chapter  2
The Securitization of Russian Foreign Policy under Putin
Pages 16

When Vladimir Putin moved into the White House in January 2000, Russian foreign policy was in a state of rout. An anarchic institutional climate, several very high-profile setbacks - NATO enlargement, Iraq, Kosovo - and a severe deterioration in relations with the USA and major west European powers in the latter years of the Yeltsin administration had generated an atmosphere marked by acute pessimism and a maximum of resentment towards the West. In these unpromising circumstances, the new President faced multiple challenges: reestablishing Russia as a more or less credible international actor; restoring confidence in government decision making; adopting more effective positions in defence of various national interests; and placing Moscow's relations with the West on a more constructive footing while ensuring that Russia retained its trumps elsewhere (developing ties with China, India and Iran). This chapter seeks to take preliminary stock of Putin's conduct of Russian foreign policy. It seeks to examine the extent to which Moscow's approach to international relations differs from that under Yeltsin. Can one speak about a distinct Putin style, or does the old French adage, plus ~a change, plus c'est Ia meme chose (the more things change, the more they stay the same), hold true? What themes and concepts, if any, bind Russian foreign policy in the post-Yeltsin era?