Russian Foreign Policy

Authored by: Natasha Kuhrt

Routledge Handbook of Russian Politics and Society

Print publication date:  October  2011
Online publication date:  March  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415576277
eBook ISBN: 9780203804490
Adobe ISBN: 9781136641022


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In the Putin era Russian foreign policy has excited interest on a number of levels. The last year of the Yeltsin period, 1999, was punctuated by the Kosovo crisis and renewed war in Chechnya, while in 2000, the year Putin was elected president, the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, a cornerstone of strategic stability, was abrogated by the United States (to take effect in 2002). Russian foreign policy, as distinct from Soviet foreign policy, is at one and the same time the foreign policy of a young new state and of an old empire. In international legal terms, Russia is the continuer state of the USSR; the other republics are designated as “successor states”, thereby giving Russia an elevated status in international affairs – it claimed the USSR’s seat on the UN Security Council, and Ukraine and Kazakhstan transferred all nuclear weapons on their soil to Russia. But Russia’s status as “continuer” state also highlights the continuing tension between the need to fashion a distinctive and discrete Russian foreign policy and the disinclination to completely sever Russia from the Soviet past, in particular if the latter might represent a “usable past”.

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