Identification and physical disconnect in Russian foreign policy: Georgia as a Western proxy once again?

Academic article
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Security policy  NATO  Foreign policy  Russia and Eurasia
Written by

Julie Wilhelmsen

Research Professor, Head of the Research group on Russia, Asia and International Trade



Evolving official Russian identifications of Georgia amount to a dangerous securitisation of this small neighbour – achieved through a focus not on Georgia itself but on Western engagement in the region. With the long absence of face-to-face diplomatic encounters and contact, the Russian idea of Georgia as a ‘Western proxy’ has become entrenched. This article advances a social explanation of Russian foreign policy that speaks to geopolitical explanations in foregrounding great power interaction and security by drawing on insights from a discourse-theoretical reading of securitisation theory. It adds value to social explanations by showing how the identification of another political entity can be changed into that of a ‘proxy’ through its integration into a larger ‘radically different other’, and how this expansion occurs in interplay with interpretations of physical manifestations of the larger ‘radically different other’ in the ‘proxy’. Finally, it draws attention to the impact of physical encounters on foreign policy in these times of COVID-19, war, and growing isolationism in world affairs.