The past few years have seen a remarkable recovery of Russia’s international influence and ambitions. Rejecting an implicit offer of partnership with the West, albeit with junior status for Moscow outside its Eurasian region, the Russian government under President Vladimir Putin continues to pursue a separate agenda aimed at making Russia an important and independent pillar of the global order. Moscow may not yet aspire to become a global superpower and peer rival of the United States again, but its goals and some of its capabilities still exceed those of Britain, France, Germany, Japan and other typical regional powers. Not surprisingly, then, Russian policymakers consistently challenge efforts by others to relegate Moscow to secondary status in Europe and East Asia.
Nonetheless, a number of domestic and foreign factors will impact Russia’s strategic posture. At home, these include the evolution of the Russian political system, the vigor of the national economy, the strength of the country’s military and security services, and socio-economic and ethnic relations inside Russia. Major external variables that will shape Russia’s strategic trajectory include the strength and weaknesses of other countries and especially its neighbors, the health of the world economy, the attractiveness of Russia’s soft power, transnational challenges such as terrorism and drug trafficking, and how other countries respond to Russian policies. ...
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