Russia’s multi-faceted foreign policy has been impacted by the decisions of successive governments over the years, notwithstanding, the common objective in Russia’s foreign policy is based on economic prosperity, peace, and international cooperation.

All successive leaders and the current ones believe that the economy of Russia needs an uplift. Russia cannot be a major player in the international community if its economic indicators are not as strong as the rest.

It is evident that the most prominent feature of Russian policy is its ability to promote international cooperation among other players. As a result, it has always attempted to promote cordial relationships with other nations.

Also, ensuring the cohesion of the Russian Federation is another major objective. Russia is seeking to ensure that they protect all states under the federations to prevent any further disintegration but whether that is possible, is left to be answered.

Finally, the maintenance of Russian nuclear power is another objective most Russian leaders hold in high esteem. For Russia to be able to stand out among the world’s “superpowers”, they believe their nuclear power comes into play in that.

Historical Orientation of Russian foreign policy

History has it that, Russian foreign policy has gone through six stages of revolutions. These stages include Pro-Western Diplomacy (1991-1995), Multipolar Diplomacy (1996-2000), Great Power Pragmatism (2001-2004), Neo-Slavism (2005-2008), stability and cooperation diplomacy (2009-2013), and finally to the last stage, Great Power Diplomacy (2014-present).

All these stages have been influenced by certain factors for the interest of the Russian Federation. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia’s economic, political and diplomatic relations began in 1991.

Russia has followed the Pro-Western diplomacy style making them able to join most of the Western organizations like the G7, IMF, and the World Bank.

Foreign policy of Multipolar diplomacy (1996-2000)

But from 1996-2000 Russia moves towards a foreign policy of “Multipolar diplomacy” due to the actions taken by the West to accelerate NATO Eastward.

This brought some sort of damage between Russia and the West. It also allowed them to establish strategic partnerships with China and with India to neutralize the dominance of the US.

Foreign policy of Great Power Pragmatism (2001-2004)

In 2001 Russia began moving again towards the foreign policy of Great Power Pragmatism to strengthen its domestic political and economic factors.

The Putin government resolved to increase the external and environmental power of Russia through its economic resources due to the 9/11 incident.

Foreign Policy of “Neo-slavism” (2005-2008)

Soon after that, Vladimir Putin, President of Russia began the foreign policy of “Neo-Slavism” to send a message to the US the European bodies to stay out of Russia’s internal issues.

Even though they continued to relate and cooperate with the US and the European organizations, they made it clear that none could interfere in their core internal matters.

From there on, Russia under the leadership of President Putin began the foreign policy of “Stability and Cooperation Diplomacy (2009-2013).”

The reason behind this new idea was for them to be able to cooperate with many organizations, countries, and stakeholders for the development of the country.

That was when they began the Russian-America stability, and EU partnership, working closely with the CIS and Sio-Russian strategic partnership.

Modern foreign policy of Russia’s “Great Power Diplomacy”

Finally, Russia is now completely relying on the foreign policy of “Great Power Diplomacy” since 2014 till date. The crisis between Russia and Ukraine in 2014 generated this move.

Russia has kept its distance from the West and other organizations which have continually imposed restrictions on them as a result of the war. Consequently, Russia developed stronger relations with Asian countries.

Russia and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU)

Russia’s modern foreign policy has sought to promote partnerships with other countries and EAEU is one of the ways. Through the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) as a mechanism for multilateral cooperation, Russia strives for better bilateral relations with the likes of India, Iran, and ASEAN for bilateral and economic development.

Russia’s relations with Africa

Improving relations with Africa has been a foreign policy objective of Russia. Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin has developed close associations with African countries in terms of diplomatic relations.

Russia’s approach to expanding its relations with African leaders has been a challenge to the Biden Administration looking at the democratic trend.

The Chairperson of the Africa Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat stated clearly that, Africa values historical, strong relations with Russia.

Russia’s relations with China

In recent times Russia’s foreign policies have been more inclined towards bolstering ties with China as both countries share a common agenda, economically as well as politically.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), with Russia and China being the leading members have given the chance for them to protect their interest and foreign relations.

Nevertheless, foreign policy went through a decisive evolution in the wake of the 24 February 2022 crisis between Russia and Ukraine. Subsequently, there were more restrictions and impositions from the West.

Policy Recommendations

The foreign policy of Russia is currently facing challenges due to its crisis with Ukraine. More countries especially from the West are distancing themselves from the Federation which is crippling the economy of the country.

Today for Russia to bounce back, it will have to settle its differences with Ukraine and retrieve its army from the battlefield. Also, a strengthened democratic system must be put in place to ensure equity and justice in the ruling process.

As a country, Russia must be able to strengthen its economic institutions in order to keep the country going due to the major restrictions on their trade relations.

Likewise, they must also be able to project their oil sector to prevent and control in order to be able to have a say in the international community.


*The writer is a Fellow at The Diplomatic Insight, published by the Institute of Peace and Diplomatic Studies 

**The views, opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in these papers and articles are strictly those of the author(s). They do not necessarily reflect the views of The Diplomatic Insight and its team