Policy Memos

Putin Reconstitutes Russia's Great Power Status

Policy Memo:


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That Russia is a great power appears to be an axiom of world politics, a point of reference accepted even by those who venture advice along the “Forget Moscow” line. Countering reams of political analysis and decades of policy tradition are the words of Joseph Brodsky, who said in February of 1996 in an interview reprinted in Izvestiya: “I think that Russia as a Great Power is over… Russia’s space will shrink. You can stand up from the gambling table. It is all over.” Indeed, so much power was lost during the 1990s, so much influence spent and opportunity wasted that this status cannot be taken for granted any more. Vladimir Putin, a self-styled pragmatist, is aware that sustained efforts have to be invested in upholding Russia’s “greatness,” while pretending that it is a given may help to increase returns on these investments. Often struggling against odds and playing a weak hand, he has achieved a lot more than his critics (including this author) ever believed possible. To give him due credit (and cut down on undue praise), we need to look into the substance and parameters of great power in a world shaken by terrorism and stirred by the U.S.-driven war against it. [...]


About the author

Research Professor
Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO)