- NBR - The National Bureau of Asian Research

Russia: Strategic Partner or Evil Empire

Stephen E. Hanson

To understand Russian foreign policy goals after September 11 requires us to take much more seriously a factor generally downplayed in previous analyses: namely, debates among Russian elites concerning what it means for Russia to be a "great power" in contemporary world politics. From this perspective, Putin’s emphasis on "rebuilding the state" in order to restore Russia to its rightful global position has not only domestic but also foreign policy implications. If ways can be found to satisfy Putin’s aspirations to restore Russia’s status as a great power within the context of existing international institutions, cooperation with the West on vital security issues is likely to continue. If not, Putin’s increasingly authoritarian statism could eventually set the stage for a more xenophobic and aggressive articulation of Russian foreign policy goals.