Russia's search for an identity
January-March 2017
By: Taehwan Kim

  Russian Foreign Policy: Change and Continuity in National Identity 
By Andrei P Tsygankov
(Rowman & Littlefield, 2016, 336 pp)

Reviewed by
Taehwan Kim

Relations between the West and Russia have become more tense since Moscow’s annexation of Crimea and the crisis in the Ukraine. One recent manifestation of these tensions was evidenced by a NATO summit in Warsaw in July 2016, where it was proclaimed that Russia and NATO were no longer strategic partners.

Immediately after the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989, many had hoped the then-Soviet Union would quickly emerge as a market economy and democracy, with special relationships with Western nations. The reality proved different, however, with Moscow’s political regime turning out to be neither democratic nor its foreign policy pro-Western. Many pundits now contend that a “New Cold War” has already started.

What went wrong? How can we explain the discrepancy between the early expectations and the reality of today’s Russia, in general, and its increasingly assertive foreign policy, in particular? Some essentialists see the inherent anti-Westernism that is deeply rooted in Russian history as the fundamental source of Russia’s foreign behavior. Hawkish realists complete the circle, advocating inevitable, or desirable, containment of Russia.

National identity and foreign policy

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