UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES)


SEES0084 Russian Foreign Policy

UCL Credit Value: 30

ECTS Value: 15

Terms 1 and 2

Module Coordinator: Dr Pete Duncan
Weekly Contact Hours: 2.0 (for 17 weeks)
Prerequisites: None

Summative Assessment

6000 word coursework (100%)

Formative Assessment

One voluntary essay, 2,000 words. This will be given written and, if desired, oral feedback.

Module Outline

The aims of this course are to give the student an understanding of the motives of Russian foreign policy, the forces that shape it, the instruments it uses and its impact on the world. The course begins by outlining the foreign policy of the USSR up to  1991 and then moves on to examine the foreign policy of the new Russian state as it has developed under Presidents Boris El’tsin, Vladimir Putin, Dmitrii Medvedev and Putin again.

We shall consider the interrelationship between increasing domestic authoritarianism and international politics. We shall investigate how Russia, faced with NATO and EU enlargement and American unilateralism, sought to use its new wealth to re-assert itself as a great power, first of all in the former Soviet Union as illustrated by the August 2008 conflict in Georgia; whether the international economic crisis encouraged a re-appraisal; and why Putin has been willing to sacrifice good relations with Western countries in order to annex the Crimea and build the planned ‘Eurasian Union’.  

Additionally, the course aims to develop the presentational skills of the student, through the assimilation and analysis of the available literature (which is now quite substantial) and the requirements to offer seminar presentations and write essays; and to prepare the student for careers where knowledge of Russian foreign policy will be an asset. The course will draw on a number of disciplines, in particular Political Science, History and Economics.

Core Texts

  • Robert H Donaldson & Vijay Nadkarni, The Foreign Policy of Russia: Changing Systems, Enduring Interests. 6th edn, Routledge 2018 pbk.
  • Andrei P.Tsygankov, Russia's Foreign Policy: Change and Continuity in National Identity.4th edn, Rowman & Littlefield 2016

Please note: This outline is accurate at the time of publication. Minor amendments may be made prior to the start of the academic year.