The Russian annexation of Crimea was one of the great strategic shocks of the past twenty-five years. For many in the West, Moscow’s actions in early 2014 marked the end of illusions about cooperation, and the return to geopolitical and ideological confrontation. Russia, for so long a peripheral presence, had become the central actor in a new global drama. In this groundbreaking book, renowned scholar Bobo Lo analyzes the broader context of the crisis by examining the interplay between Russian foreign policy and an increasingly anarchic international environment. He argues that Moscow’s approach to regional and global affairs reflects the tension between two very different worlds—the perceptual and the actual.
The Kremlin highlights the decline of the West, a resurgent Russia, and the emergence of a new multipolar order. But this idealized view is contradicted by a world disorder that challenges core assumptions about the dominance of great powers and the utility of military might. Its lesson is that only those states that embrace change will prosper in the twenty-first century.
A Russia able to redefine itself as a modern power would exert a critical influence in many areas of international politics. But a Russia that rests on an outdated sense of entitlement may end up instead as one of the principal casualties of global transformation.
Bobo Lo is an associate fellow with the Russia and Eurasia Programme at Chatham House (U.K.), and an associate research fellow with the Russia and New Independent States Center at the French Institute of International Relations. He was previously director of the China and Russia programs at the Centre for European Reform, London; head of the Russia and Eurasia Programme at Chatham House; and deputy head of mission at the Australian Embassy in Moscow. He is the author of Axis of Convenience: Moscow, Beijing, and the New Geopolitics (Brookings/Chatham House, 2008).
Praise for Russia and the New World Disorder
Once again, Bobo Lo has written an illuminating book on Russia’s foreign policy. He has achieved a real ‘tour de force’ in both conceptual and descriptive terms. With elegance and precision, Lo has explained why Russia, as a declining power, is still so important for international stability, crisis management, and global issues. A must-read for now, and certainly a classic book for the next decade.
—Dr Thomas Gomart, Director of the French Institute of International Relations (IFRI), Paris
Bobo Lo offers a trenchant analysis of the challenges and choices that confront Russia in today’s rapidly changing global environment. In his compelling discussion of the Kremlin’s Hobbesian view of the international system, he asks whether Russia is capable of jettisoning its imperial mindset and becoming a modern nation-state capable of interacting more effectively both with its neighbors and the wider world. His answer is sobering–and sometimes surprising.
—Angela Stent, Director, Center for Eurasian, Russian and East European Studies (CERES), Georgetown University, and author of The Limits of Partnership: US-Russian Relations in the Twenty-First Century.
Bobo Lo’s new book is elegantly written and has a masterful grasp of the pressures and temptations that have acted on Putin in foreign and security policy. He puts us all in his debt.
—Robert Service, Fellow of the British Academy, and Emeritus Fellow, St Antony’s College, University of Oxford