Edition: Lublin 2013
At the end of 1991, an event unprecedented in the history of the modern world occurred – one of the two superpowers whose grappling shaped the post-war history of the world collapsed. The Russian Federation that emerged after the dissolution of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was soon facing the need to defi ne its identity, position and role in the post- Cold War international environment. Interestingly, the highly complicated and multidimensional identifi cation process not only failed to resolve the dilemma regarding the true Russian identity, of great import to the Russian state, its citizens and the world, but was never fully accomplished. It seems that the modern- day Russia fi nds it extremely diffi cult to provide a straightforward answer to the question of what it is and what its goals and interests are. However, upon analyzing the more than twenty-year-long period of transformation which the USSR’s successor has undergone, it has to be noticed that Russia has discovered an integral and, more importantly, durable and fi rm component of its identity, of particular signifi cance to its international relations, namely the Russian hydrocarbons. Although it is only a small part of the multi-faceted and equivocal Russian “I” (both in its internal and external aspect), it seems a perfect reference point for the Russian Federation, a sort of axiom in the exceedingly diffi cult process of self-perception with regard to its role and place in the post- Cold War structure of the global balance of powers.