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Russia's BRICs Diplomacy: Rising Outsider with Dreams of an Insider

Hunter College, CUNY

Cynthia Roberts is an associate professor at Hunter College, City University of New York and an adjunct senior associate of the Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies at Columbia. Her articles on Russia and international security issues have appeared in such journals as Comparative Politics, Survival, Europe-Asia Studies, The Washington Quarterly, and Technology Review and she is the author of Russia and the European Union: The Sources and Limits of “Special Relationships” (2007).

Russia has been the leading proponent of transforming the BRICs from an investment strategy into a recognized coalition of emerging powers bearing significant implications for international relations. Since the end of the Cold War, Moscow has tried to deny the realities of unipolarity while grudgingly adjusting to its constraints. Now that American primacy is waning, Russia, the perennial outsider, aims to become an insider and a rule maker in the international system. Despite questioning the existing order's durability and legitimacy, Russia and the other BRICs seek to be among its managing directors, not to overthrow it. Russia has simultaneously sought to renegotiate the terms of its accommodation to the Euro-Atlantic order, drawing on its preference for cooperation without domestic conditionality requirements. Moscow's BRICs diplomacy has been one of its most successful international initiatives, although the group's future existence will probably be determined by China, the real contender for polar power status.