Russian Foreign Policy in the Twenty-first Century and the Shadow of the Past / Edition 1

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Because the turbulent trajectory of Russia's foreign policy since the collapse of the Soviet Union echoes previous moments of social and political transformation, history offers a special vantage point from which to judge the current course of events.

In this book, a mix of leading historians and political scientists examines the foreign policy of contemporary Russia over four centuries of history. The authors explain the impact of empire and its loss, the interweaving of domestic and foreign impulses, long-standing approaches to national security, and the effect of globalization over time.

Contributors focus on the underlying patterns that have marked Russian foreign policy and that persist today. These patterns are driven by the country's political makeup, geographical circumstances, economic strivings, unsettled position in the larger international setting, and, above all, its tortured effort to resolve issues of national identity. The argument here is not that the Russia of Putin and his successors must remain trapped by these historical patterns but that history allows for an assessment of how much or how little has changed in Russia's approach to the outside world and creates a foundation for identifying what must change if Russia is to evolve.

A truly unique collection, this volume utilizes history to shed crucial light on Russia's complex, occasionally inscrutable relationship with the world. In so doing, it raises the broader issue of the relationship of history to the study of contemporary foreign policy and how these two enterprises might be better joined.

Columbia University Press

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Editorial Reviews

RUSI Journal
[A] great, thumping, satisfying book about the mainsprings of Russian foreign policy.

— Sir Rodric Braithwaite, British Ambassador in Moscow, 1988-92

Slavic Review
A major work that needs to be read by those interested in where Russia might be headed over the coming decades.

— Peter C. Pozefsky

Sir; RUSI Journal - Rodric Braithwaite
[A] great, thumping, satisfying book about the mainsprings of Russian foreign policy.
Slavic Review - Peter C. Pozefsky
A major work that needs to be read by those interested in where Russia might be headed over the coming decades.
RUSI Journal - Sir Rodric Braithwaite
[A] great, thumping, satisfying book about the mainsprings of Russian foreign policy.
Foreign Affairs

Analysts who generalized about Russia's foreign policy from the peculiar circumstances of the 1990s now look silly. Those currently writing about Russia's mighty resurgence based on the peculiar circumstances of the first years of this century can expect a similar fate. What about some history? Such is the exceptionally welcome proposition of this hefty collaborative volume, dedicated to the recently deceased diplomat and Russia hand Marshall Shulman. Several of the eight contributors lose sight of the difference between narration of historical detail (however expertly done) and the use of history to analyze current affairs. Overlapping coverage from essay to essay affords multiple angles on Russia, but there is little systematic comparison. Alfred Rieber furnishes the collection's centerpiece with a reprise of his brilliant 1993 article on the "persistent factors" affecting Russian behavior: relative economic backwardness, vulnerable frontiers, a multinational composition, and alienation from the West (and the East). Celeste Wallander offers perhaps the freshest perspective, a romp through a thousand years of Russian responses to globalization. She illuminates the "long pedigree" of the country's foreign policy under Putin, which seeks to reap economic benefits from globalism while blocking out the political effects. For Wallander, that high-wire act must crash. But for David McDonald, Russia's revived absolutist state may be more adaptable than given credit. That would upset Legvold, the volume's editor, who argues that Russia poses a special challenge to Europe and the United States because it is undemocratic.<

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231141222
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 3/20/2007
  • Series: Studies of the Harriman Institute, Colum
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 544
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert Legvold is Marshall D. Shulman Professor of Political Science at Columbia University where he specializes in the study of the foreign policies of Russia and the other post-Soviet states. He is particularly interested in the interaction between these states and Asia, Europe, and the United States.

Columbia University Press

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Table of Contents


1. Living in the Hood: Russia, Empire, and Old and New NeighborsRonald Grigor Suny

2. Russian Foreign Policy Durgaing Periods of Great State TransformationRobert Legvold

3. Domestic Conjunctures, the Russian State, and the World Outside, 1700-2006David McDonald

4. How Persistent Are Persistent Factors? Alfred J. Rieber

5. Russian Concepts of National SecurityLawrence T. Caldwell

6.Russia in Northeast Asia: In Search of a StrategyGilbert Rozman

7. Reluctant Europeans: Three Centuries of Russian Ambivalence Toward the WestAngela Stent

8. Global Challenges and Russian Foreign PolicyCeleste A. Wallander


Columbia University Press

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Customer Reviews

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( 1 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 21, 2007

    Good topic, not so good communication author's to readers

    For those studying Russian foreign policy, this is a good title and a good topic, which is why I still rated this work a four. While I must, with all due respect to all involved in the writing of this book, admire and recognize the multi authors education level and apparent knowledge of this topic, the lofty diction, long run together sentances, and half page thoughts make reading and understanding the information in this work very difficult. The authors more than qualify themselves with their knowledge of this topic. It was how they chose to deliver and say what they mean that could have used some work. I'm suprised that the publisher did not suggest different delivery to the authors and strongly suggest simplification. Still, good information, just difficult reading!!

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