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Guest Scholar

Andrey Makarychev comes to Berlin to do research on Russian foreign and security policy.

News from Jun 07, 2011

In June 2011, Andrey Makarychev, Professor of International Relations and Political Science from Nizhny Novgorod State University, Russia, joins the Institute for East European Studies as Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Fellow with a two-year project on Russian foreign and security policy. Andrey is author and instructor of East European Studies (EES) Online’s Globalization Module.

His project is titled: "Russian Security Discourses in the European Context: Explaining the Variety of Approaches"

Thus Andrey explains his ideas:

"In my project I will take a look at Russian foreign policy in analytical categories grounded in ma-jor Western schools of political thought, primarily three of them – the English school, social con-structivism and critical theory. More specifically, I am going to single out four basic structural models of international society, and I will try to determine what potential Russian policy strate-gies can look like within each model.

The first model is collective unipolarity, or institutional hegemony of the West. Russia overtly opposes it, but this resistance – perhaps paradoxically – is aimed not at demolishing the West-ern global dominance but rather at being accepted by the collective hegemon (with EU and NATO at its core) as an equal (at least) or as a special (in the best case) partner. Under closer scrutiny it becomes apparent that Russia protests not against the practices of humanitarian in-terventions and regime changes in principle, but only against those of them that, in the Krem-lin’s view, harm Russia’s regional positions and interests, mainly in the territory of the former Soviet Union. In a similar vein, Moscow is not against NATO enlargement as such, but only against its approaching the Russian immediate borders.

The second model to be discussed is multipolarity, overwhelmingly understood by Moscow as inclusive plurality of power centers in the world, regardless of the nature of their domestic re-gimes. The concept of multipolarity may come in (at least) two different versions – as balance of power and as the management of major powers. Despite the meaningful divergence between them, Russia seems to politically invest in both. In doing so, Moscow is eager to make use of two different yet interrelated policy tracks – one being a track of multilateralism and the other of multi-regionalism. Russia tries to pursue – though with scarce success – multilateral policy strategies, mostly within the framework of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa), the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, and the Collective Security Treaty Organization. In the meantime, it explores – though rather cautiously – the possibilities of supporting projects of re-gional integration (hence Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavov’s appeal to “find regional solu-tions to regional problems” to prevent undesirable, in Moscow’s view, external interferences in regions important to Russia).

The third model is procedural integration, which presupposes the gradual formation of a more or less comprehensive set of common rules of the game in world politics. In approaching the West with proposals--much criticized for their vagueness-- on ‘new security architecture in the Euro-Atlantic region”, the Russian President Medvedev adheres, by and large, to the integra-tionist logic. The key problem here is that both NATO and the EU overtly condition Russia’s in-tegration into the Western institutional structures on Russia’s acceptance of key tenets of the western normative order, which Russia is still reluctant to do.

The fourth model is normative plurality, predicated upon the preservation of the current variety of values and norms that fragment the international society and even make it dysfunctional. Un-der this scenario, Russia reserves its right to adhere to its own conceptions of democracy, hu-man rights, sovereignty, justice, security, etc. In this light, one of the Russian strategies could be Russia’s “normative offensive”, of which the idea of “democratizing international relations” by their pluralization might be an important part. Another of Russia’s policies in the situation of normative plurality is Moscow’s support of the idea of a “dialogue of civilizations” as an epitome of the cultural plurality of the world. 

This scheme, as I have ventured to explain, contains both structural conditions and agency-related factors (i.e. Russian foreign policy moves) and can be used as an elementary matrix for uncovering the astonishingly contravening logic of various aspects of Russia’s conduct in the international arena. Russian foreign policy is full of tensions and inconsistencies, which might well be explained by the split (dislocated) nature of the Russian international identity."

We wish Andrey a successful time in Berlin. We are happy to have him with us.


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  • Andrey Makarychev, Nizhny Novgorod State University, Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Fellow, Russian foreign and security policy, Globalization Module.