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When I was at university*, I distinctly remember being asked to write an essay to answer this question:

"Russian foreign policy never changes, regardless of the regime. Discuss."

I don't remember everything I wrote, but I do remember generally agreeing with the statement. Two aspects of 'permanent' Russian foreign policy (from the Tsars to Gorbachev and now relevant in the Putin era) I do remember were these:

  1. Russia is terrified (for very valid historical reasons) of invasion from the west, and always wants buffer countries between it and potential aggressors.

  2. Russia always wants a port that doesn't freeze in winter and still offers access to the Atlantic.

Knowing this should allow us to think how Russia would feel about the prospect of the largest buffer state becoming a member of NATO and potentially kicking the Russian Navy from its main Black Sea port.

So why are people surprised at the current turn of events?

* The module in question would either have been 'International Politics in the Era of Two World Wars' or 'International Politics Since 1945'.


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Mar. 3rd, 2014 11:07 pm (UTC)
This is why the western powers would not have allowed the Ukraine to be formally a member of NATO, I expect. The failure of the west to understand who they were dealing with should be baffling, but isn't really.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )