Russia’s use of force in Ukraine has been described as a challenge to the rule of international law and an event of unilateral intervention. This paper provides a reinterpretation of this standard history of Russian revisionism. Our new history places this practice in a global governance context through an analysis of the politics concerning the international legal norm of ‘non-intervention’ and its legitimate/illegitimate exceptions for collective intervention. This analysis discloses a practice of Russian diplomacy that emerges out of resistance to humanitarian interventions advocated for by Western states. This practice justifies its own state-bound humanitarian intervention as the legitimate exception to the foundation of international order, which Russian diplomacy had previously sought to restore. We argue the political discourse of the worldview of ‘state civilization’ explains these events of Russian revisionism. We conclude with an analysis of the international paradoxes of peace and conflict contingent on this Russian worldview.