Russian foreign policy is driven by national interests; pragmatism has replaced ideology. Russia seems to act according to generally predictable and comprehensible rules and principles. Therefore the country should not be seen as an exception but rather as a normal power and – in due course – a normal great power.
Russia overplaying its energy card has been (mis)interpreted as neo-imperial ambitions rather than a rational policy meant to establish a more equitable system of international relations. It is mainly thanks to hydrocarbon energy wealth that former President Putin has been able to restore Russia’s international status.
If the West considers Russia as an antagonist power, it will fail not only to build up cooperative relations but also will lose the chance to have Russia on its side in dealing with troubled areas. Instead both parts can benefit from a fair dialogue. Russia is not a country which the West may integrate through the traditional principle of conditionality but an equal partner willing to converge with Western established rules.