Date of Completion


Document Type

Honors College Thesis


Political Science

Thesis Type

Honors College

First Advisor

Michele Commercio

Second Advisor

Melissa Willard-Foster

Third Advisor

Kevin McKenna


Russia, Intervention, IR Theory, Constructivism, Ethnic Conflict


Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the fifteen union republics of the former superpower separated into newly independent sovereign states. The largest of these, the Russian Federation, has since emerged as the most capable and politically assertive and has inherited the majority of its predecessor’s geopolitical and strategic interests. Though Moscow’s interests in its “near-abroad” reflect the implications of its longstanding imperial legacy in the region, Russia entered the post-Soviet period pursuing a confused strategy of disengagement with regards to the new and unstable countries of the Former Soviet Union (FSU). Beginning in mid-1992 and continuing into late-1994, however, Russia began implementing a more assertive and interventionist response strategy to address the region’s growing instability. This project applies a combination of constructivism and historical institutionalist theory to demonstrate how, despite the Russian government’s early commitment to internationalist norms, fluid institutional preconditions allowed for a series of key structural shifts in the early post-Soviet period to drive administrative inertia away from the weakly institutionalized liberal-pacifist ideals of the Gorbachev era and towards a more muscular, nationalist, and zero-sum foreign policy strategy. In this context, the period from mid-1992 through late-1994 saw a rise in Russian intervention in the near abroad as intervening events challenged the orthodoxy of the isolationists in power and legitimized the efforts of revanchist policy entrepreneurs framing the use of force as a justifiable and necessary foreign policy strategy.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.