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Engelbrekt, Kjell

Still the Intransigent Insider: Russia and Global Security Institutions

Judged by its rhetoric and behavior in international diplomatic settings, one could get the impression that the Russian Federation is situated outside most of the influential decision making arenas and institutions. For much of the past ten to fifteen years, Moscow has consistently projected itself as the main political and diplomatic alternative to the United States, be it at the global or the regional level. Having secured a role in the BRICS constellation that mainly gathers emerging great powers in the global South, the image of Russia as a deeply skeptical, even intransigent, critic of American and West European initiatives and policies has been even further cemented. Curiously, relatively little attention has been paid to the fact that Russia at the same time is an incumbent and an insider to almost all global decision making arenas and institutions, including what many regard as the symbolic pinnacle-the United Nations Security Council. To the extent that emerging great powers are unable to join key institutional arenas or get their views across in such contexts, that is, Russia itself clearly constitutes a key stumbling block. There is evidence that Russia in the G8 setting is an important partner, especially in the realm of counterterrorism. But at the same time Moscow works hard-especially in the G20 and UN Security Council context-to sustain Russia's image as a critical counterpoint to the United States, even though its incumbency status renders it unique access to emerging great powers as well as to major Western capitals.