We apply the OLI framework, first, to examine the motives of Russian cross-border (CB) M&A activity in the period 2007–2013 and, second, to analyze the ownership preferences of Russian multinationals abroad. We test our first set of models using panel data of 322 country/year observations and the second set of models using cross-sectional firm-level data of 318 M&A deals. Our analysis shows that traditional investment motives provide a limited explanation of what attracts or deters Russian acquirers abroad. We extend our base-model to include institutional distance and find that it plays a critical role on Russian CB M&A activity. As a second step, we employ state ownership as a specific type of institutional ownership advantage and discover that partial state ownership discourages Russian firms from pursuing full-ownership in CB M&As. Moreover, Russian multinationals benefit from internalization advantages (full M&A ownership) in tandem with location advantages derived from natural resource endowments.