Foundations of Geopolitics

1997 geopolitical book by Aleksandr Dugin
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The Foundations of Geopolitics: The Geopolitical Future of Russia is a geopolitical book by Aleksandr Dugin. Its publication in 1997 was well received in Russia; it has had significant influence within the Russian military, police, and foreign policy elites,[1][2] and has been used as a textbook in the Academy of the General Staff of the Russian military.[1][3] Powerful Russian political figures subsequently took an interest in Dugin,[4] a Russian political analyst who espouses an ultranationalist and neo-fascist ideology based on his idea of neo-Eurasianism,[5] who has developed a close relationship with Russia's Academy of the General Staff.[6]

Dugin credits General Nikolai Klokotov of the Academy of the General Staff as co-author and his main inspiration,[7] though Klokotov denies this.[3] Colonel General Leonid Ivashov, head of the International Department of the Russian Ministry of Defence, helped draft the book.[8]

Policy usage

Klokotov stated that in the future the book would "serve as a mighty ideological foundation for preparing a new military command".[9] Dugin has asserted that the book has been adopted as a textbook in many Russian educational institutions.[1] Former speaker of the Russian State Duma, Gennadiy Seleznyov, for whom Dugin was adviser on geopolitics,[10] "urged that Dugin's geopolitical doctrine be made a compulsory part of the school curriculum".[9]

The book may have been influential in Vladimir Putin's foreign policy, which eventually led to the 2014 advent of the Russo-Ukrainian War, and its expansion with the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine.[11][12]

Eurasianist foreign policy doctrine

Eurasianist sentiments have been on the rise across Russian society since the ascent of Vladimir Putin in the country. In a poll conducted by Levada Center in 2021, 64% of Russian citizens identify Russia as a non-European country; while only 29% regarded Russia to be part of Europe.[13]

In 2023, Russia adopted a Eurasianist, anti-Western foreign policy strategy in a document titled "The Concept of the Foreign Policy of the Russian Federation" approved by Vladimir Putin. The document defines Russia as a "unique country-civilization and a vast Eurasian and Euro-Pacific power" that seeks to create a "Greater Eurasian Partnership" by pursuing close relations with China, India, countries of the Islamic World and rest of the Global South (Latin America and Southern Africa). The policy identifies United States and other Anglo-Saxon countries as "the main inspirer, organizer and executor of the aggressive anti-Russian policy of the collective West" and seeks the end of geopolitical American dominance in the international scene. The document also adopts a neo-Soviet posture, positioning Russia as the successor state of USSR and calls for spreading "accurate information" about the "decisive contribution of the Soviet Union" in shaping the post-WWII international order and the United Nations.[14][15][16]


In Foundations of Geopolitics, Dugin makes a distinction between "Atlantic" and "Eurasian" societies, which means, as Benjamin R. Teitelbaum describes it "between societies whose coastal geographical position made them cosmopolitan and landlocked societies oriented toward preservation and cohesion".[17] Dugin calls for the "Atlantic societies", primarily represented by the United States, to lose their broader geopolitical influence in Eurasia, and for Russia to rebuild its influence through annexations and alliances.[3]

The book declares that "the battle for the world rule of Russians" has not ended and Russia remains "the staging area of a new anti-bourgeois, anti-American revolution". The Eurasian Empire will be constructed "on the fundamental principle of the common enemy: the rejection of Atlanticism, strategic control of the U.S., and the refusal to allow liberal values to dominate us."[2][9] Dugin seems not to rule out the possibility of Russia joining and/or even supporting EU and NATO instrumentally in a pragmatic way of further Western subversion against geopolitical "Americanism".

Besides Ukraine and Georgia, military operations play a relatively minor role except for the military intelligence operations he calls "special military operations". The textbook advocates a sophisticated program of subversion, destabilization, and disinformation spearheaded by the Russian special services.[18] The operations should be assisted by a tough, hard-headed utilization of Russia's gas, oil, and natural resources to bully and pressure other countries.[9] The book states that "the maximum task [of the future] is the 'Finlandization' of all of Europe".[9]

In Europe:

