Vladimir Putin and Foreign Policy Discursive Legitimation Strategies

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This article analyzes the discursive legitimation tactics and models of political decision in contexts of crisis employed by Vladimir Putin to legitimate Russian foreign policy. The growing international impact of Vladimir Putin’s foreign policies and the deterioration of the relationship with the United States and other western countries constitute the context of the study developed in the article. Building on critical discourse analysis as an epistemological instrument, twenty-three political discourses and interviews delivered by the Russian President between 2000 and 2018 were chosen and systematized into four textual categories: authorization, moral evaluation, rationalization, and mythopoesis. The article argues that moral evaluation and mythopoesis are the two main legitimation categories employed by Vladimir Putin in his effort to legitimate his foreign-policy guidelines and strategic perspectives. The policy significance of the pervasiveness of those legitimation categories and tactics is addressed. The paper concludes that through narratives based on moral evaluation and mythopoesis as well as through an empirical model of political decision in contexts of crisis, Vladimir Putin normalizes three core beliefs: (1) that what guides his external policies is a realist perspective of the empirical global world, (ii) that the challenges faced by Russia in the international realm have an exogenous nature, and (iii) that the policy responses to those challenges are, however, endogenous.