Russia in a Changing World

The following is the Editor’s Note from Vol. 55, Issue 6 of Russian Politics & Law.

All of the articles in this issue of Russian Politics and Law hail from the venerable Russian-language journal Mirovaia ekonomika i mezhdunarodnye otnosheniiaWorld Economy and International Relations – published by the equally venerable Russian Academy of Sciences institute of the same name, better known at home and abroad by its acronym, IMEMO. For academics in the field of international relations, there is no more prestigious journal in Russia.

The articles presented here are not particularly academic, however – although their authors are serious, well-established scholars. Absent from all of them is theory: the reader will find no discussion of constructivism vs realism, or world systems of the global political economy (though the authors’ theoretical assumptions and biases can, of course, be read between the lines). Rather, each piece represents an attempt to come to terms with where Russia finds itself in the world today and where it might be headed.

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New Russians

It’s always hard to tell, but I don’t think that Vladimir Putin is planning to ramp up Russia’s war with Ukraine. At least, not today.

Three levels of background are in order here.

First, what happened today: Putin announced that Russia would offer expedited citizenship to residents of ‘certain’ parts of eastern Ukraine and then confirmed that he had in mind quite specifically the quasi-occupied territories knows as the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics. Ukraine’s president-elect, Volodymyr Zelensky, promptly decried the move and called for increased sanctions.

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The Politics of Identity

The following is the Editor’s Note from Vol. 55, Issue 4-5 of Russian Politics & Law.

Identity has been making something of a comeback in the world of Russian politics of late. Ever since Vladimir Putin and his advisers turned to the so-called “values agenda” to drive a wedge between the Bolotnaya-era opposition and the bulk of Russian citizens – successfully, as it turned out – identity has been at the core of Russian politics. Scholars have noted the role of identity politics in reordering the behaviors of Russian elites (Sharafutdinova 2014) and voters (Smyth and Soboleva 2014) alike, as well as in structuring the Kremlin’s approach to geopolitical confrontation (Sztosek 2017).

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Coming Soon! (Buy It Now!)

9780300238396.jpgAs you may of heard, Graeme Robertson and I have a new book hitting the shelves soon — 23 April in the UK, 11 June in the US – and available now to pre-order.

To get a flavor, listen to Graeme’s interview on, and then pre-order the book!

Incidentally, if you need a reason to pre-order it now rather than wait for the release date, take a look at this thread:

The Ends of Rationality

As we move at breakneck speed towards uncharted waters, I’m struck by the number of people assuming that rationality tends towards self-preservation – and that a country cannot destroy itself by accident.

Alas, history and the study of politics suggest otherwise. When systems fail, it is very rarely by design.

To take a case in point, there were a lot of obvious reasons why the USSR was fragile (or Yugoslavia for that matter), but (almost) no one predicted the collapse. Why? Because we assumed that people knew and understood more than they did.

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