Russian Foreign Policy in Transition: Concepts and Realities

Russian Foreign Policy in Transition: Concepts and Realities

Russian Foreign Policy in Transition: Concepts and Realities

Russian Foreign Policy in Transition: Concepts and Realities


Russian international relations has undergone profound changes in the last fifteen years that have effected both the Russian view of the world and the outside perspective of the Russian Federation. These changes will undoubtedly play an integral part of Russian foreign relations for years to come. And yet the question remains, how has Russian influence adapted to the post-Soviet world order? In this critical analysis, Andrei Melville sheds light on the complexities of Russian foreign policy from 1991 to 2004. Divided into three parts, the book presents official translated documents in the first section that outline, among other things, the formation of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), the military doctrine of the Russian Federation, and the agreement on security and cooperation between NATO and Russia. These documents are an essential first step in understanding the shape and context of Russian foreign policy from the demise of the Soviet Union up to the present. The second section of the book is composed of official statements from Russian leaders who are seeking to define the next generation of Russian international relations. Among the statements is Vladimir Putin's illuminating essay on Russia at the turn of the century. It is here where Putin defines the Russian policy of a strong state, efficient economy, and social solidarity. In addition, former Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov provides a statement on the hopes and obstacles for international relations in the 21st century. The authors of the remaining three papers have also served as Prime Ministers of foreign ministers in the Russian government during the past decade. The final section of the book is composed of analysis from scholars and Russian foreign policy experts. The analysis addresses a wide range of topics from the crisis in Kosovo to Russian-Chinese relations. Here, the official documents, statements, and policies of the Russian Federation are cast in a different light, bringing to surface the tough questions, the challenges, and the promises that face Russian foreign policy in the future. Putin's "new course" or "foreign policy therapy" is analyzed by specialists who observe their subject at short range.


Andrei Melville with Tatiana Shakleina

From a broad historical perspective, a 10–15 year spell of time is not very long. However, if this time span happens to embrace profound changes in the social and political spheres, considerable shifts in public values, and transformational processes on a global scale, then the period can certainly be regarded as of special significance.

The last decade of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century can be seen as just such a period of dramatic social perturbations. The collapse of communism, the disintegration of the bipolar world order, the downfall of the Soviet state system, and Russia's proclaimed reorientation towards freedom and democracy are among the world's most momentous events. The deep transformations in question are of special importance for Russia. Indeed, these changes have affected more than just specific aspects of Russia's domestic and foreign policies. They have had an impact on the very essence of Russian selfconsciousness and self-identity, and upon common beliefs in the country's role and place in the world.

The scale and nature of the changes happening beneath our very eyes in Russian domestic and foreign policy can be adequately appreciated only by carrying out impartial and thorough analysis. Naturally, first and foremost, any researcher has to examine the actual transformations—whether in Russia's domestic or foreign policy—giving due regard to detail, on the one hand, and the broad context of the ongoing developments, on the other. However, familiarity with these policies as they are specifically represented and justified in strategic documents, the presentations of political leaders and state officials, and in the writings of scholars and analysts may prove to be no less important and insightful for scholarly and practical purposes. As a matter of fact, this is precisely what we had in mind when we embarked on this anthology, which deals with the Russian foreign policy outlook in the crucial period of 1991–2004.

1 The Russian-language reader Foreign Policy and Security of Contemporary Russia was
published in 2002 (Moscow, ROSSPEN).

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