Kadri Liik, Senior Policy Fellow, ECFR
Lia Quartapelle, Member of the Italian Parliament and ECFR Council Member
Andrey Baklitskiy, Consultant at PIR Center
Teresa Coratella, Program Manager, ECFR Roma
Russia’s new generation of foreign policy professionals bring with them a shift in attitudes that challenges the centrality of “the West” in Russian foreign policy. Today’s young professionals are often bitterly affected by “disillusionment” with the West, but the youngest of them – people in their 20s – are free of such emotion, harbouring an outlook that is sharply realist and pragmatic. Russia’s young foreign policy professionals are neither Putin loyalists nor Western-style liberals: they are wary of ready-made ideologies, and prefer to attend to their own consciences. Young diplomats’ ability to shape policy will depend on the balance of power between ‘civilian’ and ‘power’ ministries in Russia (such as, respectively, the foreign and defence ministries), with the former in retreat lately. These shifts mean the West should not hold out hope for the optimism of the 1990s to return once Putin departs.