On its periphery, Russia is surrounded by a new crescent of instability and conflict. In these circumstances, peacekeeping operations have become a primary tool of Russian security policy in the post-Soviet `space'. These operations have raised significant controversy but have been subject to little systematic analysis.This major study offers an analytical framework for understanding Russian peace-keeping policy. It examines the evolution of Russian peacekeeping strategies towards the conflicts in Moldova, Georgia and Tajikistan, devoting particular attention to the internal and external factors influencing Russian strategies.Russian peacekeeping operations are a prism for understanding wider Russian security policy towards the so-called `near abroad'. The Russian Federation has employed peacekeeping as a tool to advance its interests abroad. This instrumental use of peacekeeping highlights the fragility of Russian policy and points towards a long-term trend of Russian disengagement from the former Soviet Union.