TWQ: Russian Foreign Policy: Continuity in Change - Winter 2012

The imminent return of Vladimir Putin to the presidency of the Russian Federation in 2012 raises many questions about the future of Russian foreign and security policy as well as U.S.–Russia relations. To what extent will Putin seek to continue and implement the goals of current President Dmitri Medvedev’s modernization program? Will Putin reform the  political system in the direction of decentralization of power and pluralism? Will the “reset” in U.S.–Russia relations endure? Even with these issues up in the air, the return of Putin as president will not significantly alter the course of Moscow’s foreign policy, however. Some  argue that Putin never relinquished authority over foreign policy in the first place, and that may well be true. But even if it is, there are  deeper structural reasons involving debates among Russian elites about foreign policy and Russia’s place in the world that are more important in explaining why Putin’s return will not usher in a significant policy shift.

Andrew C. Kuchins

Igor A. Zevelev