Russia and the Balkans: Foreign Policy From Yeltsin to Putin

In This Review

Russia and the Balkans: Foreign Policy From Yeltsin to Putin
By James Headley
Columbia University Press, 2008
544 pp. $105.00
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If one wants to know why it pays to dig deeply into the details of a country's foreign policy and not settle for capturing its essence with sweeping theoretical generalizations, here is a model answer. By reconstructing in detail the curve of Russian foreign policy across the Yugoslav wars and the domestic debates surrounding policy choices, while being mindful of the way Russian behavior flowed from and fed back into the evolution of the the general policy trends, Headley both illuminates an important dimension of Russian foreign policy and, more important, gives telling depth to the larger picture. Deftly and with carefully cast insight, he layers the kaleidoscope of divergent Russian views on policy in the Balkans onto the factors pushing Russian foreign policy from the "liberal-internationalism" of Boris Yeltsin's first years in power toward a harder, more assertive notion of Russian national interest, a progression that only intensified in the Putin years.