This paper develops a framework for interpreting state international policy by treating national identity as inherently contested. Building on insights from constructivist literature, it proposes a technique for establishing the meaning of foreign policy action on several interrelated levels: state-based, society-based, and international. The paper illustrates the benefits of the approach by selecting the example of Russia's European diplomacy under President Dmitri Medvedev. By studying how officials themselves justify their policies and how these policies are then perceived in broader social and international settings, we have an opportunity to develop a rich understanding of a particular state action, as well as tentatively assess the chances of this action's success or failure.