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Article

Understanding the foreign policy of autocratic actors: ideology or pragmatism? Russia and the Tymoshenko trial as a case study

Contemporary Politics . 2014. Vol. 20. No. 3. P. 347-364.

While the literature on the autocratic regimes has been rapidly growing in the last years, there still exists a research gap in this field: which impact do autocratic regimes have on the regime transition in the neighbouring countries? The literature on autocracies has demonstrated that autocratic political leaders tend to support each other. This article argues that the external influence of an autocracy may be more complex. The article analyses the case of Russia's international standing in relation to the trial of Yulia Tymoshenko. Using detailed process tracing, it has been shown that in terms of the Russian position, pragmatic goals may undermine ideological goals. Thus, while the main objective of Russia is to ensure the stability of gas contracts, the unintended consequences of its actions undermine the consolidation of autocratic regime in Ukraine. The article builds on the literature on regime transition, autocracy, and international relations.