Russias New Foreign Policy: Implication for International System

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2016-60-7-5-15

V. Baranovskii, Primakov Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences (IMEMO), 23, Profsoyuznaya Str., Moscow, 117997, Russian Federation (

Abstract. The changes in 2014–2015 mark the emergence of new qualitative characteristics in Russia’s foreign policy. Three major themes, separately or in various combinations, are usually considered to explain this phenomenon: (i) tactical ("defensive") response to the agenda promoted by the West; (ii) strategic ("offensive") orientation towards imposing one’s own agenda to other actors; and (iii) externalization of the domestic agenda allowing to rechallenge anti-regime criticism outward and to provide populist support to the government against real or alleged pressure from outside. Russia’s new foreign policy has been focused upon the Crimea, Ukraine and Syria. Within each of three directions, however, problems of international order at stake are significantly broader than what geopolitics implies. These are territorial issues (border change, annexation, incorporation, cessation, etc.), compliance with international treaties and agreements, validity and importance of international guarantees, unsettled problems and disputes on the territory of the former USSR (sovereignty, "frozen conflicts", Russia’s role, competitive influences of outsiders, etc.), turbulences in the Middle East (including dynamics of/within Islam), the international role of Russia in its immediate vicinities and beyond, and so on. Russia’s assertiveness during the last two years has made the country "more visible" on the radars of world politics. The price to be paid for this includes sanctions, isolation and image losses. Force projection in Syria has partly compensated for the damage inflicted by the Crimean/Ukrainian case. New emphases in Russia’s foreign policy could have various implications, affecting first of all such areas as international security, nuclear arms control and (non)proliferation, use of force, territorial and border disputes, sovereignty, (non)interference in domestic affairs. It is expedient, however, to prevent returning to the past and re-establishing attributes, norms and patterns that were rejected by the international community. On the contrary, the experience of the past could be helpful in overcoming current crisis (information, transparency, predictability, focusing on positive agenda and avoiding conflict escalation). 

Keywords: Russia's foreign policy, Crimea, war in Ukraine, international and domestic conflicts, employment of military force, international relations system 

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For citation:
Baranovsky V. Russias New Foreign Policy: Implication for International System. World Eonomy and International Relations, 2016, vol. 60, no. 7, pp. 5-15.

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