by Dmitri Trenin, director of Carnegie Moscow Center
Russian President Vladimir Putin will host two important international summits, one of the BRICS group on July 8-9 and the other of Shanghai Cooperation Organizations members on July 9-10.
For public relations, this will allow him to send a message to the world that despite the rupture with Europe and a new "standoff" with the United States, Russia is anything but isolated. With leaders of China, India, Brazil, Pakistan, South Africa, Iran and several other countries in attendance, together representing roughly half of the world's population, Putin will be able to project an image of Russia joining the global "new wave" of non-Western countries raising their profile and expanding their role in the world.
This is a sea change for Russia's foreign policy. Since the disintegration of the Soviet Union, Russia has had two strategies, one official and the other held in reserve. The official strategy was aimed at integrating Russia, on its own terms, into the Euro-Atlantic community, i.e. expanded West. The G8 membership symbolized that. The other was to integrate former Soviet republics into a full-fledged Eurasian Union: an economic, political, and security alliance, a Moscow-led power center in Eurasia.