Putin unveils new ‘Russian World’ foreign policy – a notion used to justify foreign intervention such as Ukraine invasion to ‘support Russian-speakers’

  • The ‘humanitarian policy’ says Russia should ‘protect’ the ideals of Russian world
  • It enshrines official policy ideas around Russian politics that has been used to justify foreign intervention – such as Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine
  • Ideals of the ‘Russian world’ was used to justify war in Ukraine as Putin falsely claimed Kyiv had been carrying out a ‘genocide’ against Russian speakers

President Vladimir Putin has approved a new foreign policy doctrine based around the concept of a ‘Russian World’, a notion that conservative ideologues have used to justify intervention abroad in support of Russian-speakers.

The 31-page ‘humanitarian policy’, published more than six months into the war in Ukraine, says Russia should ‘protect, safeguard and advance the traditions and ideals of the Russian World’.

While presented as a kind of soft power strategy, it enshrines in official policy ideas around Russian politics and religion that some hardliners have used to justify foreign intervention – such as Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

‘The Russian Federation provides support to its compatriots living abroad in the fulfilment of their rights, to ensure the protection of their interests and the preservation of their Russian cultural identity,’ the policy said.

President Vladimir Putin on Monday approved a new foreign policy doctrine based around the concept of a ‘Russian World’, a notion that conservative ideologues have used to justify intervention abroad in support of Russian-speakers

It said that Russia’s ties with its compatriots abroad allowed it to ‘strengthen on the international stage its image as a democratic country striving for the creating of a multi-polar world.’

Putin has for years been highlighting what he sees as the tragic fate of some 25 million ethnic Russians who found themselves living outside Russia in newly independent states when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, an event he has called a ‘geopolitical catastrophe’.

Russia has continued to regard the former Soviet space, from the Baltics to Central Asia, as its legitimate sphere of influence – a notion fiercely resisted by many of those countries as well as by the West.

The ideals of the Russian World was used to justify Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Before invading, Putin falsely claimed Kyiv had been carrying out a ‘genocide’ against the Russian-speaking of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in eastern Ukraine.

While presented as a kind of soft power strategy, it enshrines in official policy ideas around Russian politics and religion that some hardliners have used to justify foreign intervention – such as Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. Pictured: Firefighters work at a building destroyed in a Russian missile strike in Kharkiv on Tuesday 

The ideals of the Russian World was used to justify Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Before invading, Putin falsely claimed Kyiv had been carrying out a ‘genocide’ against the Russian-speaking of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in eastern Ukraine. Pictured: A Ukrainian soldier walks through a destroyed building near Kharkiv, Ukraine on September 3

Putin also justified the annexation of Crimea in 2014 by invoking the concept of a ‘Russian World’ and he said Russians residing there were living in a ‘divided nation’.

The same language has been used in recent months by Russian officials when discussing the region of Transnistria, an unrecognised Moscow-backed sliver of land bordering southwestern Ukraine. 

Kremlin chief Rustam Minnekayev said in April that Russia sought control of southern Ukraine, which could provide access to Transnistria, ‘where there have been cases of oppression of the Russian-speaking population’.

Moldovans and Ukrainians fear Russian forces will launch ‘false flag’ attacks to help provide a pretext for invading Transnistria.

Putin’s new foreign policy also says Russia should increase cooperation with Slavic nations, China, and India, and further strengthen its ties to the Middle East, Latin America and Africa.

It said Moscow should further deepen its ties with Abkhazia and Ossetia, two Georgian regions recognised as independent by Moscow after its war against Georgia in 2008, as well as the two breakaway entities in eastern Ukraine, the self-styled Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic.

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