Showing posts with label Russian Strategic Culture. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Russian Strategic Culture. Show all posts

Russian Strategic Culture And A Resurgence Of The West's Conflict.


As many observers have pointed out (Ermath 2006), Russian strategic, or security, culture has been based for centuries on Russia/self-perception USSR's as a great power and the belief that military force is necessary for achieving and preserving that position. 

This self-image has a significant impact on how Russians understand circumstances in which they find themselves, as well as how they define their own interests. 

Furthermore, the self-image2 describes the methods for achieving or maintaining projected Great Power status. 

Strategic culture, as defined by Jack Snyder (1977, 8) nearly half a century ago, is the sum of ideas, conditioned emotional responses, and patterns of habitual behavior that members of a national strategic community have acquired through instruction or imitation and share with one another regarding nuclear strategy and foreign policy in general. 

Vladimir Putin's single clearest message since assuming power two decades ago has been about Russia's continued greatness and his commitment to ensuring that it is once again viewed as the dominant power in post-Soviet space, including Eurasia, and an equal to other Great Powers in determining global affairs. 

At the Munich Security Conference in 2007, he launched a broad assault on the United States and the West, marking a rhetorical watershed in Russian foreign policy. 

Putin said publicly that Russia was once again a key international player, and that it would no longer follow the West's example in achieving its security and foreign policy objectives. 

He also said that Russians saw themselves as a pole in the world order, independent from and in opposition to the West. 

This was a significant departure from the official Russian security culture's vision of Russia as a member of the Western-oriented community a decade earlier, however changes started to emerge even before Putin took office. 

In reaction to Western accusations that it was corrupting or abandoning democracy, Moscow started to assert itself rhetorically about this time (Putin 2007). 

Threats to Russian security were now seen as predominantly foreign, rather than internal, as they had been a decade before. 

The charges and counter-charges between Russia and the West that have become commonplace since the shift in Russian policy have contributed to increased military budgets and exercises, the denigration of previous nuclear arms agreements that require renegotiation or were scheduled to be cancelled (during the Trump presidency) (Weir 2020), the resurgence of Russia's activities throughout the Global South, and direct intervention in the internal affairs of Western countries by Russia. 

These developments begin to resemble some of the most contentious operations between the Soviet Union and the West during the Cold War. 

As a result, a new cold war between Russia and the West may be loosely described. 

Indeed, during the 2016 Munich Security Conference, then-Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev likened the current condition of ties to those in 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis, claiming that "we are fast sliding towards a new cold war" (Medvedev 2016). 

The central question of this chapter is why relations between Russia and the West have deteriorated from the euphoria of the early 1990s, when President George H.W. Bush (1991) spoke of a "new world order" and others predicted the "end of history" (Fukuyama 1992) and Russia's incorporation into the Western-dominated world order, to the current confrontation. 

It is the product of two intertwined events, one external to Russia and the other domestic. 

The external factor stems from the West's commitment to expand the liberal international order eastward by incorporating large swaths of the former Soviet empire into the existing system through the exportation of liberal economic and political values, as well as NATO and the European Union expansion. 

On the Russian side, this has been paralleled by slow, but eventually substantial, shifts in Russian strategic culture in a far more assertive and aggressive direction, based on a vow to re-establish Russia as a "Great Power." 

These developments, in turn, are partially in reaction to what the Russians see as rising and illegitimate threats to their security interests as a consequence of that same Western expansion, and partly in response to internal threats to President Putin and his allies' political system.

~ Jai Krishna Ponnappan

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