Notes de l'Ifri Russie.NEI.Visions
Speech of Russian President Vladimir Putin, BRICS' Summit, Johannesburg, August 24, 2023

Between Aspiration and Reality: Russia in the World (Dis)order Russie.Eurasie.Visions, No. 134, Ifri, June 2024

The world has rarely seemed more disorderly than it is today. But in this anarchic environment, some things are constant. 

Between Aspiration and Reality: Russia in the World (Dis)order Download
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Putin’s foreign policy is centered on the idea that Russia was, is and always will be a great power, playing a leading role in world affairs. This conviction rests on several pillars: the exercise of sovereign power, civilizational messianism, identification with the Global South, and an enduring sense of grievance and insecurity.

Putin’s great power ambitions face considerable constraints. The war in Ukraine has exposed the weaknesses of Russia’s much-vaunted military might and killed off lingering hopes of being a geopolitical balancer between the United States (US) and China. Economic ties with Europe have suffered enormous damage. Strategic dependence on China has grown significantly. And Moscow’s influence in the post-Soviet space has been eroded.

Nevertheless, it would be premature to write off Russia’s prospects. It is a diminished power, but the shortcomings of others may open up opportunities to restore its position and influence. Putin is counting on growing “Ukraine fatigue” in the West, and a Trump victory in the 2024 US presidential election could be a game-changer. Any dilution in Western support for Ukraine would boost Russia’s strategic prospects and encourage Putin’s aggressive inclinations.


Bobo Lo is an Associate Research Fellow with the Russia/Eurasia Center at Ifri. He is also a Non-Resident Fellow with the Lowy Institute, Sydney, Australia; and a Non-Resident Senior Fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA) in Washington D.C. Previously, he was Head of the Russia and Eurasia Programme at Chatham House, and Deputy Head of Mission at the Australian Embassy in Moscow.

Dr. Lo has written several books, including A Wary Embrace: What the China-Russia Relationship Means for the World (Penguin Australia, 2017); Russia and the New World Disorder (Brookings and Chatham House, 2015); and Axis of Convenience: Moscow, Beijing and the New Geopolitics (Brookings and Chatham House, 2008).


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