The romantic era of Russian foreign policy is now officially over. Kremlin policy makers have embraced a pragmatic foreign policy agenda that could pose significant challenges to the nation-building aspirations of states in Central Asia and the Caucasus.
The Kremlin's thinking is embodied in the new foreign policy doctrine of the Russian Federation, introduced by Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov on July 10. The 22-page strategic policy blueprint, which took over seven months to formulate, crowned the process of reshaping of Russia's overall security concept. Previously adopted military and national security doctrines will also help shape Russian policy.
The argument for why it was necessary to elaborate a new foreign policy doctrine can be found in the text itself. It states, firstly, that changes in the international situation demand new approaches, and, secondly, that the previous "Kozyrev" doctrine (named after Former Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev), adopted in April 1993, simply doesn't work.
"Certain hopes for the forming of the new equal, mutually beneficial and partner-like relations between Russia and outside world have proved unjustified," the new foreign policy doctrine states. As some Moscow analysts believe, this turn away from the "romantic approach" characteristic of Kozyrev-era Russian diplomacy provides the ideological foundation for the new doctrine.
In fact, already under Yevgeny Primakov (in his capacity of both foreign minister and then premier) Russian foreign policy had departed from the Kozyrev guidelines which rested, in the words of the leading Moscow commentator Aleksei Pushkov, "on illusions and wishful thinking."
The "Primakov doctrine" although it was never formalized in a conceptual document established three major priorities:
Integrating Russia into the world economy;
Establishing a multi-polar world;
Opposing U.S. initiatives on so-called "principled issues," including NATO enlargement, the Iraqi economic embargo, and military intervention in Kosovo.
It turned out, however, that the Primakov policy principles contained substantial flaws. Rising anti-Western rhetoric, combined with Moscow's diminished influence in world affairs, served to isolate Russia. Hence, the urgent need to introduce necessary correctives.
To be sure, "Putin doctrine" does inherit some important ideas from Primakov's political thinking. The new foreign policy statement openly says that Moscow will resist "the strategy of unilateral actions" and "will encourage the formation of the multi-polar system of international relations." The document advocates the idea of the "strengthening of the consolidating role in world politics of the United Nations." And it sharply criticizes attempts to build security policies on "Western institutions
Igor Torbakov is a freelance journalist who specializes in CIS political affairs. He holds an MA in History from Moscow State University and a PhD from the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences. He was a Regional Exchange Scholar at the Kennan Institute, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Washington DC, 1995; Research Scholar at the Institute of Russian History, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, 1988-1997; Kiev correspondent for the Paris-based weekly Russkaya mysl, 1998-2000; and is currently a Visiting Fulbright Scholar at the Harriman Institute, Columbia University, New York.