Russian Foreign Policy: The Return of Great Power Politics

The impulse behind the recent assertiveness of Russia's foreign policy, Mankoff argues, is nothing new -- only its expression and its context are. He traces it back to the Yeltsin era, when Russian leaders abandoned a liberal, pro-Western orientation and committed themselves to reestablishing Russia as a great power, unbeholden to others and ready to compete in a Hobbesian world. High oil prices and the restoration of a firm political hand have produced the impulse's current expression, but even if these pass or evolve, the impulse is here to stay. Within this framework, Mankoff explores in detail the ups and downs in U.S.-Russian relations, Russia's complex interaction with Europe, its relations with Asia, and the course of its dealings with its post-Soviet neighbors. The analysis is balanced and rich. But it may underestimate when and where Russia's behavior with its neighbors ceases to be a function of its fixation on the West and the linkage reverses, and so, too, it may underestimate the degree to which Russia's global aspirations are subordinate to its regional preoccupations.

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