Among the most abrupt changes in the earliest days of the Russian Federation was a reset of the country’s foreign policy in the post-Cold War era. Although it would be the largest successor state of the USSR, Russia would have to do without the largesse once enjoyed by the Soviets and their client states. The vision pitched for Russia’s post-communist transition fueled hopes that neoliberal economic reform, coupled with democratization, would enable international security and stability.
However, such optimism was short-lived. The failures of Russia’s economic and political reform agenda induced stark inequality while concentrating influence in the hands of elites. In the foreign policy realm, the expansion of NATO across Eastern Europe was interpreted as an incursion into Russia’s regional backyard, scuttling any remaining hope for a redefined relationship between Russia and the West.