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Regular version of the site

Article

What Russia Can Teach Us about Power and Influence in World Politics

Russian Politics. 2019. Vol. 4. No. 2. P. 137-167.

There is a striking opposition within the current discourse on Russia’s position in the world. On the one hand, there are well-known arguments about Russia’s “weak hand” (relatively small and stagnating economy, vulnerability to sanctions, technological backwardness, deteriorating demography, corruption, bad institutions, etc.). On the other hand, Russia is accused of “global revisionism”, attempts to reshape and undermine the liberal world order, and Western democracy itself. There seems to be a paradox: Russia with a perceived decline of major resources of national power, exercises dramatically increased international influence. This paradox of power and/or influence is further explored. This paper introduces a new complex Index of national power. On the basis of ratings of countries authors compare the dynamics of distribution of power in the world with a focus on Russia’s national power in world politics since 1995. The analysis brings evidence that the cumulative resources of Russia’s power in international affairs did not increase during the last two decades. However, Russia’s influence in world politics has significantly increased as demonstrated by assertive foreign policy in different parts of the world and its perception by the international political community and the public. Russia remains a major power in today’s world, although some of its power resources are stagnating or decreasing in comparison to the US and rising China. To compensate for weaknesses Russia is using both traditional and nontraditional capabilities of international influence.