Books, 2020). He co-edited a number of academic volumes:
Mega Events in Post-Soviet Eurasia: Shifting Borderlines of Inclusion and
Exclusion (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016), Vocabularies of International Relations
after the Crisis in Ukraine (Routledge, 2017), and Borders in the Baltic Sea
Region: Suturing the Ruptures (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017). His articles have
been published in such academic journals as Geopolitics, Problems of Post-Communism, East European Politics and Societies, and European Urban and
Regional Studies, among others.