Multipolarity in Russia
A philosophical and practical understanding
in National perspectives on a multipolar order
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This chapter investigates both Russia’s role in cultivating a global debate about the shift to a multipolar order, including the desirability of a more diffuse global order, as well as the use of the concept within Russia. The chapter begins by placing Russian discourse on multipolarity within the wider context of Russian thinking on issues of global order, state power, and modernity. It uses this background to highlight the discrepancies between the more theoretical/philosophical approaches to global order in Russian discourse on the one hand, and the more immediate, policy-focused arguments about the ‘need’ for a multipolar order on the other. The chapter identifies four central themes that emerge from both official and scholarly Russian arguments about multipolarity: debates around the notion of ideological-cultural distinctiveness (and specifically a rejection of Western-led ideological universalism), normative arguments in favour of a more equitable redistribution of power among rising and re-emerging powers, a reassertion of Russian nationalism, and the regionalisation of world politics. The chapter also examines specific Russian foreign policy initiatives in recent years and their relationship with normative arguments in favour of constructing a multipolar order. This includes Russian approaches to multilateral groupings including the BRICS, the Eurasian Economic Union, and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. The discussion argues that Russia’s views on multipolarity tend to fall between the ideas of ‘multiregionalism’ and more traditional notions of great power management, both of which rest on traditional assumptions about the role of the nation state and state sovereignty in world politics.

National perspectives on a multipolar order

Interrogating the global power transition

Editor: Benjamin Zala

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