President Dmitry Medvedev, after completely ignoring foreign policy issues on the election trail, has performed a high-intensity campaign of visits, speeches and meetings since late May, wrapping up this season last week with the adoption of a new Foreign Policy Concept.
The flurry of external activity was centered on two seemingly incompatible tasks: to demonstrate consistency with Putin’s course, and to show that the current president is firmly in charge of charting a new one. Medvedev may feel satisfied with his self-introductions to peers and partners, but his politeness and skill in talking himself out of trouble have only prolonged his trial period. He is a perfect spokesperson for those of Putin’s followers who seek more recognition in the West; others, however, thrive on conflict and feed on insecurity. They are also testing Medvedev, and Putin can shield him only so far.