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‘An enemy at the gates’ or ‘from victory to victory’? Russian foreign policy

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Russian foreign policy reflects an evolving balance between vulnerability and opportunity. For much of President Putin's second term, Russia has been on the defensive. Despite increasing economic strength, observed in greater activity and an apparently more confident rhetorical stance, Russian diplomacy reflected a sense of vulnerability in Moscow. Indeed, diplomacy was largely inward looking: on the one hand it was a tool with which to unite and mobilize the Russian population rather than confront the West; on the other hand, it was a means of preventing external interference in Russian domestic affairs. On another level, Moscow sees an international situation destabilized by the unilateral actions of the US and an attempt by the ‘western alliance’ to assert and export its value system. But Moscow also believes that the international situation has reached a moment of transition, one which presents an opportunity for a Russia that lays claim to a global role. Russian foreign policy reflects a broad consensus in Moscow that asserts Russia's status as a leading power with legitimate interests. This moment of opportunity coincides with Moscow's desire to rethink the results of the post-Cold War period and to establish Russia as a valid international player. Continuing constraints and recognition that its domestic priorities proscribe Moscow from seeking confrontation with the West, which it cannot afford. Nonetheless, the attempt to establish the legitimacy of sovereign democracy as an international model of development appears to represent an important development in how Russia will approach wider European politics.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 2008

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