© Dmitry Astakhov, picture alliance

As the example of the crisis in and around Ukraine underlines, we are witnessing drastic change in Russian domestic and foreign policy. Observers disagree on the relationship between these changes. One group argues that the nationalist turn in Russia has led to a more aggressive foreign policy. Others justify the internal change of course in terms of fears that the colour revolutions could spread to Russia; it is also construed as an attempt to win popular support for an aggressive foreign policy. Another interpretation lays responsibility for the crisis in and around Ukraine on Western actors, in particular NATO, the United States and the EU, for expanding their spheres of influence too close to Russia’s borders.

The Kremlin’s propaganda asserts a “war of values” against the West, with an anti-Western foreign policy now increasingly forming the basis of the Russian regime’s legitimacy. A power shift within the Russian elites has led to a noticeable strengthening of nationalist and anti-Western forces. Russian legislation has become more repressive and supplies the regime with new instruments to wield against opposition.

Russia’s economic and financial policies have also been subjugated to the new foreign policy course. On the one hand, the Kremlin is increasingly pursuing protectionist development projects and presenting these – via the state media – as responses to EU sanctions and falling oil prices. On the other, it has increased the military budget while forcing other ministries to cut spending. A longer-term development strategy – as proposed in the modernisation plans of former President Dmitry Medvedev – is currently not identifiable. Although former finance minister Alexei Kudrin has been asked to prepare a new national economic strategy, the openings for the technocratic elite are restricted to securing economic stability.

Russia’s anti-Western stance and growing protectionism also call into question the prospects for economic cooperation between Russia and the EU. Even in areas of complex mutual dependency such as energy, the politicisation of economic relations generates almost incalculable economic risks. Facing political confrontation with the EU and the United States, Russia is seeking closer relations with Asian partners, especially China. But it appears questionable whether the partnership with China can ensure the same access to technologies and capital hitherto provided by the West. It is also unclear whether the Chinese are interested in levels of cooperation extending beyond securing cheap energy supplies and a market for Chinese consumer goods.


Displaying results 1 to 10 out of 13
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Sabine Fischer

The Donbas Conflict

Opposing Interests and Narratives, Difficult Peace Process

SWP Research Paper 2019/RP 05, April 2019, 35 Pages


Margarete Klein

Russia’s Military Policy in the Post-Soviet Space

Aims, Instruments and Perspectives

SWP Research Paper 2019/RP 01, January 2019, 40 Pages


Susan Stewart, Jan Matti Dollbaum

Civil Society Development in Russia and Ukraine: Diverging Paths

in: Communist and Post-Communist Studies, Volume 50, Issue 3, September 2017, Pages 207-220
Margarete Klein

Putin’s New National Guard

Bulwark against Mass Protests and Illoyal Elites

SWP Comment 2016/C 41, September 2016, 4 Pages
Sabine Fischer, Margarete Klein

Russian Foreign Policy: Watching for "Grey Swans"

The SWP Research Paper "Conceivable Surprises: Eleven Possible Developments in Russian Foreign Policy" elicited harsh criticism in certain quarters. Here its editors, Sabine Fischer and Margarete Klein, explain their study’s aims and methods.

Point of View, 10.08.2016
Sabine Fischer, Margarete Klein

Российская внешняя политика: Почему стоит задуматься о «серых лебедях»

Публикация немецкого Фонда науки и политики (SWP) под заголовком «Возможные сюрпризы. 11 направлений, по которым может пойти внешняя политика России» вызвала резкую критику. В этом интервью редакторы публикации Сабине Фишер (Sabine Fischer) и Маргарете Кляйн (Margarete Klein) объясняют цель этого исследования и использованные в нем методы.

Kurz gesagt, 10.08.2016
Susan Stewart

Council of Europe Can Do without Russia

In light of human rights violations in Crimea and a new law allowing Russia to ignore rulings of the European Court of Human Rights, there is no justification for the country to remain in the Council of Europe, writes Susan Stewart.

Point of View, 13.05.2016
Margarete Klein, Kirsten Westphal

Russia: Turn to China?

SWP Comment 2016/C 07, January 2016, 8 Pages
Margarete Klein, Claudia Major

Perspectives for NATO-Russia Relations

Forms of Confrontation Dominate – But Dialogue not Excluded

SWP Comment 2015/C 49, November 2015, 4 Pages
Sabine Fischer

European Union Sanctions Against Russia

Objectives, Impacts and Next Steps

SWP Comment 2015/C 17, March 2015, 7 Pages
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SWP Comments

Fabian Burkhardt
Russia’s “Passportisation” of the Donbas

The Mass Naturalisation of Ukrainians Is More Than a Foreign Policy Tool

Andrea Frenzel, Nadine Godehardt
Improving Europe’s China Competence

On the Significance of China Competence for German and European Policy on China

SWP Research Papers

Muriel Asseburg
Reconstruction in Syria

Challenges and Policy Options for the EU and its Member States

Guido Steinberg
Regional Power United Arab Emirates

Abu Dhabi Is No Longer Saudi Arabia’s Junior Partner