Russian Nationalism Since 1856

Foreign policy analyses written by CFR fellows and published by the trade presses, academic presses, or the Council on Foreign Relations Press.

More on:


Politics and Government

Many scholars and analysts see Russian nationalism as a dangerous force, but is widespread concern about the malevolent effects of Russian nationalism—especially on foreign policy—justified? What is the record of nation-building in Russia, and how did nationalism evolve in the multiethnic, Russian empire? What variants of nationalist ideology have arisen in Russia, and what are their benign or aggressive implications for foreign policy? What Western actions might help or hinder the impact of aggressive nationalism on Russian international behavior? This thoughtful book answers these questions by exploring the range of nationalist ideas that have been cultivated in Russia since 1856.

Drawing on a wide range of archival documents and unparalleled interview material from the post-Soviet period, Council Fellow Astrid Tuminez assembles a provocative and thoughtful examination of the efforts of Russian nationalism. How two cases—Russian pan-Slavism in 1856-78 and great power nationalism in 1905-14—shows how aggressive nationalist ideas clearly influenced Russian foreign policy and contributed to decisions to go to war.

More on:


Politics and Government

Reviews and Endorsements

This brilliant book illuminates one of the crucial problems of the twenty-first century. No subject arouses stronger emotions, for better or worse, than nationalism. No country's nationalism is more imoprtant for humanity's future than Russia's. Dr. Tuminez clarifies the various formulations of Russian nationalism in historical perspective and shows their implications for foreign policy. These insights have worldwide significance.

David A. Hamburg, President Emeritus, Carnegie Coporation of New York

This book argues, in part, that Russia's evolution as a state has been guided for centuries by the imperatives of a sprawling empire. As a consequence, the idea of the people or 'nation' as the arbiter of political authority did not take root. In the past decade, Russians have dismantled the old empire, embarked on democratic reforms, and begun shaping a new state. The future of this new Russia remains unknown, but competing variants of Russian nationalism today are key to shaping that future. Policymakers will gain both historical and practical insights from this well-written and thoughtful work.

Sam Nunn, Former U.S. Senator

The nature of Russian nationalism fascinates, but its make-up is insufficiently understood. This outstanding book illuminates an area of profound international importance which will help shape the twenty-first century.

Rt. Hon. the Lord Owen CH, House of Lords, UK

Top Stories on CFR


The United States has reached an agreement with the Taliban, but significant challenges, such as political power-sharing, the role of Islam, and women’s rights, remain for achieving intra-Afghan peace.


Russians have voted on a sweeping package of more than two hundred constitutional amendments, the most important of which exempts President Vladimir Putin from term limits and potentially allows him to rule until 2036. What does this change mean for the country’s future?

Pharmaceuticals and Vaccines

The race to find a vaccine for the new coronavirus is well underway. Governments and researchers are aiming to provide billions of people with immunity in eighteen months or less, which would be unprecedented.