A kinder, gentler Putin?

Well, maybe not that, but…

So Vladimir Putin’s re-taking the reins in Russia in 2012. While it’s hard to call this surprising on any level—though I’d sure like to have an honest discussion with Medvedev about his take on all this—I guess we should get ready to think about what this means for Russian foreign policy. Part of the answer, of course, depends on whether you think Putin was still in charge during the Medvedev interregnum. However, we do have some evidence for the foreign policy behavior of leaders that have previously served in office: they’s systematically less likely to initiate interstate crises than first-timers (see Chiozza and Goemans 2003). (We might also think that Putin’s going to be generally more peaceful because he’s a known quantity, in terms of resolve, so he’s got less to prove—and his opponents have less reason to prod him—reputationally.)

So, all else equal, Putin is likely to be more peaceful than your average bear this time around.

(Though perhaps we shouldn’t expect him to be more peaceful with bears…)

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