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Putin's Choice: The Russian President and the Reset

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Abstract:

There has been much speculation as to the extent of the reset of Russia-US relations, and whether it can withstand Vladimir Putin's return to the Russian presidency. This paper considers the motivations for the reset, some critical challenges to it, and ultimately confirms concerns that Putin's return could negatively influence the reset's chances for lasting success. In doing so, the paper examines the importance of both agency and structure as influences on Russian foreign policy making; a strong Russian president can personally influence foreign policy in ways his American counterpart does not similarly enjoy. Russia's strong executive enables Putin to have a personal impact upon foreign policy generally, and on Russia-US relations specifically, thereby rendering any assessment of the reset's staying power heavily dependent upon the commitment of the Russian president himself. Previously, Putin has influenced —and set back—relations with the US, and the question now is whether this is likely to happen again. If the reset is to succeed, it will ultimately be Putin's choice.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 2013

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  • The St Antony's International Review (STAIR) is the only peer-reviewed journal of international affairs at the University of Oxford. Set up by graduate students of St Antony's College in 2005, the Review has carved out a distinctive niche as a cross-disciplinary outlet for research on the most pressing contemporary global issues, providing a forum in which emerging scholars can publish their work alongside established academics and policymakers. Past contributors include Robert O. Keohane, James N. Rosenau, and Alfred Stepan.
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