Russia in the Changing Global Order: Multipolarity, Multilateralism, and Sovereignty

  • André GerritsEmail author
Part of the United Nations University Series on Regionalism book series (UNSR, volume 17)


With a reference to Russia’s size and location, its unique history and culture, and its massive economic and military resources Russia claims a prominent role in the current world order. The foreign policy strategy which Russia’s post-communist leadership developed from this worldview, has generally been pragmatic and re-active. More recently, partly due to developments beyond Russia’s influence and partially as a result of political and economic changes in Russia itself, the country’s foreign policies have become more self-confident, more assertive and more offensive, initially especially in its own environment but later also beyond its sphere of influence. Russia is a revisionist power, but with a strongly conservative streak. Multipolarity is Russia’s major foreign policy ambition, one that is based on competition and cooperation among sovereign great powers. Russia demands the right to be included, but it also wants to stand apart. Russia is strongly in favour of multilateralism, but preferably a multilateralism for the few, Russia included.


Russia Multipolarity Multilateralism Sovereignty Revisionism Global order Pragmatism Geopolitics 

Further Reading

  1. Russian foreign policy is the topic of a dazzling number of academic and policy-related studies. The interested reader may begin with the series of brilliant essays in Russian Foreign Policy in the Twenty-First Century and the Shadow of the Past, edited by Robert Legvold (2007). The book offers fascinating insights into the longer-term, historical continuities of Russian foreign policy. Robert Donaldson, Joseph Nogee and Vidya Nadkarni (2014, fifth edition) present a well-structured, balanced and chronological overview of Russia’s international policies in The Foreign Policy of Russia. Changing Systems, Enduring Interests. The best study of Putin’s foreign policies is Russia and the New World Disorder by Bobo Lo (2015). The book is topical, thorough and admirably objective.Google Scholar


