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David, Maxine

Coming of Age: Russia’s Vision and Position in Twenty-First Century Geopolitics

In its 2013 Foreign Policy (FP) Concept, Russia set out its vision of today’s world. That vision contains elements of traditional Russian thinking and reveals a Russia which continues to be preoccupied with its geopolitical place and role. A notable new addition is the confident, self-assured tone when talking about Russia’s geopolitical situation today; particularly noticeable too are the many references to the ‘global’. If one does not look too closely, Russia seems committed to building a geopolitical space characterised by commitment to cooperation, opposing any residual attempt to divide the world into blocs. Look a little more closely, however, and the contradictions are evident.   This paper begins by analysing the FP Concept to understand Russia’s officially stated perspective on geopolitics today. It reveals a Russia that champions a ‘global security architecture’, respecting ‘universal principles of equal and indivisible security’, while simultaneously invoking a discourse focusing on ‘civilizational clashes’ and a diminishing West. The paper then moves to analysing Russian foreign policy behaviour, concluding that high levels of pessimism, mistrust and suspicion pervade Russian rhetoric and actions today, making it an active obstacle in achieving its own stated preferences and ensuring it perpetuates those very divisions it denounces.