Why did Russia's relations with the West shift from cooperation a few decades ago to a new era of confrontation today? Some explanations focus narrowly on changes in the balance of power in the international system, or trace historic parallels and cultural continuities in Russian international behavior. For a complete understanding of Russian foreign policy today, individuals, ideas, and institutions—President Vladimir Putin, Putinism, and autocracy—must be added to the analysis. An examination of three cases of recent Russian intervention (in Ukraine in 2014, Syria in 2015, and the United States in 2016) illuminates the causal influence of these domestic determinants in the making of Russian foreign policy.

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