  • Germany should be offered the de facto political dominance over most Protestant and Catholic states located within Central and Eastern Europe. Kaliningrad Oblast could be given back to Germany. The book uses the term "Moscow–Berlin axis".[9]
  • France should be encouraged to form a bloc with Germany, as they both have a "firm anti-Atlanticist tradition".[9]
  • The United Kingdom, merely described as an "extraterritorial floating base of the U.S.", should be cut off from Europe.[9]
  • Finland should be absorbed into Russia. Southern Finland will be combined with the Republic of Karelia and northern Finland will be "donated to Murmansk Oblast".[9]
  • Estonia should be given to Germany's sphere of influence.[9]
  • Latvia and Lithuania should be given a "special status" in the Eurasian–Russian sphere, although he later writes that they should be integrated into Russia rather than obtaining national independence.[9]
  • Belarus and Moldova are to become part of Russia, not independent.[9]
  • Poland should be granted a "special status" in the Eurasian sphere. This may involve splitting Poland between German and Russian spheres of influence.[9]
  • Romania, North Macedonia, Serbia, "Serbian Bosnia" and Greece – "Orthodox Christian collectivist East" – will unite with "Moscow the Third Rome" and reject the "rational-individualistic West".[9]
  • Ukraine (except Western Ukraine) should be annexed by Russia because "Ukraine as a state has no geopolitical meaning, no particular cultural import or universal significance, no geographic uniqueness, no ethnic exclusiveness, its certain territorial ambitions represents an enormous danger for all of Eurasia and, without resolving the Ukrainian problem, it is in general senseless to speak about continental politics". Ukraine should not be allowed to remain independent, unless it is cordon sanitaire, which would be inadmissible according to Western political standards. As mentioned, Western Ukraine (compromising of Volynia, Galicia, and Transcarpathia), considering its Catholic-majority population, are permitted to form an independent federation of Western Ukraine but should not be under Atlanticist control.[9]

In the Middle East and Central Asia:

  • The book stresses the "continental Russian–Islamic alliance" which lies "at the foundation of anti-Atlanticist strategy". The alliance is based on the "traditional character of Russian and Islamic civilization".
  • Iran is a key ally. The book uses the term "Moscow–Tehran axis".[9]
  • Armenia has a special role: It will serve as a "strategic base," and it is necessary to create "the [subsidiary] axis Moscow-Yerevan-Teheran". Armenians "are an Aryan people ... [like] the Iranians and the Kurds".[9]
  • Azerbaijan could be "split up" or given to Iran.[9]
  • Georgia should be dismembered. Abkhazia and "United Ossetia" (which includes Georgia's South Ossetia and the Republic of North Ossetia) will be incorporated into Russia. Georgia's independent policies are unacceptable.[9]
  • Russia needs to create "geopolitical shocks" within Turkey. These can be achieved by employing Kurds, Armenians and other minorities (such as Greeks) to attack the ruling regimes.[9]
  • The book regards the Caucasus as a Russian territory, including "the eastern and northern shores of the Caspian (the territories of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan)" and Central Asia (mentioning Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan).[9]

In East and Southeast Asia:

The book emphasizes that Russia must spread geopolitical anti-Americanism everywhere: "the main 'scapegoat' will be precisely the U.S."

The West

In the Americas, United States and Canada:

  • Russia should use its special services within the borders of the United States and Canada to fuel instability and separatism against neoliberal globalist Western hegemony, such as, for instance, provoke "Afro-American racists" to create severe backlash against the rotten political state of affairs in the current present day system of the United States and Canada. Russia should "introduce geopolitical disorder into internal American activity, encouraging all kinds of separatism and ethnic, social and racial conflicts, actively supporting all dissident movements – extremist, racist, and sectarian groups, thus destabilizing internal political processes in the U.S. It would also make sense simultaneously to support isolationist tendencies in American politics".[9]
  • South America and Central America: The Eurasian Project could be expanded to South and Central America.[9]

Reception and impact

Hoover Institution senior fellow John B. Dunlop stated that "the impact of this intended 'Eurasianist' textbook on key Russian elites testifies to the worrisome rise of neo-fascist ideas and sentiments during the late Yeltsin and the Putin period".[1] Historian Timothy D. Snyder wrote in The New York Review of Books that Foundations of Geopolitics is influenced by the work of Carl Schmitt, a proponent of a conservative international order whose work influenced the Nazis. He also noted Dugin's key role in forwarding the ideologies of Eurasianism and National Bolshevism.[19]

