Russia has a stake in crises around the world from Ukraine to Syria, Sudan and Mali — and that is reflected in the active role it takes at the UN Security Council on issues both big and small, contrasting with the relative detachment of the United States.

The paradox is that, by at least one measure, the former superpower’s role at the Security Council is outsized: Moscow does not carry much weight in the global economy, and its financial contribution to the United Nations is far below that of Washington, the European Union or China.

“Russia’s greatest strength is that it feels no shame about blowing up UN diplomacy when it wants to,” says Richard Gowan, a UN specialist at the International Crisis Group think tank in New York.

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