Connecting the Dots: Russia at the Crossroads

Wikistrat - Russia at the Crossroads cover

Over the past six months, Wikistrat has conducted five crowdsourced exercises (simulations, wargames and forums) focused on Russia. While each of these had its own theme, additional insights can be gained from “connecting the dots” between the various drills from a bird’s-eye perspective.

In this paper, Wikistrat’s Dr. Jelena Petrovic argues that, despite the conventional wisdom which places Russia outside the U.S.-led world order and hence in the role of antithetical outlier, Moscow is constantly searching for partners.

After the start of the Ukraine crisis, it reached out to China, with whom it finalized a gas deal. In Syria, it was the Assad regime, Hezbollah and Iran.

“It is clear that Moscow is seeking to break out of its diplomatic isolation, and sees its military as an instrument it can use to cultivate friendly relations with a host of other actors,” writes Dr. Petrovic.

She also contests analysis that tends to oscillate between extremes: Either the Russians are about to put the West off-balance with a brilliant initiative or Vladimir Putin’s regime is about to collapse. The reality is more nuanced. As one analyst put it, “Russia is never as strong as it wants to be and never so weak as it is thought to be.”

The degree of political centralization around Putin lends itself to stability rather than shock. Mainstream Western analysis sees this as a weakness for the system as a whole, but Wikistrat’s exercises indicated it actually creates a self-perpetuating stability because it is almost impossible to imagine an alternative.

Click here to download the paper.

About the author

Jelena Petrovic

Dr. Jelena Petrovic
Wikistrat Project Manager
ATA Team Leader

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