This article applies theories of foreign policy change to the question of Russia’s ‘strategic realignment’ following the events of 11 September. In terms of Russian foreign policy change, 11 September was not fundamentally significant. It simply made overt and explicit the underlying trends and pressures that shape Russia’s strategic orientation. However, 11 September has allowed President Putin to consolidate Russia’s decisive strategic realignment Westwards. And it has demonstrated the gulf, which had widened through the 1990s, between Russia’s stated foreign and security policy objectives and preferences and its financial, military and institutional capacity to achieve those objectives. While accepting that a Russian strategic realignment has occurred under Putin, the article identifies its conditional nature and points to factors that could reverse the quality and depth, if not orientation, of such a realignment.