Russia’s Position in World Politics in 2016: Foreign Strategy Challenges and Prospects


In politics, conflicts emerge from a change in the balance of power and destruction of the status quo. The collapse of regimes in Ukraine and in the Middle East created low-pressure zones, drawing neighboring countries into the regional storm. Having found itself in a hurricane, Moscow made its choice. It could have lowered its sails and followed the wind, but it preferred to keep to its course even if it meant sailing against the wind. Moscow’s offensive had its achievements: Russia is holding the initiative and managing crises wisely for its own purposes. However, in recent months Russia missed at least two sensitive blows. The first was miscalculating the consequences of the public protests in Kyiv in late 2014; the second was underestimating the risk of a Turkish military provocation during Russia’s Syrian operation. However cautious Moscow is in its foreign policy, blind spots trouble every experienced operator. Modern Russia is a status quo player focused predominantly on its nearest neighbors. Neither Russian security priorities nor its resources can compel Moscow to project power beyond one thousand kilometers from its borders. When Russia sees the security environment around it as certain and predictable, it feels no need for intervention. But when uncertainty arises and a crisis occurs, Russia responds forcefully. Understanding how Russia prioritizes its security challenges and how it assesses the security situation on its borders is a start to clearing up much of the uncertainty in Eurasia today. This analysis focuses on critical situations that may develop this year into vital challenges to Russian interests, triggering a response from Moscow.

Key words: Russian foreign political strategy; Russian international position; Russia’s conflict with the West; Russian operation in Syria; Nagorno-Karabakh conflict; Ukrainian crisis; security in Asia Pacific; international terrorism.

Authors: Andrey Bezrukov, Mikhail Mamonov, Sergey Markedonov, Andrey Sushentsov

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