Russia in a multipolar world: Role identities and “cognitive maps”

Publication date:
Andrey Makarychev, Visiting scholar, Institute for East European Studies, Free University Berlin

In this paper the author argues that Russian policy- and opinion-makers, having borrowed the concept of multipolarity from the (neo)realist vocabulary, very often they use it in a much broader sense of narratives on Russian identity and subjectivity and, therefore, attach to it quite different non-realist meanings, which include issues of identity and non-state actorship. What hides beneath the pretended realist wording of Russian discourse is a much more complicated and variegated –though not always consistent– set of policy imageries. Against this background, the Russian discourse on multipolarity reminds a patchwork of scattered and loosely tied “cognitive maps”, based upon –and sustained by– certain visions of the world in the diversity of its actors. Since multipolarity originates in the sphere of ideas, it would be quite logical to assume that at certain time there might be more than one pattern of multipolar arrangements. Each of them gives a different answer to the question of what poles, nation states, regions, civilizations, or integrative constructs like EU and CIS are.

Keywords: Russia, foreign policy, security, multipolarity