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Critical geopolitics on Russian foreign policy: Uncovering the imagery of Moscow’s international relations

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The pragmatic and imperialist frames have dominated the analyses of Russian foreign policy. Despite the glaring similarities of Russia’s international conduct with expectations of pragmatism and expansionism, this study argues that Moscow’s foreign policy has been informed by more nuanced and dynamic conceptions of international relations. To uncover the imagery of global politics, as conceived by Russia’s top foreign policy makers, this study employs a critical geopolitics perspective. The latter views foreign policy as a social, cultural, discursive, and political practice of constructing, defending, and living the alternative claims about the ‘truths’ of international relations. The study illuminates Russia’s spatial conceptions of the world, its views of the international actors, and its national identity discourse. It shows how this imagery enters Russia’s geopolitical reasoning that provides the Russian government with ‘rationality’ for projecting soft and hard power in the neighborhood and beyond.

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Correspondence to Mariya Y. Omelicheva.

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Omelicheva, M.Y. Critical geopolitics on Russian foreign policy: Uncovering the imagery of Moscow’s international relations. Int Polit 53, 708–726 (2016).

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