Russian Foreign Policy


In testimony on Capitol Hill this year, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said that all the books on Russia and the Soviet Union in her study were no longer archaeological artifacts but more relevant as each day passes. For the first time in years, U.S. defense strategy identifies Russia as a top security concern.

This six-session course will explore the roots of current Russian foreign policy and its evolution since the fall of the Soviet Union, particularly under Putin. It will look at debates within the Russian elite and foreign academic communities to gain some perspective on how and why Russia behaves as it does in the outside world. It will especially examine the extent to which Russian domestic interests affect its foreign policy. The course will review the mix of tools, old and new, which Moscow uses to pursue its goals abroad, including active measures, cyber, and social media, as well as old-fashioned diplomacy. Specific areas and case studies will include: U.S.-Russian relations including the strategic arms balance; Russian policy toward the other states of the former Soviet Union, particularly Ukraine; Russian-European relations, with special emphasis on NATO and the EU; Russian policy toward Asia, including China, Japan and the Koreas; and Moscow’s efforts to re-establish its claims to great power status in the Third World, especially the Middle East. Some time each week will be devoted to breaking news. The course will combine lecture and class discussion. Drawing on his 40-plus years in the U.S. intelligence community, the instructor’s formal presentation will more resemble briefings to policymakers than academic lectures.

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