Russia's Foreign Policy: Change and Continuity in National Identity (Rawman & Littlefield Publishers, 2006)


This clear and comprehensive text explores the past quarter-century of Soviet/Russian international relations, comparing foreign policy formation under Gorbachev, Yeltsin, and Putin. Challenging conventional views of Moscow’s foreign policy, Andrei Tsygankov takes a constructivist approach to argue that definitions of national interest depend on visions of national identity and that national identity is rooted both in history and domestic politics. Yet the author also highlights the role of the external environment in affecting the balance of power among competing domestic groups.


Drawing on both Russian and Western sources, Andrei Tsygankov shows how Moscow’s policies have shifted under different leaders’ visions of Russia’s national interests. He gives an overview of the ideas and pressures that motivated Russian foreign policy in four different periods: the Gorbachev era of the late 1980s, the liberal “Westernizers” era under Kozyrev in the early 1990s, the relatively hardline statist policy under Primakov, and the more pragmatic statist policy under Putin. Evaluating the successes and failures of Russia’s foreign policies, Tsygankov explains its many turns as Russia’s identity and interaction with the West have evolved. The author concludes with nuanced insights into Putin’s distinctive course, which balances an enduring quest for great power status with the desire for a special relationship with Western nations.