Think Russia’s relations with Europe are bad? Ukraine, Belarus, Navalnyy are part of a long, unhappy legacy shaped by Russian strategic culture, argue .@eugene_rumer and Richard Sokolsky in a recent Carnegie paper. 1/12…
Geography, history, and elite consensus are the principal components of Russian strategic culture that explain Russia’s preoccupation and uneasy relationship with Europe. 2/12
Russia is European by its culture, its history, and its geography and demographics. Its Asian lands have always been its backwater, key events in its history—wars, diplomatic triumphs and setbacks—have taken place in Europe. 3/12
Russian elites have embraced the narrative of Soviet victory in WWII as the basis for its claim to a special place and role in European affairs. They resent Europe’s rejection of that claim. 4/12
Shaped by these enduring factors, many Soviet Cold War-era threat perceptions endure. Chief among them is the need for strategic depth, whose loss since the end of the Cold War has been a key concern for Russian leaders. 5/12
Ironically, Russian policy intended to counter the loss of depth and NATO expansion has only increased Russia’s insecurity. 6/12
Without the CFE and the INF Treaties, and with NATO’s 1997 assurances hollowed out by Russian actions, NATO has few restrictions to act to counter Russia. 7/12

For assurances see:…
However, far more consequential than the loss of arms control treaties, possibly including even the New START, which should be renewed, is the emergence of new conventional, cyber, space, and other technologies that will redefine the concept of strategic stability. 8/12
The capabilities of these weapons makes them exceedingly difficult to regulate, verification is virtually impossible, and legally binding treaties are likely to be impossible to negotiate. 9/12
When viewed in the context of Russian strategic culture, the Gorbachev-era foreign policy was not the norm, but the departure from it. A policy shaped by the country’s history, geography, and elite worldview is far more likely to endure. 10/12
This means that the best the United States and Europe can hope for is to manage the relationship with Russia—rather than try for a grand bargain or magical breakthrough understanding. 11/12
Managing this relationship will entail a combination of resolve, realism, and restraint, informal arrangements rather than formal treaties, and constant attention to the task rather than a fire-and-forget one-time fix. END.

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More from @CarnegieRussia

10 Aug
THREAD 1/ For some background on what’s happening in #Belarus, where protesters have taken to the streets following yesterday’s presidential election, see these recent articles by @A_Shraibman and Maxim Samorukov:…
2/ On the recent claims by Minsk that Moscow had sent mercenaries from the infamous Wagner Group into the country to stir up trouble ahead of the election:…
3/ On how Belarusian President Alexander #Lukashenko managed to alienate both Russia and the West in the run-up to the election:…
Read 8 tweets
8 Jul
THREAD 1/ We’re proud to present a series of articles examining how #coronavirus will impact #Russia’s foreign policy in the US, China, Europe, former Soviet states, Balkans, & Middle East. Contributions from @DmitriTrenin, @baunov, @AlexGabuev & more.
2/ The pandemic has hastened the arrival of a new era of Sino-American bipolarity that is an obvious challenge to both Russia & Europe, creating an interest in exploring possibilities for improving their badly damaged relations, writes @baunov
3/ @eugene_rumer highlights both tensions & potential for cooperation in US-Russian relations. But fresh accusations of Russian meddling in the upcoming US presidential election will send the relationship to even lower depths, he warns.
Read 12 tweets
16 Jun
THREAD: In the latest installment of Carnegie’s #GlobalRussia series, Richard Sokolsky and Eugene Rumer peer around the corner from today’s highly antagonistic U.S.-Russian relationship and imagine what the relationship might look like in 2030. 1/14…
U.S.-Russian relations are at the lowest point since the Cold War with no signs of improvement. But that is unlikely to last forever. Global trends and domestic political dynamics in both countries will necessitate the resumption of dialogue between them. 2/14
By 2030, United States and #Russia are likely to face a different global landscape—a world with more intense U.S.-China competition, more nuclear and advanced conventional weapons, more conflicts, and technological transformations. 3/14…
Read 14 tweets
10 Jun
THREAD: On July 1 Russians will vote on Putin’s attempt to appoint himself president for life. How are the demands of staying in power subverting his desire to strengthen the state and pulling the curtain back on the shadowy regime it coexists with? 1/10
Many in the West continue to see #Putin as the symbol of 21st-century authoritarianism. In fact, the demands of staying in power continue to chip away at Putin’s state, explains Nathaniel Reynolds. 2/10
On the one hand, Putin covets a strong, centralized state, which he believes with messianic conviction to be a prerequisite for #Russia to be a great power. 3/10
Read 10 tweets
11 Feb
1/9 THREAD: In this new Carnegie paper, Tatiana @Stanovaya explains how the power transition will reshape the Russian establishment & impact both domestic & foreign policy. She presents a new system for classifying the Russian elite into five tiers:
2/9 The five tiers are: Putin’s personal retinue, Putin’s friends & associates, government technocrats, the regime’s “protectors,” & its implementers. The roles of these groups may evolve during the power transition, but their place in the order of things will stay the same.
3/9 Now that Russia has entered a period of political change, the Kremlin’s principal goal is to modify the political regime & give it a new lease on life while preserving the political system & heading off any threat to that system from a domestic upheaval or Western pressure.
Read 9 tweets
22 Aug 19
THREAD 1/8 #Macron’s warm welcome of #Putin in southern France this week may have looked surprising to those who have been protesting against the Kremlin in Moscow in recent weeks. But Macron has his own agenda, explains @baunov.…
2/8 The West has got used to protests in Moscow fizzling out, and so far, the protests are at a regional level. In any case, after 20 years at the helm, Putin and his government are the only authorities the international arena knows.
3/8 What Europe definitely doesn’t want to see in its giant neighbor is a loss of control. So its approach is to remind #Russia of its obligation to uphold civil rights by reminding it of its European identity & mission, hence Macron’s comments that Russia is a European country.
Read 8 tweets

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