Russian President Vladimir Putin has approved a new foreign policy doctrine based around the concept of a ‘Russian World’, a notion that conservative ideologues have used to justify intervention abroad in support of Russian-speakers.

The 31-page ‘humanitarian policy’, published more than six months into the war in Ukraine, says Russia should ‘protect, safeguard and advance the traditions and ideals of the Russian World’.

‘The Russian Federation provides support to its compatriots living abroad in the fulfilment of their rights, to ensure the protection of their interests and the preservation of their Russian cultural identity,’ the policy said.

As of 2022, according to UN estimates, more than 10 million natives of Russia live abroad. There are 471 thousand Russians in Latvia, 310 thousand in Estonia, and 180 thousand Russians in Lithuania. There are 7.3 million Russians living in Germany.

Putin has for years been highlighting what he sees as the tragic fate of some 25 million ethnic Russians who found themselves living outside Russia in newly independent states when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, an event he has called a ‘geopolitical catastrophe’.