  1. Adomeit, H. (2007). Inside or outside? Russia’s policies towards NATO. Paper delivered to the annual conference of the Centre for Russian Studies at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI) on “The Multilateral Dimension in Russian Foreign Policy”, Oslo, October 12–13, Revised December 20, 2006.Google Scholar
  2. Alberts, Hannah Claire (2016). Russia’s OSCE policy and the Ukraine crisis: Renewed interest, enduring approach. Thesis master of global policy studies and master of arts. Austin: The University of Texas.Google Scholar
  3. Allison, R. (2004). Regionalism, regional structures and security Management in Central Asia. International Affairs, 80(3), 463–483.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Allison, R. (2013). Russia and Syria: Explaining alignment with a regime in crisis. International Affairs, 89(4), 795–823.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Barnett, M., & Duvall, R. (2005). Power in international Politics. International Organization, 59(1), 39–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Blockmans, S., Kostanyan, H., & Vorobiov, I. (2012). Towards a Eurasian economic union: The challenge of integration and unity. Brussels: CEPS.Google Scholar
  7. Bond, I. (2015). Russia in international organizations: The shift from defence to offence. In D. Cadier & M. Light (Eds.), Russia’s foreign policy. Ideas, domestic politics and external relations (pp. 189–203). Houndmills/Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  8. Cooper, J. (2009). Russia’s trade relations within the commonwealth of independent states. In E. W. Rowe & S. Torjesen (Eds.), The multilateral dimension in Russian foreign policy. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  9. Donaldson, R. H., Nogee, J. L., & Nadkarni, V. (2014). The foreign policy of Russia. Changing systems, enduring interests. In Armonk. New York/London: M.E. Sharpe.Google Scholar
  10. Dragneva, R. (2016). The Eurasian economic union: Balancing sovereignty and integration. Institute of European Law. Working Paper 10. University of Birmingham.Google Scholar
  11. Ferdinand, P. (2013). The positions of Russia and China at the UN Security Council in the light of recent crises. European Parliament/Directorate-General for External Policies. Brussels.Google Scholar
  12. The Foreign Policy Concept of the Russian Federation. (2008).
  13. Gerrits, A., & Bader, M. (2015). Russian patronage over Abkhazia and South Ossetia: Implications for conflict resolution. East European Politics, 32(3), 297–313.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Hedetoft, U., & Blum, D. W. (2008). Introduction: Russia and globalization—A historical and conceptual framework. In D. W. Blum (Ed.), Russia and globalization. Identity, security, and society in an era of change. Washington, DC/Baltimore: Woodrow Wilson Center Press/The Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Huntington, S. P. (1996). The clash of civilizations and the remaking of world order. New York: Simon & Schuster.Google Scholar
  16. Hurd, I. (2011). International organizations. Politics, law, practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  17. Kropatcheva, E. (2016). Russia and the collective security treaty organisation: Multilateral policy or unilateral ambitions? Europe-Asia Studies, 68(9), 1526–1552.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Kuchins, A. C., & Zevelev, I. A. (2012). Russian foreign policy: Continuity in change. The Washington Quarterly, 35(1), 147–161.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Kurlantzick, J. (2016). State capitalism. How the return of Statism is transforming the world. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Larson, D. W., & Shevchenko, A. (2010). Status seekers. Chinese and Russian responses to U.S. primacy. International Security, 34(4), 63–95.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Larson, D. W., & Shevchenko, A. (2014). Russia says no: Power, status and emotions in foreign policy. Communist and Post-Communist Studies, 47, 269–279.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Laruelle, M. (2010). In the name of the nation. Nationalism and Politics in contemporary Russia. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  23. Legvold, R. (2009). The role of multilateralism in Russian foreign policy approaches. In E. W. Rowe & S. Torjesen (Eds.), The multilateral dimension in Russian foreign policy. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  24. Levitsky, S., & Way, L. A. (2010). Competitive authoritarianism. Hybrid regimes after the cold war. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Lieven, A. (1999). The weakness of Russian nationalism. Survival, 41(2), 53–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Lo, B. (2015). Russia and the new world disorder. London/Washington, DC: Chatham House/Brookings Institution Press.Google Scholar
  27. MacFarlane, S. N. (2006). The ‘R’ in BRICs: Is Russia an emerging power? International Affairs, 82(1), 41–57.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Makarychev, A., & Morozov, V. (2011). Multilateralism, multipolarity, and beyond: A menu of Russia’s policy strategies’. Global Governance, 17, 353–373.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Mazower, M. (2013). Governing the world. The history of an idea. London: Penguin Books.Google Scholar
  30. Mearsheimer, J. (1990). Back to the future: Instability in Europe after the Cold War. International Security, 15(1), 5–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Mearsheimer, John (1994/95). The false promise of international institutions. International Security 19(3), 5–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. O’Neill, J. (2001). Building better economic BRICs. Global Economics Paper No: 66. New York, etc., Goldman Sachs.Google Scholar
  33. Phillips, C. (2016). The Battle for Syria. International Rivalry in the New Middle East. New Haven/London: Yale University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Prozorov, S. (2006). Understanding conflict between Russia and the EU. The limits of integration. Houndmills/Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Putin, V. (2012, February). Russia and the changing world. Moskovskiye Novosti February 27, 2012. Johnson’s Russia List, 2012, 34.Google Scholar
  36. Putin, V. (2013, September). Meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club, 19 September. Retrieved from
  37. Putin, V. (2014a, May). Putin: Peredacha polnomochnyi v EAEU ne osnachayet utratu suverenita.
  38. Putin, V. (2014b, July). Security council meeting. Vladimir Putin chaired a security council meeting in the Kremlin. Retrieved from
  39. Riasanovsky, N. V. (2005). Russian identities. A historical survey. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Rowe, E. W., & Torjesen, S. (2009). Key features of Russian multilateralism. In E. W. Rowe & S. Torjesen (Eds.), The multilateral dimension in Russian foreign policy. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  41. Sakwa, R. (2016). How the Eurasian elites envisage the role of the EEU in global perspective. European Politics and Society, 17(1), 4–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Sergunin, A. A. (2004). Discussions of international relations in post-communist Russia. Communist and Post-Communist Studies, 37, 19–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Sherr, J. (2013). Hard diplomacy and soft coercion. Russia’s influence abroad. London: Chatham House.Google Scholar
  44. Shevtsova, L. (2010). Lonely power. Why Russia has failed to become the west and the west is Weary of Russia. Washington, DC: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.Google Scholar
  45. Snyder, J. (2000). From voting to violence. Democratization and nationalist conflict. New York: Norton.Google Scholar
  46. Torjesen, S. (2009). Russia as a military great power: The uses of the CSTO and the CSO in Central Asia. In E. W. Rowe & S. Torjesen (Eds.), The multilateral dimension in Russian foreign policy. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  47. Tsygankov, A. P. (2012). Russia and the west from Alexander to Putin. Honor in international relations. Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  48. Tsygankov, A. P., & Tsygankov, P. A. (2003). New directions in Russian international studies: Pluralization, westernization, and isolationism. Communist and Post-Communist Studies, 37, 1–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. World Bank. (2015). Gross domestic product 2015.

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for HistoryLeiden UniversityLeidenThe Netherlands

Personalised recommendations