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Title: Conceptions of security : history, identity and Russian foreign policy in the twenty-first century
Author: Chatterje-Doody, Precious Nicola
ISNI:       0000 0004 5356 4707
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2015
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Situated within a global context of political unease over Russia’s involvement in Ukraine, this thesis challenges views of Russian foreign policy as enigmatic and unpredictable. It examines the relationship between identity politics, conceptions of security, and the foreign policy preferences of the Russian political elite. It shows how particular aspects of Russian identity that are dominant in different international contexts work to structure policy preferences. This contributes to the pursuit of apparently contradictory objectives across these settings, and to inconsistencies between the rhetoric and reality of Russian security policy. Previous studies have looked into the impact of Russian identity on its policy preferences, but most have taken a limited, instrumentalist view of identity as a tool that is mobilised by political elites to further their existing policy preferences. By contrast, this thesis argues that conscious elite mobilisation of identity provides only part of the picture. Visions of Russian identity (and consequently of its international role) are constrained by institutional factors. These include the linked historical development of the Russian military, economy and education/research sectors. Following a discursive understanding of institutions, they also include the limited number of ways in which identity has previously been represented. These factors produce subconscious constraints on the imagining of Russian identity. This limited conceptualisation of Russian identity has become even more specific in the Putin era, due to the political elite’s frequent repetition of one, highly restrictive, narrative of a ‘usable’ history, presented as the factual background to policy discussion. This narrative foregrounds favoured events, associating them with preferred identity themes. Resultant ‘truths’ of Russian identity then provide a framework for foreign policy. Particular elements of this framework dominate Russia’s relationships with different multinational bodies, impacting on the type of policy cooperation pursued. In relations with the EU, focus on Russia’s equal contribution to European civilisation brings normative incompatibilities between the parties to the fore and acts as a barrier to compromise. With contrasting visions of their identities in their shared region, of what security there should look like, and of how it should be achieved, Russia-EU cooperation has been most effective when undertaken in a specific, sectoral manner. Anticipating the ‘West’s’ relative decline in global influence, Russia has gradually downgraded EU relations whilst pursuing a ‘multivector’ foreign policy that emphasises alternative partners. Capitalising on its identity as one of the BRICS rising powers, Russia has been able to pursue a joint challenge to the contemporary structure of the international order, facilitated by members’ shared convictions of the inequities of the existing system, and of their subordinate positions within it. Here, Russia’s identity as a cultural bridge has been emphasised, giving it a unique possibility to negotiate between the old and the new global powers. Most recently, Russia has built upon its identity as a continent-straddling regional leader, and a supposedly natural representative of Eurasia. In developing the Eurasian Union, Russia seeks to use its privileged regional role to ensure continued global relevance during an anticipated, and desired, transition to global multipolarity. This is a new reading of Russian ‘great power’, in which Russia’s multiple international roles are combined to give it the greatest possible level of influence in determining new global structures.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Russia ; historical narrative ; security ; national identity ; role theory ; discursive institutionalism ; BRICS ; EU ; Eurasia ; Russian foreign policy ; discourse