Show of Force: Russian Intervention in the Syrian Civil War



Postma, Foeke Johan

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This thesis set out to increase understanding of Russian foreign policy with regards to the civil war in Syria. The conflict has drawn in many different international actors, and cooperation will likely be indispensable for bringing the war to an end. Improving understanding of Russian foreign policy might foster the required cooperation. The research question was phrased as follows: "To what extent can the theories of neorealism and constructivism help understand foreign policy of the Russian Federation towards the Syrian Arab Republic during the Syrian civil war?" After a short exploration of International Relations, constructivism and neorealism were chosen as the theoretical lenses through which to interpret Russia’s actions in Syria. First, overviews of the history of Syrian-Russian relations as well as the Syrian civil war were provided. Then the two theories were used to analyze important elements of Russia’s behavior with regards to the conflict. The findings suggest that Russia’s foreign policy can be explained by both theories together. Neorealism can explain the importance of the international system and Russia’s place in it. Constructivism can account for the way in which Russian identity relies exactly on those neorealist factors of power and place in the international system. Constructivism can also account for the changes which Russia’s identity and interests have gone through. Both theories together can explain important elements of Russia’s foreign policy during the Syrian Civil War.



Syria, Civil war, Neorealism, Russia, Intervention, Constructivism