The book was described by Foreign Policy as "one of the most curious, impressive, and terrifying books to come out of Russia during the entire post-Soviet era", and "more sober than Dugin's previous books, better argued, and shorn of occult references, numerology, traditionalism and other eccentric metaphysics".[3] In 2022, Foreign Policy also noted: "The recent invasion of Ukraine is a continuation of a Dugin-promoted strategy for weakening the international liberal order."[20] According to Anton Shekhovtsov, the book's cover contains a depiction of a Chaos Star, a symbol that represents chaos magick in modern occult movements, and the use of the symbol aligns with Dugin's general interest in the occult and occult symbolism. After the publication of the book, Dugin has also used the symbol as the logo of his Eurasia Party.[21]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e Dunlop, John B. (July 30, 2004). "Russia's New—and Frightening—'Ism'". Hoover Institution. Retrieved 12 October 2017.
  2. ^ a b Burbank, Jane (22 March 2022). "The Grand Theory Driving Putin to War". The New York Times. New York City. Retrieved 23 March 2022. After unsuccessful interventions in post-Soviet party politics, Mr. Dugin focused on developing his influence where it counted — with the military and policymakers. With the publication in 1997 of his 600-page textbook, loftily titled 'The Foundations of Geopolitics: The Geopolitical Future of Russia,' Eurasianism moved to the center of strategists' political imagination. In Mr. Dugin's adjustment of Eurasianism to present conditions, Russia had a new opponent — no longer just Europe, but the whole of the 'Atlantic' world led by the United States.
  3. ^ a b c d "The Unlikely Origins of Russia's Manifest Destiny". Foreign Policy. 27 July 2016. Archived from the original on 2016-07-27. Retrieved 2017-10-23.
  4. ^ Liverant, Yigal (Winter 2009). "The Prophet of the New Russian Empire". Azure (35). Jerusalem: Shalem Center. ISSN 0793-6664. Retrieved 2015-04-06.
  5. ^ Shekhovtsov, Anton; Umland, Andreas (October 2009). "Is Aleksandr Dugin a Traditionalist? 'Neo-Eurasianism' and Perennial Philosophy". The Russian Review. 68 (4). Wiley: 662–678. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9434.2009.00544.x. JSTOR 20621114.
  6. ^ Lavelle, Peter (2003). Uncovering Russia (excerpt: A civil society without civility). Norasco Publishing. pp. 379–380. ISBN 0972970800.
  7. ^ Firth, Charles (March 4, 2017). "1990s Manifesto outlining Russia's plans is starting to come true". Retrieved 12 October 2017.
  8. ^ Mankoff, Jeffrey (October 17, 2011). Russian Foreign Policy: The Return of Great Power Politics. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 69–70. ISBN 9781442208261.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z Dunlop, John (January 31, 2004). "Aleksandr Dugin's Foundations of Geopolitics" (PDF). Demokratizatsiya: The Journal of Post-Soviet Democratization. 12 (1). Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies (George Washington University): 41. ISSN 1074-6846. OCLC 222569720. Archived from the original (PDF) on 7 June 2016.
  10. ^ Toal, Gerard (2017). Near Abroad: Putin, the West and the Contest Over Ukraine and the Caucasus. Oxford University Press. p. 78. ISBN 9780190253301.
  11. ^ Farmer, Brit McCandless (April 12, 2022). "Aleksandr Dugin: The far-right theorist behind Putin's plan". 60 Minutes. CBS News. Retrieved April 12, 2022.
  12. ^ Bibbs, Rebecca R. (April 12, 2022). "Anderson University president outlines 3 scenarios for an end to Russia's war with Ukraine". The Herald Bulletin. Retrieved 5 May 2022.
  13. ^ "Russia and Europe". Levada Center. 22 March 2021. Archived from the original on 1 May 2023.
  14. ^ "Russia adopts new anti-West foreign policy strategy". Deutsche Welle. 31 March 2023. Archived from the original on 15 April 2023.
  15. ^ Gould-Davies, Nigel (6 April 2023). "Russia's new foreign-policy concept: the impact of war". IISS. Archived from the original on 2 May 2023.
  16. ^ "The Concept of the Foreign Policy of the Russian Federation". Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the European Union. 1 March 2023. Archived from the original on 10 April 2023.
  17. ^ Teitelbaum, Benjamin R. (21 April 2020). War for Eternity: The Return of Traditionalism and the Rise of the Populist Right. Penguin Books Limited. p. 46. ISBN 978-0-14-199204-4.
  18. ^ Von Drehle, David (22 March 2022). "The man known as 'Putin's brain' envisions the splitting of Europe — and the fall of China". The Washington Post. Washington, D.C. Retrieved 22 March 2022. In his magnum opus, 'The Foundations of Geopolitics: The Geopolitical Future of Russia,' published in 1997, Dugin mapped out the game plan in detail. Russian agents should foment racial, religious and sectional divisions within the United States while promoting the United States' isolationist factions. In Great Britain, the psy-ops effort should focus on exacerbating historic rifts with Continental Europe and separatist movements in Scotland, Wales and Ireland.
  19. ^ Snyder, Timothy (20 March 2014). "Fascism, Russia, and Ukraine". The New York Review of Books. Archived from the original on 2016-01-27. Retrieved 5 September 2014.
  20. ^ Young, Benjamin (March 6, 2022). "Putin Has a Grimly Absolute Vision of the 'Russian World'". Foreign Policy. Retrieved 11 March 2022.
  21. ^ Shekhovtsov, Anton (2008-12-01). "The Palingenetic Thrust of Russian Neo‐Eurasianism: Ideas of Rebirth in Aleksandr Dugin's Worldview". Totalitarian Movements and Political Religions. 9 (4): 491–506. doi:10.1080/14690760802436142. ISSN 1469-0764. S2CID 144301027. Occult symbolism plays another important role in Dugin's ideological imagery. The eight-arrow star that became an official symbol of Dugin's organisation had first appeared on the cover of Osnovy geopolitiki, posited in the centre of the outline map of Eurasia. Misleadingly identified by Ingram as a swastika, this symbol is a modified 'Star of Chaos' and can be presumed to refer to 'Chaos Magick', an occult doctrine based on the writings of Crowley, Austin Osman Spare and Peter Carroll.

External links

  • Foundations of Geopolitics – Russian edition
  • Foundations of Geopolitics – Machine-translated English version
  • Review of Foundations of Geopolitics by John B. Dunlop
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