This article examines the emotion-based status-seeking logic in Russia’s foreign policy vis-à-vis the West, presenting the example of Russia’s reactions to NATO’s military campaign against Serbia in 1999. It is argued that Russian assertiveness in combination with expressive rhetoric must be understood as a result of the ruling elite’s need to have Russia’s identity and self-defined social status as an equal great power in world politics respected by its Western interaction partners. Russia’s reactions to NATO’s intervention, which was not authorized by the UN Security Council, must be read as a strategy coping with the emotion anger about the perceived humiliation and provocation of status denial and ignorance by the West. We find various elements of such a coping strategy, among them the verbalization of the feeling of anger among Russian political circles and the media; uttering retaliation threats, but no ‘real’ aggressive, retaliatory action; minor and temporary activities aimed at restoring Russia’s image and status as an influential an equal power. On the surface, the Kosovo episode did not result in any visible break or rift in the RussianeWestern relationship. However, emotionally it has lead to a significant loss of trust in the respective partner on both sides.

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