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Maria Snegovaya – What Factors Contribute to the Aggressive Foreign Policy of Russian Leaders?

By September 23, 2020September 29th, 2020No Comments

Photo: “Vladimir Putin address to citizens 2020-04-02“, by The Presidential Press and Information Office, licensed under CC BY 4.0. Hue modified from the original

Snegovaya, Maria. “What Factors Contribute to the Aggressive Foreign Policy of Russian Leaders?.” Problems of Post-Communism 67, no. 1 (2020): 93-110.


This paper explores the correlates of Russia’s aggressive international policy and argues that rising oil revenues increase the aggressiveness of presidential foreign-policy rhetoric. Using content analysis and machine-learning techniques, I generate a measure of aggressive discourse as the share of anti-Western sentences in Russian presidential speeches delivered between 2000 and 2016. These are analyzed using OLS regression with lagged dependent variables. I conclude that the aggressiveness of foreign-policy rhetoric in Russian presidential speeches positively correlates to oil prices. I also find no support for alternative explanations linking hawkish foreign policy to NATO expansion or domestic legitimacy concerns.

The Illiberalism Studies Program studies the different faces of illiberal politics and thought in today’s world, taking into account the diversity of their cultural context, their intellectual genealogy, the sociology of their popular support, and their implications on the international scene.