In a truly contemporary analysis of Moscow's relations with its neighbors and other strategic international actors, Gvosdev and Marsh use a comprehensive vectors approach, dividing the world into eight geographic zones. Each vector chapter looks at the dynamics of key bilateral relationships while highlighting major topical issues—oil and energy, defense policy, economic policy, the role of international institutions, and the impact of major interest groups or influencers—demonstrating that Russia formulates multiple, sometimes contrasting, foreign policies. Providing rich historical context as well as exposure to the scholarly literature, the authors offer an incisive look at how and why Russia partners with some states while it counter-balances others.

Vectors and Sectors: The Russian Foreign Policy Mechanism

Vectors and sectors: The Russian foreign policy mechanism

Foreign policy is not formed in an abstract vacuum. In any country—Russia included—governments must deal with a series of realities. There is rarely a clear-cut choice between “good” and “bad” options, but rather the need to choose between competing imperatives. Presidents and prime ministers may have impulses but must still exercise policy through other people—and it is “only by coaxing, prodding and compromise” that decisions are made and executed. Moreover, leaders rarely have a blank slate; “all problems and policies have already been worked by a thousand hands and the clay is mostly dry.”1 Despite the immense formal authorities given to the Russian president, his government is heir to the ...

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