Multi‐polarity as resistance to liberal norms: Russia’s position on Responsibility to Protect

Xymena Kurowska

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In Western analysis, Russia's insistence on the supremacy of international law serves as little more than a strategy to sustain parity with the West. The Kremlin's justification of its use of responsibility to protect is seen as an abuse of humanitarian language and a smokescreen in the pursuit of geopolitical interests. Formulated from within the liberal paradigm, such interpretations underestimate the normative saturation of strategic action. This article examines Russia's discourse of multipolarity not as being purely strategic—as is widely held—but rather as a form of resistance to the perceived liberal hegemony of the West. The effects of such resistance resemble the outcomes of strategic manoeuvring but they should not be reduced to such. Bolstered by a sense of betrayal by the West, Russia's evolving discourse of multipolarity provides an alternative vision of the world order that contests the imposition of liberal values and bestows upon the authorities an actual responsibility to contain the West's dominance. Both Russia's interpretation of responsibility to protect and its position in the debate arise from this agenda.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)489-508
Number of pages19
JournalConflict, Security and Development
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 02 Jul 2014


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